14 Middle School Students to Travel Abroad

14 Middle School Students to Embark on Transformative Journey to Brazil and Argentina
Posted on 10/05/2023
The Douglas County School System is delighted to announce that 14 outstanding middle school students have earned a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the vibrant cultures and rich histories of Brazil and Argentina during winter break in February. 

”The Board of Education and I are excited to celebrate the outstanding students who have the opportunity to travel internationally,” Superintendent Trent North says. “We strongly believe that traveling abroad expands horizons and creates a community of lifelong learners. We are excited to send these students on this new adventure so they may continue to enrich their minds.”

For eight days during winter break in February, students will travel to Brazil and Argentina to experience the culture and natural beauty of these countries. On the trip students will explore cities like Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, experience authentic local cuisine, participate in cultural activities like Samba dancing, and take in the natural beauty of the tropical rainforest that borders the two countries.

“This meets our vision of making our students global citizens,” said Mitch Springer, Executive Director of K-5 and Health Curriculum. “It exposes them to travel, and it hopefully sparks their interest in travel so that they want to continue learning in this way.”

To earn this opportunity, students submitted essays on the importance of student travel and all that can be gained from journeying abroad. All middle school students with a good attendance record, a low number of discipline referrals, and passing grades were eligible to apply. This year, 237 students submitted essays, which was nearly 100 more than last year. Each essay was read by a group of retired educators who selected the top 14 candidates to earn this opportunity. 

The winners of this contest were revealed through surprise visits from Superintendent North, who visited their respective schools in late September and early October. 

This transformative experience for middle school students was made possible by the DCSS Board of Education, Education First Educational Tours, and donations from the Douglas County Water and Sewage Authority (DCWSA). Both DCSS and DCWSA hope that the trip will provide students with the opportunity to connect their learning across various academic subjects in real-world contexts to continue fostering the joy of exploring new areas beyond the confines of their classroom. 

“We’ll spend two days in the rainforest that’s between Brazil and Argentina, and I’m so excited for these students to experience that,” said Springer. “And Brazil is so culturally diverse, but Argentina is a little more homogenous. Getting to see the major differences in two countries that are so close together will be a great learning experience.”

To prepare for this experience, students, their parents, and chaperones participate in monthly meetings to help familiarize the young travelers with each country’s foods, languages, laws, and other customs to help them navigate a world unfamiliar to their own. This, Springer says, is another important benefit of student travel, as students gain openness to other cultures and people while understanding the interconnectedness between countries. 

“Experiences like these open students’ eyes to different cultures and different things,” said Springer. “It lets them know that we are all citizens of one earth, and we all have things in common, no matter what your cultural background is or where you live.”
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