Students from sixth to twelfth grade at Korea International School all embarked on what the school calls Experiential Education (EE) trips between August 30 and September 1. These trips strive to help students engage in action-focused experiences by connecting what they learn in the classroom to the world around them through their four pillars: service, applied learning, intercultural proficiency, and self-discovery. For examples, the sophomores were able to experience first-hand the hero’s journey, an archetype examined during English classes, through a night hike. Although most teachers and students are not on campus during this time, the days of EE trips are considered school days because the unique learning opportunities provided are considered a vital part of the school’s curriculum; more importantly, they adhere to the broader school-wide goals.
|[The view from the peak of the mountain at Boramwon where the sophomores went hiking.]|
The KIS Experiential Education program only started a little over five years ago, which is considered quite recent at a school that was founded in 1999. Initially, the EE program had first been met with a few groans from inactive students and a couple of complaints from parents who were either worried about safety or wasting time that could be spent on academic learning. However, its expeditions have now started a biannual tradition for the school’s upper grades, and the KIS EE program has now become fully fledged with its own rooms, resources, and coordinators fully dedicated to it.
The first of the two trips took place, for most grades, only a few weeks after the 2017-2018 school year started. Except for the seventh and eighth grade trips, all EE trips were overnight. The two-day EE trips for fourth and fifth grade students are taking place on September 14 and 15. The second EE trip will take place later towards the end of the second semester in late May in the form of a short one-day outing, and it is highly anticipated especially for the freshmen, who visit Everland, Korea’s largest theme park.
Other than the two required trips, the EE program also offers trips from Rustic Pathways, the school’s partner for international programs; while the school-hosted excursions all are to local towns only a few hours away from the Pangyo campus, the Rustic Pathways programs provide students the opportunity to visit various countries around the world. This partnership with Rustic Pathways started just two years ago in the middle school. The trips offered to the middle school take students to Thailand, Vietnam, or Fiji, and the trips for high school students are to Cambodia, Tanzania, Australia, or Laos. These international programs allow students to immerse themselves in cultures other than the one they are constantly surrounded in throughout the school year, and Rustic Pathways especially focuses on community service ranging from marine life conservation to teaching children at local villages.
|[The KIS class of 2020 on the first night of their middle school graduation Rustic Pathways trip at Thailand.]|
Although the exact itinerary and location of these trips differ depending on the grade level, all students on EE trips go through similar experiences. They are encouraged to challenge themselves and try pushing their self-declared limits while still keeping safety a priority. Students were especially urged to take this opportunity to disconnect from technology and social media; teachers stressed the importance of only using phones to take pictures throughout the day, and advisors sometimes took students’ phones away from them before lights out to prevent them from staying up too late. Many students also often go hiking at nearby mountains or hills for hours. Coordinators of EE trips like to point out that the literal obstacles that hiking uphill and downhill provides are representative of the many difficulties one can face throughout their life.
Sophomore (Grade 10)
Korea International School
Kristin Kim firstname.lastname@example.org
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