2019-2020 New Harkness Travel Programs Announced

As announced in school meeting this past Thursday, the Experimental Leadership Department is introducing six new Harkness Travel trips in both the spring and summer breaks.

As announced in school meeting this past Thursday, the Experimental Leadership Department is introducing six new Harkness Travel trips in both the spring and summer breaks. These trips are Bali, Indonesia; Nepal; Appalachia, West Virginia; Jerusalem; Iceland; and Guatemala. On the purpose of the Harkness Travel Trips, Director of Experiential Education John Hughes, said, “I believe in the global community. When we talk about our School mission—how we take talented young people and prepare them for lives of high purpose, developing the best in each for the best of all—I don’t think you can separate that we are an institution with students from around the world.” He added, “We take our House and Harkness system with us as we travel. All of the programs that we offer combine the best of what we are, and we aren’t doing it to travel or for tourism’s sake. We are doing it so we can apply our learning in real ways.” Hughes said, “These are authentic opportunities where our students can get out of their comfort zone and learn in ways that grow themselves as individuals.” The following trips are completely new to the School community or returning after many years following their pilot.


Science, Sustainability & Spirituality in Bali, Indonesia Faculty: Science Master Shinae Park and Performing Arts Master Matthew Campbell During the first two weeks of March, Lawrentians will receive the opportunity to travel to Bali, Indonesia to immerse themselves in learning about sustainability and spirituality. For the first week, they will stay at the Green School, which is structured around the use of natural resources and engineering principles, to learn about sustainability and science. They will also get the opportunity to explore all parts of Bali through bike trips, visits to rice fields, and even snorkeling in mangrove habitat restoration. Furthermore, in the cultural center of Bali, Ubud, students will learn about Balinese Hinduism and Balinese music by attending performances, visiting temples, and engaging in meditation. As someone who is greatly interested in engineering and Gamelan music, Campbell is eager to “see students respond to a school centered around engineering and sustainability principles and also [for them] to get the opportunity to explore a foreign spiritual and music world.” He has been wanting to go to Bali for a long time, and he hopes students can expand their worldviews of sustainability, science, and spirituality and “venture beyond their own comfort zones and expectations when it comes to being around a new culture.”

Nepal: Himalayan Explorations Faculty: Religion and Philosophy Master Jason VonWachenfeldt, Director of Experiential Education John Hughes, and French Master Stella Leach In the first week of spring break, Lawrenceville students will have an opportunity to explore Nepal, embarking on a journey throughout the country that will include backpacking from Kathmandu to the Annapurna Basecamp. This trip is returning as a Harkness Travel trip after first running two years ago. Students will be immersed in a scenic adventure and discover why Nepal is called “Heaven on Earth.” On this trip, students will be taught about religion, philosophy, cultural studies, and outdoor leadership when hiking, visiting cultural sites, and viewing the beautiful Himalayas. Leach said, “This is my second time going to Nepal. I went in March two years ago, and it was my first time traveling to Asia. It was a great trip. I had a wonderful experience. It’s hard to pick a favorite part, but if I had to choose, my favorite part would be that I was able to combine nature, natural aspects: backpacking and hiking in a mountainous regions and seeing small villages in Nepal with visiting Kathmandu and seeing a larger city. And it was really great to compare and contrast with our group of students.”

Appalachia: Fair Trade Learning: Faculty: Instruction and Engagement Librarian Autumn Sinai, Director of Library Services Paula Clancy P’11 ’13, and English Master Christopher Hyson P’14 ’16 Students on this new trip will visit Williamson, West Virginia in the beginning of March. Williamson once flourished under the thriving coal mining industry, but in recent years, the town has suffered from the collapse of the coal mining industry and the opioid crisis. Students will work with Amizade, a global service organization to help the community rebuild. There will be several aspects to the service, as students will work with a local school in education, help farms prepare for the growing season, do health and wellness service regarding the opioid crisis, and help a town that once relied on the coal industry to find more sustainable options. The exact activities will be determined once students arrive in order to best meet the needs of the community. There will also be several excursions planned, although the main purpose of the trip is service. The trip will be special in that the service will be very “hands-on” and that “students will be able to have a direct impact...and really feel [the] impact of their visit there,” Clancy said. “I think it is a community service trip that will energize people in terms of thinking in new ways and get them excited about different types of ways to approach community service...and real, serious problems.”


