International Adventures


St. Andrew’s students partner with our sister school in Ghana.

Emma Stokic, Staff Writer

 You’ve always dreamed of traveling internationally. As you picture yourself setting foot off the plane and jumping into your new adventure, you are suddenly sucked back into reality. Let’s be honest, travel can often seem like an unattainable luxury. Whether the worry be because of money, safety, or fear, there are factors that could prevent one from traveling so far away, especially as a student. St. Andrews’ global studies program replaces those troubles with excitement and new hope. The opportunity to explore Germany, Japan, Dominican Republic, Ghana, India, China, Spain, and many other countries is finally right at your fingertips.

     “I think sometimes the unknown can be scary but I think it’s taking that risk which can prove to be really beneficial and to change people’s outlooks,” Upper School Associate Director of Global Studies Emily Philpott said, “A lot of the trips that St. Andrew’s plans involve a component with a partner school, where you are actually interacting with other high school students, rather than simply being a tourist in the city. That also is one of the really important parts of many of the trips. It is something that is extremely important, worthwhile, and amazing experience that St. Andrew’s students can have.”

     Money is often one of the main concerns as to why students are unable to travel. Airplane tickets, as well as the cost of activities and food while on the trip are significant expenses. 

     St. Andrew’s global studies program’s  goal is to provide all students the chance to experience a different country, culture, and society. This is why the school offers students the option of applying for a travel grant. Established in 2010 by a St. Andrew’s student from the Class of 1975, The Guillot Global Fellows Program provides funding to Upper School students for service-oriented trips.

     “The grants may cover travel expenses, room and boarding while overseas, and all other related program costs.” Director of Global Studies Przemek Tokarski said, “Students may receive from 500 dollars to 2000 dollars from the grant itself. Preference is given to students with demonstrated financial needs, and those who have previously hosted an international student. We always want to provide new people with the chance to go on a trip, so preference is given to students who have not yet received a grant, as well as students with excellent academic standing and no recent honor code violations.”

     Travel is eye-opening to one’s perspective of the world and the lives of other people. Immersing yourself in a community, other than your own, is one of the most valuable forms of self-growth and improvement. 

     “Anytime a student can gain new experiences that are different from what they might have been exposed to can absolutely contribute to self growth of one’s identity,” Philpott said, “For a lot of students, travel can truly be a life changing event to experience someplace that’s vastly different from the Jackson area in Mississippi.”

     Student council president, Senior Toni Oluwatade, agrees that much can be learned from exploring a new country and culture. 

     “I went on the Ghana exchange trip last summer and stayed in the dorms of the Ghanian school for two weeks,” Oluwatade said, “Even though I am Nigerian and Ghana has a fairly similar culture, I actually learned that there are many differences between the two countries. A lot of people classify Africa as just being one big place with people who are all similar, which is not true. During the trip I really saw the diversity between everyone.” 

     “I learned about different cultures which in my opinion is really important for you to do in your life.” Junior Samantha Smith said.

     Smith has been very active in the Global Studies program at SA. She has gone on several trips with the school, along with hosting two students. 

     “I went on the Peru trip and stayed with a family there.” Smith said, “It was a fantastic and so well-organized trip, and I made a lot of memories both with people who went from here and those we met in Peru. I would definitely recommend it to anyone. I stayed in Spain with the family of the girl that I am hosting currently for a month this summer. It was a very intensive language program, which was great for improving my Spanish, while still being a relaxing vacation trip.”

     Not only does the global studies program offer St. Andrew’s students a chance to travel, but it also provides the opportunity to host exchange students. This experience is one that many students have benefitted from. You get to learn about the student’s culture and introduce them to your own, all while developing a meaningful friendship. As expected, students may at first be slightly concerned about hosting, but many were very glad to have hosted and international their student. 

     “Although I already knew the student I was going to host because I met her when I was in Ghana,  I was still a little worried that we might not click but everything ended up working out great between us.” Oluwatade said. 

     “My initial thought about hosting a student was that it was going to be a burden and take away too much time from my regular life and be really stressful.” Smith said, “Mr. Tokarski helps a lot while hosting a student, and it turned out to be a great way to make new friendships on the other side of the world.”

     St. Andrew’s Global Studies program is planning to see many more trips for students to enjoy in the future. Traveling is a unique experience that definitely teaches more than sitting in a classroom and learning second-handedly about places.

     “Traveling made me learn about different cultures which, in my opinion, is really important for everyone to do in their lives.” Smith said, “You have to understand how other people live to actually appreciate and understand what we really take for granted in our own lives.” 

St. Andrew’s students partner with our sister school in Ghana.