When I was growing up, the assignment I dreaded more than any was the “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” essay that I was asked to write almost every year from the elementary grades through high school. I filled my summers with lots of reading and writing, plenty of time spent outdoors, the occasional day camp, and trips, usually to the beach or to the countryside. Still, I imagined that my classmates were enjoying far more exciting vacations and that my experiences “paled in comparison.”

What is evident to me is that many Washington Latin students have summertime options that were not available to me. Besides the local museums, art galleries, universities and recreational centers that offer programs, often at reasonable cost, Latin students are eligible to receive scholarships for international travel or to participate in cultural exchanges or policy forums. For situations in which external scholarships are limited or do not exist, we have also established the Equal Access fund to help us make international travel and summer enrichment possible for more students. You can learn more about that fund here.

At the 9th grade new student orientation a few days before the start of the school year, a few of our upper schoolers recounted their summer experiences. I was spellbound as I listened to students discuss what they had learned and how they had grown. The research is clear: summer programs which include academic and social components lead to positive outcomes for students. Benefits include higher school-year attendance and achievement, increased motivation to learn, increased feelings of belonging, and reduced participation in risky behavior. Just spend a minute or two talking with some of our students about how they spent their summer and you will walk away convinced that some of these experiences were transformative.

Junior Owen Fox-Whelpton studied Arabic in Morocco at the Qalam Wa Lawh Center. Junior Alicia Trejo did various projects as a part of the Learn Serve program in Paraguay. Senior Chandler Broussard was able to go to China and senior Dyllan Cole visited Jordan as a part of the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLIY). Sophomore Lydia Moore volunteered with orphans in Tanzania. Ninth grader Nia Matthews-Cox participated in a peace camp in Indonesia. Junior Oliver Spiva studied neuroscience at McGill University in Montreal. Senior Maya Woods-Arthur spent several weeks at the St. Albans School of Public Service, where she met with house representatives and a Supreme Court justice. Several students participated in the Concordia Summer Language Camp in Minnesota. Two of our sophomores studied Arabic at the Middlebury Monterey Language Academy in Vermont. Three seniors went to Rome as a part of the Paideia Institute’s “Living Latin in Rome” program. One junior did a similar program in Greece. And this only accounts for a fraction of the summer adventures enjoyed by many of our students.

To learn more about international travel opportunities for our students (and especially how they can be affordable for your family), please visit the Study Abroad Forum at the school on Tuesday, September 25th at 6:30 p.m.