by Meera Patankar, Middle School Global Service Learning manager/personal development teacher
The Middle School Global Service Learning (GSL) Program is gearing up for our fall trips. Eighth grade students will soon embark on immersive explorations at six sites across Washington: the Makah, Quinault and Elwha Native American communities; Cloudview and FirstFruits Farms; and our newest site in Spokane working with nonprofits who support refugees. These experiences are designed to help students cultivate cultural competency – including empathy, leadership, risk-taking, and resilience – as they build on the skills of collaboration, reflection, and problem-solving they have gained in the Middle School academic and co-curricular programs.
During the seven-day, six-night trips, students investigate complex social and environmental issues in our partner communities by volunteering with local schools and organizations. Students learn invaluable lessons from the experiential work of planting trees in the Elwha watershed to restore salmon habitat, connecting with Latin American youth from the large orchard community at FirstFruits Farms, learning about cultural history from Makah elders, collaborating with 8th grade peers on stewardship projects at Quinault, and guiding field trips for early elementary-aged students at the organic Cloudview Farm. In Spokane, students will explore the complex support network involved with refugee resettlement as we work with World Relief and other partner organizations.
Daily debrief sessions enable students to process and reflect on the unique lessons that emerge. Each group documents their experiences in a blog to share with families and other members of the Lakeside community. Students return from the 8th grade trips with an expanded view of themselves, their peers, and the Pacific Northwest region. As the year progresses, students have an opportunity to consider what they’ve learned as part of their work in Personal Development and other classes.
Students will set out on 8th grade GSL trips on Sunday, Sept. 22. The GSL orientation for 8th graders will take place during the 8th grade retreat day on Friday, Sept. 7 with follow up meetings during Middle School Community Time. All parents and guardians of 8th graders should attend a GSL parent/guardian information and logistics night at the Middle School on Monday, Sept. 9 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. We’ll cover topics including packing, communication, and other details of the program. We will email more information about GSL related items to parents and guardians of 8th graders. If you have additional questions, please contact me at the number below.
Meera Patankar is the Middle School GSL Program manager. She can be reached at 206-440-2909.