An Independent School • Grades 5-12

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 French Polynesia, Ecuador, China, Tanzania, Costa Rica, 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.

GSL is a program that pushes students out of their comfort zones while simultaneously encouraging them to learn and adapt. - Olivia S. ’20

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.

The GSL experience made me reflect on other cultures as well as my own culture. Coming back to Seattle, I've seen how much of an impact the Fijan community has made on me, and has made on the way I see my privilege as well as my understanding of other privilege in the world.- Ryan S. ’20

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.

Learn more about Upper School Global Service Learning

GSL Colombia: Walking fast

By Lizzy P. '20

GSL China: Creative communication

By Eleanor K. '20

Student Experience: Global Service Learning