Jerusalem: Religion and History in the Holy City Faculty: Religion Master Lauren Levy H’97 ’01 P’01 ’02 ’09 and History Master David Figueroa-Ortiz P’18 For 10 days in June, students will explore both the ancient and modern aspects of a culturally rich city that was once the birthplace and center of three major world religions. Even on the first night they land, students will get a chance to visit a market and taste local cuisine. From there, students will look at both modern and ancient sites, take a trip to Tel Aviv, and participate in an ongoing archeological dig. “The idea is to experience...the various cultures and the various histories that are represented in the city,” Figueroa-Ortiz said. “A city like Jerusalem highlights how religions are alive, they’re vibrant, they exist and coexist with modernity all around the world...But to see that face-to-face is different from just reading about it in a book...I think it changes the understanding of what a city can be and should be.” Levy said, “I think that part of the excitement of Jerusalem is walking with your feet actually on stones that are thousands of years old [and] that millions of people have tread upon before you, all looking to have religious experience or educational experiences. At the same time, we have modern markets, where we have the sights and smells and tastes of a vibrant and fighting middle-eastern city...It’s incredible,” Levy said. “We’re just really excited to share that with the students [who] are going to be joining us.”

Iceland: Myths, Mountains, Fire, and Ice Faculty: English Master Rebecca Findlay, Director of Experiential Education John Hughes, and English Master Sujin Seo Early summer, over a period of 14 days, students will have an opportunity to visit Iceland, partaking in a multi-night hike through the famous Laugavegur hiking path, following the paths of Viking explorers in late 800 AD. Students will participate in adventures over glaciers, around volcanoes, through waterfalls, and across lava fields and will learn about Iceland’s cultural and geological histories. They will also engage in glacier walks and day and overnight hikes. A highlight of the trip will be visiting the volcanic Vestmannaeyjar islands, the site where a community came together when a 1973 volcanic eruption endangered a town with a population over 4,000 people. Additionally, students will explore Reykjavik and some of Iceland’s coastal regions. Learning will expand Iceland’s cultural history as students will research geological history, particularly focusing on geothermic and volcanic geology. Reflecting on the trip, English Master Sujin Seo said that she looks forward to the group’s “immersing [themselves] in nature and facing the challenges out there but also enjoying the camaraderie and beauty of it.”

Guatemala: Service and Exploration Faculty: Director of Community Service Programs Rachel Cantlay P’07 ’09 ’11, Assistant Director of Community Service Programs Elizabeth Ferguson, and Science Master Gregory Hansen P’08 ’11 After conducting this trip close to seven years ago, students will once again have the opportunity to explore the beauty and culture of Antigua, Guatemala, while also engaging with the people living there through service. Students will work with God’s Child Project, a multi-service non-profit organization in Antigua, to build a house. Prior to the program, students will spend time learning about the various factors that contribute to the country’s poverty. As the program has an emphasis on service, students will also help with a soup kitchen and play with kids at a school involved with God’s Child Project. While in Antigua, they will stay with local families and get to know the residents there. Furthermore, students will explore the surrounding environmental areas by hiking a volcano and visiting Lake Atitlan. They will also immerse themselves in the cultural side by visiting one of the largest Mayan markets, Chichicastenango, and staying overnight in Tikal, a historic Mayan ruin. Ferguson hopes that students can have “an opportunity to be present in a new situation that allows them to learn about another way of life and to learn about themselves.”


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