On a recent Global Journeys program, a group of 9th and 10th graders looked closely at how climate change and sustainability relate to culture in Taiwan. Their investigation took them around the island, from the metropolis of Taipei to the tiny coastal village of Dulan, from Buddhist monasteries to urban recycling centers, remote permaculture farms to bustling night markets. Most memorably, the students spent four nights at a homestay with families from the indigenous Atayal community – a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience the rhythms of the tribe’s daily life in the mountains (and pitch in on farm work) and learn how that way of life is being threatened by climate change.
“We had so many great opportunities to engage with locals in Taiwan who are intimately connected to what’s happening in the environment locally and globally,” says Mike Maccarone, our global academic dean for science. This was not only an opportunity for extraordinary intellectual growth; the students also expanded their comfort zones as they dealt with Taiwan’s tropical climate (rain, heat, bugs), unavoidable culture shock, and the physically demanding nature of the program. “Part of what Global Journeys does is they take you places that are slightly uncomfortable, and you learn to love them,” says Avalon, a 9th grader on the program. “You have a chance to go out into the great wide world and see amazing things.”