As a small school, we understand the importance of offering experiences that expand students' horizons. Our international travel program builds global awareness and leadership skills, awakens high schoolers to a whole new world of possibilities and gives them skills to become empathetic activists in the world community.
Established in 1989, the program has earned accolades from parents, teachers, students and the Washington Education Association. We currently take high schoolers to Japan, Nicaragua, Québec and France. Students who prefer longer foreign exchange home-stay programs also receive our direct support. The Lopez International Students Education Program (InSTEP) is a nonprofit foundation which provides funding to ensure that finances are no barrier and that all students have the opportunity to participate; their websites can be found at lopezinstep.org.
Each trip provides its own window to the world. Students traveling to Nicaragua focus on history, economics of a developing country, service projects and improving their Spanish skills. In Japan, students visit our sister island of Ishima, tour ancient sites and temples, and immerse themselves in cultural history. Stays in Kyoto and Tokyo broaden their understanding of modern Japan.
Both French trips focus on strengthening students' language skills. As they travel to Québec by train, they learn about Canada and about French Canadian history. Staying in Québec and Montreal, students visit the Museum of Civilization, Rue St. Jean, the Citadelle and Parliament. Rock climbing, snow skiing and ice skating are part of this winter trip. The France trip features our longest home stay (Provence for four to five days), a five-day barge trip on the Canal du Midi, plus visits to historically rich Bayeux, Mont-Saint-Michel, and Paris.
Our student travelers from our last trip in 2011 were filled with exciting stories to tell from Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua. Their college-style curriculum included lectures, field experiences, tours, site visits, and meetings with local activists. They worked side-by-side with locals to dig a septic system for a fair-trade spinning coop's new factory, met with labor leaders, visited the Managua dump – home to hundreds of homeless, and worked at a coffee plantation high in the mountains digging trenches for new water pipe. The students' response? “Fantastic! Viva Nicaragua!”