Purposeful and immersive travel is a cornerstone of the Nueva experience. The places we go, the people we meet, and the way we reflect on our experiences as an entire community reaffirms and develops our understanding of the world. Travel—and the studies, preparation, and sense of shared responsibility that precedes it—helps us to live up to our mission of developing informed and engaged global citizens.
At the heart of those travel experiences has always been the imagination, resilience, and tireless efforts of the deans, teachers, and administrators responsible for planning our local and global treks. The current trip planning team—led by Dean of Student Life Hillary Freeman, Eighth-grade Dean Cynthia Kosut, and Lower School Division Head Megan Terra—and the grade-level deans have taken on the challenge of “traveling” during a pandemic.
During the week of May 12 through 21, Nueva students will engage in nearly four hours of virtual travel each day. In the current planning matrix, students and their faculty chaperones will visit museums, attend lectures with experts around the world, enter the homes of indigenous people across three continents, attend cooking classes, and tour schools, sanctuaries, and remote locations around the world. Most often, these experiences will be led live, through Zoom, by our travel partners from past, in-person trips.
“Built on the foundation of why we travel, we have been working on the design of an immersive academic and cultural experience for each grade for our middle and upper school students,” Cynthia shared in her recent letter to middle and upper school families. “So, why do we travel? Collectively, our trips develop a sense of global citizenship and expand our students’ comfort zone, academically, socially, and emotionally.”
While the experiences at each grade level will be uniquely tied to the distinctive, year-long thematic foci currently underway in most grades, all of the 2021 trips will be built around the pillars of the Nueva experience, including environmental citizenship, design thinking, social justice and equity, and social-emotional learning.
As Cynthia shared in her letter, this year, travel week across all divisions will share a common thread: diaspora.
“We want to use this opportunity to magnify our goals and build unique experiences that ignite learning and enhance understanding,” she explained. “To that end, we have chosen an underlying theme for all grades: how the concept of diaspora (from the root ‘to spread’) relates in the context of the focus for each grade’s particular exploration.” “That might take the form of the American experience for grades 6 and 11, as they examine the migration of African Americans from the South to the Northeast for manufacturing jobs; or the movement from rural communities to urban centers in Japan, China, and Spain; or the migration of species due to climate change, or the spread of people due to religious or economic factors. We see plenty of opportunities to make the connections so necessary in facilitating critical thinking and empathy.”
To that end, teachers—all of whom are assigned to participate in trips this spring—have been asked to identify how this theme of diaspora can be connected to the content they already have planned. Just like in normal years, the goal is for our community to share in authentic and informed travel experiences.
Over the remaining months of the school year, we will continue to cover the story of our 2021 travel week. Part two in this series will focus on the pillars which bind these trips together, as we hear from our school leaders about their efforts to create a mission-aligned experience for our community. Part three will focus on the highlights of each trip, as told by the deans who are currently hard at work ironing out the logistics. Part four, the final installment, will focus on the reflections of students and teachers as they “return” from their trips and share details of what they have seen and what they have learned.