In its 6th year, the London Exchange program from January 12th to 21st was once again a massive success, with six students traveling across the pond to tour universities, visit museums, and experience cultural differences between the United States and Great Britain. As a part of Project Rousseau’s Broadening Horizons pillar, many students who have never had the chance to travel abroad before are able to visit another country and educate themselves on the education, history, and culture of their exchange peers, in this case, from St. Paul’s School for Girls and the City of London School for Boys.
On the London trip, students were able to visit Oxford University, experiencing a different type of education than what they are used to in the United States. Our student Taina particularly appreciated the seminar-style class structure. Maya’s favorite aspect of the Oxford tour was its food, surprisingly! Overall, our students absorbed the work ethic of their British peers, and hope to take this style of learning back into their classrooms here in the US.
Another exciting aspect of the Exchange was in visiting many historical spots in London and also in visiting many of the city’s most renowned museums. Students visited an Anglo-Saxon exhibit in the British Library, learned about the World Wars at the Imperial War Museum, and even saw the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum! Muntafa even visited the Lord’s Cricket Ground! To promote hands-on learning about government, we spent a whole day in Parliament, sitting in on debates. Many students made the connection between what they learn in their government courses and what was happening on the Parliament floor, so this proves it was a very worthwhile experience!
Of course, students also had plenty of time for exploring and fun, with many commenting that the legacy of the trip will be with the connections they made with their hosts. Tsunami took away that many people’s cultures are different than her own and that this trip helped her remove any misconceptions from her mind that she had about the people of London. Interacting with hosts was particularly educational for Taina, who explained, “I'm not necessarily a very social person, and I've always struggled with interacting and connecting with people, but this experience definitely helped me realize that my people skills really aren't that bad. It's easy to connect with people, like I did with my host sister, when you're in a new surrounding!”
Clearly, the 2019 London Exchange was a success, with students not only learning about the history and education of their British peers, but interacting with them on a deeper level and gaining more cultural understanding.