Growing season: summer brings experiential travels for students

Exonians gain valuable hands-on lessons in ecology, entrepreneurship, service, writing and more. 

September 7, 2017

There are typical summer plans, and then there are Exonian summer plans: For 84 lucky Exeter students, this summer offered the opportunity not just for lazy afternoons, summer jobs and poolside chats, but also for cultural immersion, service to others and hands-on learning.

Whether helping to mitigate water erosion in the Adirondacks; exploring quantum mechanics at a premier research center in Riken, Japan; or discovering the world of Julius Caesar’s Gaul on an archaeology dig in Bibracte, France (to name just a few of the 15 experiential summer travel opportunities and internships sponsored by the Academy), Exonians gained valuable hands-on lessons in ecology, entrepreneurship, service, writing and more — at locations across Asia, Europe and the United States.

Alphonso Bradham ’20, one of 11 students who participated in the Classics Department’s study tour in France, reflected on his archaeology fieldwork: “To see actual archeologists uncover something that hasn’t been seen for thousands of years and to experience firsthand the process of excavation from the perspective of an experienced team is a memory that I will never forget.”

In her travel blog, Classics Instructor Megan Campbell praised the participants’ “endless intellectual curiosity, energy, and kindness” and expressed her gratitude to the Behr Fund for making the biennial tour possible. See more reflections from Campbell and her students.

At the entrance to Arcy-sur-Cure, where students viewed 28,000-year-old cave paintings. 

Ben Cai ‘20 was one of nine students who traveled to Yellowstone National Park this summer to observe the wildlife and learn about the impact of climate change on the local ecosystems. For Cai, one of the highlights of the trip was a visit with Jeff Laszlo ‘72 on his fifth-generation ranch near O’Dell Creek in Montana, where Lazlo has spent more than a decade working to conserve the headwaters and restore his family’s land to its natural state.

In a post-trip reflection, Cai wrote: “Jeff ... made it clear that while his ranching operation was a business that needed to make money, the costly investments in the restoration project has actually increased the productivity of his pasturing lands. ... [He showed us] that ranching and conservation efforts can work side by side in mutual relationships.”

Director of Global Initiatives Eimer Page, who helps coordinate and oversee all of the Academy’s off-campus offerings, says: “These students have had the opportunity to bring their Exeter classroom experiences into the world, and to engage in hands-on activities that could not be replicated here on campus. It is such a pleasure to hear their enthusiasm for the work they have done, and to see their growth in maturity and perspective.”

In addition to the programs mentioned above, the Office of Global Initiatives helped coordinate the following trips for summer 2017:

  • Ten students traveled to Russia or Japan, where they resided with host families and immersed themselves in the culture and language of the respective countries.
  • Fourteen members of Exeter’s branch of Future Business Leaders of America participated in the national FBLA competitions in California. During their stay, they visited with Paddy Spence ‘85, CEO of Zevia, who spoke about his Exeter experience and how it shaped his future.
  • Twelve Exonians attended the National Junior League Classical League convention in Alabama, which was co-organized by Lyle Seeligson ’17.
  • Three students attended the Summer Global Leadership Institute in Punahou with Academy Librarian Gail Scanlon, who will help advise them throughout the year as they work on service projects of their own creation.  
  • Exonians also held internships at the Academy of American Poets; Columbia University; the New York Historical Society; Stanford University; and the Conservation Law Foundation, among others.