In April 2014, we took five of our most outstanding seniors to Copenhagen, Denmark for a week–long stay with our partners at Rysensteen Gymnasium. Our students each stayed for a week with a Rysensteen student and his/her family while exploring Copenhagen, learning about Danish history and culture, and attending classes at the school. Before heading to Copenhagen, our students were introduced to the Rysensteen students through an online exchange program that started in the autumn of 2012, and we first met Rysensteen students in person when they visited New York in October 2013. These encounters, along with the regular online group discussions guided by Project Rousseau and Rysenteen staff, prepared our students well for a successful, enjoyable, and rewarding experience in Copenhagen.
Our first exchange in Copenhagen was an extraordinary experience for our students, for whom this was their first experience of life in Europe. From discussion about culture and politics over brunch to debates at Rysensteen’s Model United Nations conference, our students gained insights into their place in the world and grew to consider alternatives to what they see around them everyday at home. While spending a week in Europe might itself be a productive experience, our exchange is uniquely special because of the hospitality and openness of the Rysensteen Gymnasium family. The faculty, students, and families are some of the most valued members of Project Rousseau’s extended community, and we are so grateful to have a strong partnership with them.
Our students left Copenhagen more worldly, more inquisitive, more confident in their abilities, and more prepared for the college environment. As one student said, as she was bidding farewell to her exchange host and friends: “if I can make friends in one week in Europe, I can make friends in college this Fall.” Gaining exposures Rysensteen’s academic coursework gives our students insights into learning and teaching that will prepare them well for their college academics.
We owe our gratitude to so many people at Rysensteen for making this exchange possible. We thank Principal Gitte Transbøl, Global Citizenship Programme Coordinator Anders Shultz, English Teacher June Horup, Music Teacher Christine Halse, and Social Sciences Teacher Mathias Grange-Persson for all of their collaboration over the past two years and in the years to come. We all particularly owe our thanks to Danish Teacher Anne McClymont, whose love of teaching, generosity, passion, and creativity have made our exchange program possible. We look forward to welcoming Rysensteen students in New York this October, and to visiting them again in Copenhagen in April 2015!