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Latest News: Press Release

GS Prepares First Global Service Program Participants for Trips to Cuba and China

Monday, June 22, 2009  
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Twenty-two educators from seventeen schools in ten states will convene at George School on Monday, July 6, 2009, to launch the school’s Global Service Program—a new opportunity designed to enhance the scope and quality of international service trips for secondary school students. As participants in the Global Service Program’s inaugural Faculty Institute for global service learning, the educators will develop leadership skills that will help them to plan and implement successful international service trips for students at their respective schools.

Following two days of workshops conducted by George School faculty on campus, twelve participants will travel to China to help rebuild a community devastated by the 2008 earthquake, while eight educators will go to Cuba to repair a Quaker church that was damaged in a 2008 hurricane. Led by George School faculty, both trips are intended to provide valuable firsthand experience in international service. Thanks to a new travel license from the U.S. government, the Cuba trip will allow George School to continue its tradition of service in that country for the first time in five years.

Head of School Nancy Starmer stated, “George School faculty have established and led domestic and international service trips for over sixty years in more than fifteen countries to help our students learn about Quaker values such as equality, social justice, and peacemaking. The launch of the new Global Service Program marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter in our history of international service. We are delighted that the first Faculty Institute will allow us to share our expertise with a geographically diverse group of educators from both Quaker and non-Quaker schools.”

Pauline Forest, George School’s Global Service Program coordinator, noted, “We are particularly thrilled to have the opportunity to reconnect with our Cuban Quaker friends after five years in which we have been unable to visit them.” Due to U.S. government travel restrictions, George School has not been able to obtain a license to travel to Cuba since 2004. Between 1978 and 2000, George School held exchange trips involving adults in the Cuban Quaker community and George School faculty and administrators. In 2000, when educational travel to Cuba became easier, the school began sponsoring student service projects with the Cuban Quakers.

The Global Service Program is made possible in part by an Educational Leadership Grant awarded by the Edward E. Ford Foundation in 2008. George School was one of the first five schools selected to receive Educational Leadership Grants, which the foundation created to support transformative new programs that can be models for other schools worldwide.

Among the seventeen schools represented by the Faculty Institute participants, ten are Quaker-affiliated. Enrollment includes educators from California, Colorado, Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

The Faculty Institute workshops on July 6 and 7 focus on important aspects of international service learning, trip planning and leadership, and team building. Workshop leaders include ten George School faculty and staff members. In addition, one workshop will be led by Rafaela Torres Ugarte, founder of La Nicaragüita, a school in Managua, Nicaragua. Rafaela has worked with George School’s service projects in Nicaragua since 1991.

The trips to China and Cuba will both depart on July 8, each led by two George School faculty members experienced in international service. Language department chair Chéri Mellor and science teacher Steven Fletcher will head the China trip, scheduled to return on August 2. The Cuba trip, with a return date of July 25, will be led by history teacher Fran Bradley—who was instrumental in creating George School’s original service program in Cuba—and Spanish teacher Molly Stephenson.

In addition to the Faculty Institute, plans for the Global Service Program include a component for students. Launch of the student program is tentatively scheduled for summer of 2010.