While the exchanges provide participants with the opportunity to travel, the primary goal is to allow students to immerse themselves in schools that are quite different from their own. Exchange students face a series of demanding expectations: Even as they keep up with assignments from Brooks, they must take a demanding load of classes at their host school. They are ambassadors for their schools and their countries. Given differences in curricula, language barriers, and the fact that partner schools do not place the emphasis on competitive sports that Brooks does, students are asked to adapt to a new environment. Students describe this process of enculturation as powerful and transformative.
Going on exchange taught me how to get the most out of traveling — how to not be a tourist, but instead fully immerse myself in the world around me for a more authentic experience than sightseeing could ever give me.
Allie Iamonaco ’17
- When Do Students Go On Exchange?
- Who Is Eligible to Apply to the Exchange Program?
- How Are Students Selected?
- Where Do Students Live While on Exchange?
- What Are the Academic Obligations for Students?
- What Is the History of the Program?
The exchanges are four or five weeks long. Exchanges to Botswana, Hungary, Scotland, Spain and France are scheduled during March break (from approximately late February to early April), so students don’t miss much school at Brooks. Students going to Peru depart after final exams in early June and return mid-July.
Students submit an application to the program in the fall. The selection process is managed by the Exchange Committee, composed of faculty members, past student participants and the Academic Dean. The application process includes an interview. Decisions are communicated to students in late November or December.
In Botswana and Scotland, Brooks students attend boarding schools and live in dormitories on campus. Dorm life and conditions vary from institution to institution. In Hungary, Peru, Spain and France, Brooks students attend day schools. They live with the families of partner-school students who come on exchange to Brooks.
The Exchange is part of the academic program at Brooks. Students receive a letter grade and one academic credit, which are recorded on their Brooks transcripts. Upon selection, students are enrolled in the Exchange Course. It meets weekly for eight weeks prior to departure and combines academic study, orientation information, and administrative tasks to prepare our students to go abroad and enrich their experience. While abroad, students take the equivalent of four or five major courses and are expected to participate fully in the life of the partner schools. For the spring exchanges, students are expected to confer with Brooks teachers before departure and work independently to keep up with their courses. Students will also complete Exchange Course assignments after returning to Brooks.
During the 2009-10 academic year, Brooks School marked the 25th anniversary of its overseas exchanges — a pioneering program that has enabled more than 600 students from Brooks and its partner institutions to spend between five and 10 weeks at each others’ schools. The program was conceived and founded by Richard Holmes (1924-2008), a former assistant headmaster who spent 43 years at Brooks. In 1986 Brooks launched exchanges with two boys boarding schools in Africa: The Alliance High School, an all-African school outside of Nairobi, Kenya, and Diocesan College [Bishops], a multi-racial secondary school in a suburb of Cape Town, South Africa. Once under way, the exchange grew and grew.
Activities | Beyond the classroom, students participate in a variety of activities, including sports, music, art and community service. Students are also encouraged to pursue individual interests that engage them in broader communities. In Spain, students have participated in sports activities with local clubs in Seville.
Academics | At our partner schools, students attend classes daily. They join class activities, complete assignments and engage with their classmates — very similar to what they would be doing here at Brooks. Selection of classes varies by school, but Brooks students take the equivalent of four majors. In France, Spain and Peru, exchange students take part in language immersion in history, literature, math, science and drama courses.
Excursions | To extend the parameters of the classroom, our partner schools organize excursions, both close to and far afield from school. Such trips provide Brooks students with unforgettable experiences within their host countries. In France, students regularly take excursions to Paris, the Loire Valley and Brittany.
Support | Exchange coordinators at each of our partner schools take care of our Brooks students and oversee the complete range of their activities. The exchange coordinators are at the center of our students’ exchange experience. Kata Engi of the Deak Ferenc Bilingual High School in Szeged has been with the exchange program for more than 10 years. Ms. Engi teaches English and serves as a senior administrator at Deak Ferenc. For more than a decade, Brooks students have been recipients of her kindness, care and good humor.
Host Families | The homestay is the heart of the program in Peru, giving students the opportunity to experience the daily rhythms of life and family relations as few visitors are able to do. Through their host families, students learn about Peruvian culture and traditions, including everything from diet to family celebrations. More importantly, they form personal relationships that serve to anchor their experience of Lima and Peru — relationships that often last a lifetime.
Service | Since its inception in 1986, community service has been a compelling and powerful part of the exchange experience. In Botswana, Maru-a-Pula School has a well-developed community service program in which Brooks students participate. Brooks students have volunteered in local health facilities, women’s shelters, and AIDS orphanages.
Participants pay an $875 fee toward the cost of the program; this fee will be billed and posted to students’ accounts on February 1. The exchange program provides international airline tickets and visas (where applicable) to participants. Additional student costs include personal spending money, passport fees, immunizations, and the costs of travel that students elect to do while abroad. Financial aid is available; contact Brooks' admission team for financial aid information: firstname.lastname@example.org. Financial concerns should not preclude considering to apply to the program.
Our program, founded in 1986, promotes the global education of students from Brooks and its partner schools in Botswana, Hungary, Morocco, Scotland, Spain and Peru. By living abroad as residents in other school communities, our students are challenged to extend themselves to another place, another culture, another people – and, most importantly, to be affected by them, to be changed by them. We are confident that experiencing this transformative process of enculturation makes our students more empathetic and engaged global citizens.