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Are you or your teen looking for a fun study abroad program that kicks international education up a notch?
I recently heard from the folks at Project World School (http://projectworldschool.com), who wished to make me aware of their program offerings for this website. It sounded like an intriguing organization, and as a former travel agent and educator, I found that the words “World” and “School” placed next to each other made me sit up and take note “real quick”!
Hands-on, Global Learning
I suppose the most concise way to describe PWS is to say it’s a temporary, international, hands-on learning opportunity for young people. Several distinct learning communities form from the unique global classroom experiences that the folks at PWS carefully plan; six such communities are planned to come together in 2018 alone. These overseas retreats, which each last from approximately two weeks to a month, have been offered each year since mother and son team Lainie Liberti and Miro Siegel founded the organization in 2011.
Participants are, by and large, “unschooled” or homeschooled teenagers and young adults. The program could also be attended as a sort of way station to augment a young person’s gap year between high school and college. Since a participant can apply up to age 25, this would even be a great program for recent college graduates.
According to PWS, “Our learning communities merge immersive hands on experiences with personal and social development focusing on global citizenship, cultural sensitivity and developing relationships through exploring ethics and conflict resolution.” It sounds a tiny bit “woo,” I know. But within each program is an opportunity to volunteer within the community and gain valuable leadership skills. In addition, the relationships formed between participants and communities enables students to enhance and expand their worldviews. This kind of open-minded scholarship leads invariably to a more compassionate world, which is so desperately needed in this day and age!
The World is Your Classroom!
Learning takes place far away from the tedium of a four-walled classroom. I think of PWS as like a sustained, eye-opening, exciting cultural field trip in a part of the world that American youth have only maybe just read up on a bit. For variety’s sake, and because participants often attend more than once, each year involves different locales across the globe.
Upcoming retreats for 2018 include examining a pirate’s life in Panama. Students get to bunk on a boat and set sail to visit fascinating central and south American destinations. Plans even include learning how to sail, and sailing through the Panama Canal! Other retreats involve actively finding fascinating nooks and crannies of culture and adventure in Bolivia, and developing sustainable “off the grid” communities in Wales. I wish I could fire up a wayback machine to be a teen again in order to participate in these exciting learning communities!
Project World School vs. Foreign Exchange Student Study
So how does a PWS experience differ from that of a foreign exchange student? Well, both experiences take place abroad, and both offer the student the opportunity to experience a different way of life. PWS is a well curated, semi-structured experience in which students will learn from one another as well as from the community at large. They take a multi-disciplinary approach to learning, and emphasize important characteristics such as adaptability and cultural sensitivity in their retreats.
Being a foreign exchange student tends to lack a formal structure of any sort beyond attending school in the foreign country. For me, at least, when I went to school overseas there was little emphasis on conscientiously seeking out diverse cultural experiences. PWS deliberately manages these opportunities on behalf of its participants for a well-rounded global worldview. This is obviously an immersive education that can’t be obtained watching the usual dry classroom videos at the schoolhouse down the street!
If any of this sounds intriguing to you, don’t wait a moment longer! Check out the gorgeous PWS website (http://projectworldschool.com/) today and pick the upcoming program you find most appealing. Don’t forget the one-time non-refundable $50 application fee. Each program offered costs varying amounts, and honestly, none could be considered inexpensive. Fortunately the organization understands its components aren’t fully affordable for everyone. As such they actively encourage scholarship donations in hopes to offer financial help in the future. For current students, the PWS staff actively help them figure out how to best fund their experience.
What global encounter would you find most exciting? Let me know in the comments!
-pirating the Panama Canal (arrrrr, matey!)
-relishing the music/art/culture/adventure of South America
-creating sustainable farming communities in beautiful Wales