Students at Nobles learn by doing. It’s the driving force for the EXCEL (experiential learning) program that has long been at the core of the school’s educational philosophy.
This spring, during March break, 112 students and 18 faculty traveled domestically and abroad for service, language and cultural immersion, and adventure. Destinations included Guatemala, Cambodia/Vietnam, New Orleans, China and South Africa.
Director of Student Travel and French teacher Henry Kinard says although the travel program has become more streamlined, and the preparation has improved, the goals and benefits remain the same. Faculty leaders engage in risk management training in the fall, so they are prepared for medical and natural emergencies in ways that they can best support students.
“Faculty are so giving of their time, not only over the March break, but also during the lead-up to the trips themselves. We vary offerings, from activities to geography, to the age of the students and duration of the time away, so students have more choices. For a very academic school, travel is very integrated into the education here. Students think about what happens outside of the classroom and our campus,” says Kinard.
By the time they graduate from Nobles, 80-85% of students have engaged in some Nobles travel or experiential trip; grants ensure accessibility regardless of ability to pay.
Kinard adds, “On campus, we are limited somewhat in what we can teach kids. They gain perspective and learn about themselves in a different way off campus, because of the way they collaborate on these service trips and have interactions with people much different from themselves. It enriches their Nobles experience, and they bring back new perspectives, as well as an appreciation for what we have and how we can get better.”
One of Kinard’s favorite aspects of the travel program is seeing groups of Nobles students come together, who may not even know each other. On these trips, he says, they come to feel like, “This is my little family right now.” It’s especially refreshing to “see them awake to the world, with each other and what’s happening, with the removal of technology. I hear them say, ‘I needed that.’”
Upcoming trips this spring and summer include a theater foray to NYC, a New Hampshire farming trip that fosters appreciation for local food, Spain, and the first-ever chamber singers/orchestra trip to perform in Bermuda.
“For all of us to get out into the field to do this together, some great things happen,” Kinard says.
Learn more about Nobles travel.
Check out this spring’s trip blogs and Instagram/Twitter feeds for a more complete picture: