Upper School Global Service Learning
Lakeside Upper School’s Global Service Learning (GSL) program combines learning, service, and cultural immersion, developing students’ understanding of and respect for different countries and cultures, as well as the common issues that face us globally. Our goal is to inspire and empower students to be agents of change both in their local communities and in the international arena.
The GSL experience begins with a pre-trip orientation that students undertake before departing on their trips. Students spend a week on Lakeside’s campus learning about the culture, language, and economic and environmental contexts of the country to which they are traveling.
Upper School GSL trips last four weeks during the summer, and groups of approximately 12 students travel with three adult trip leaders. Lakeside maintains long-term, collaborative relationships with GSL partners in sites around the world. Locations do change over time, but generally are in rural areas in the developing or near-developing countries; recent locations include the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, India, Morocco, Nicaragua, Tanzania, and Thailand.
Students immerse themselves in their host community. Each student lives with a homestay family; for many, this is the most transformative aspect of their experience. Students not only experience a new way of life in a community very different from their own, but they form meaningful friendships and a deep personal understanding of another culture.
For me, my home was the place where I learned the most. For example, I learned how content I could be just in accepting and appreciating what we had, rather than always lingering on what we didn't. - Ella S. ’17
Service projects are identified by the host community, and students often work together with locals on the projects. Some projects extend over years, meaning that several groups of Lakeside students may work on different phases. For example, Lakeside students have worked in one community in Thailand planting seedlings, constructing buildings for a coffee roaster, fundraising for the roaster, installing the new equipment, and caring for the growing trees. Examples of other projects include training young people on how to use digital tablets, building a classroom for a community center, and teaching at a summer camp. Students are able to put their knowledge to good use, but also are challenged to work together on projects that push them out of their comfort zones.
Interacting with local people was my primary method of learning about the culture of Nicaragua. I felt like helping at a school, especially in English class, or even just planting trees to prevent erosion, was helpful to the community there. We all became friends with the members of our host community working with us and this experience was invaluable. - Ethan F. ’17
Students return from GSL with improved language skills; interests in new fields of study; increased empathy – both for their Lakeside peers and for people in their host community; and a greater understanding of the complexities of the world.
Upper School GSL is open to all students and financial aid is available. The program is made possible through gifts to Lakeside’s endowment.
There is something absolutely wonderful about continuously meeting new people as well as finding family in people you have only known for a few weeks. All of this coincided with service projects, and awesome discussions that made us truly think about our impact and how we could best help the world. - Caitlin C. ’18