The eighth–grade international trips are culminating experiences for Nueva students, concluding many students' journeys from the first grade sleepover in the Mansion Ballroom to a two-week overseas trip that offers student increased responsibility and independence. Eighth graders travel to a country that speaks the language they've studied, which generally means they either go to Japan, Spain, or China. Students stay with local families, attend local schools, and travel to several locations within the country they visit. For eighth graders, trips abroad are obviously a time to study the language, but also to reflect on the country's culture as well as their own.
In preparation for overseas trips, the spring semester's humanities class immerses students in cultural exploration by using critical inquiry to understand themselves in relation to the world. The examination of cultural identity in the context of history, geography, literature, and the arts focuses work in annotation, research, and essay writing. From a "cultural identity collage" to an "ethnography field study," students consider what influences shape the world and how beliefs are made visible. The class contemplates relevance of various elements of cultural identity, including age, ethnicity, ability, race, gender, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic stature. They also read books that relate to their language of study.
Students embark on an intense period of research on a Chinese, Japanese, or Spanish city of their choice during an assigned period of history. They address the research question "How are beliefs made visible?" A research paper requires them to prove a thesis, and upon completing their paper, they must consider the interrelation of the topics and how their cities functioned as an interdisciplinary system. Teachers also ask the question "How did China, Japan, or Spain change and develop over time?"
Acting as an ethnographer, each student conducts an independent field study focused on a particular aspect of the culture while in China, Japan, or Spain. They consider how and where people make their beliefs visible and how dominant values in their host countries are revealed. In addition, everyone keeps a travel journal with specific writing assignments designed to deepen their understanding and experience while overseas.