Global Travel

We are called International for a reason.

Every year, our students have the opportunity to participate in unforgettable trips all over the globe. These unforgettable experiences, inextricably shared yet deeply personal, are full of transformative learning moments that truly embody our school’s mission and values. 

Each destination has a specific theme and focus—athletic, linguistic, or scientific—but all have a cultural and service learning dimension. They provide extraordinary opportunities to enhance our students' globally-focused education outside the classroom and enrich their linguistic proficiency.

The trips abroad take place during the academic year and last about two weeks each.

French American (Annual)

Pre K - Grade 4

Students in the Maternelle and Lower School take part in local field trips and overnight outdoor education trips that prepare them for the international travel they will begin to embark on in Grade 5.

Below is a list of the core experiences that take place each year outside of the classroom:

  • Pre-K3 students take their first field trip to a pumpkin patch, where they learn about Halloween through a French language lens (other Maternelle day trips have included a visit to the Exploratorium, Academy of Sciences, a nursing home, the Zoo, the Berkeley Children's Theater, and more);
  • Kindergartners take their first overnight trip for one night at Slide Ranch in Muir Beach to experience nature through activities; 
  • Grade 1 students participate in a hands-on, experiential program at a nature camp for four days at Happy Valley;
  • Grade 2 students discover a new environment during a four day trip to Camp Hamer near Santa Cruz;
  • Grade 3 students expand their knowledge of California History by spending four days in nature studying Native American cultures at Monte Toyon;
  • Grade 4 students spend four days in the gold country at Coloma Outdoor Discovery Camp

Grade 5

Students spend two weeks with a host family in Strasbourg, France and enjoy historical sites with their classmates during the day. This trip represents the culmination of their lower school bilingual education and prepares them for extensive global travel experiences waiting for them in the Middle School.

Grade 6

In the Grade 6, students have lived experience of the history of the United States of America through a week-long trip to Washington, DC. Participants walk through the Halls of Congress, sit at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial, and experience DC at night. The trip opens students eyes to what they have read in history books, and sets an important foundation and point of comparison before they head out on longer trips around the globe.

Spending some time with Senator Dianne Feinstein in Washington, DC.

Spending time with the Senator on Capitol Hill.

Grade 7

In Grade 7, students embark on linguistic adventures through travel to China, Italy, Morocco, or Peru to round out their understanding of their new third language. Being surrounded in their second or third language every day allows our students to fully cement their multilingualism.

Appreciating Moroccan architecture. 

Grade 8

In Grade 8, students travel to Paris–one of our school’s oldest traditions and a rite of passage. Hosted by local families, students are paired with exchange partners from two world-famous schools: École Alsacienne and Notre-Dame de Sion. Students spend two weeks transforming Paris into their second home, visiting some of the most exclusive locations and best-kept secrets thanks to the insider’s knowledge of their hosts.

We have our touristic moments, too.

International (2018-2019)

American South

Civil Rights and African-American Culture: A Journey through the U.S. South
Grades 9, 10 and 11

We will travel through the major sites of conflict and reconciliation in the American South, including Selma, Montgomery, and Memphis, ending in New Orleans. We will retrace the road taken by the Freedom Riders, walk in the path of marchers from Selma, and examine the influence that groups such as the churches and the lunch counter sit-ins of the 1950s and '60s had in fueling changes in civil rights.

This will form a foundation on which to develop a conversation with Southern communities: African Americans, student peers, and seniors who witnessed the conflicts. Meetings with today’s activists and political figures are also planned.  We will build an appreciation for differing perspectives of the American experience. What, for instance, is the implication of Confederate statues dotting the Southern landscape? In sum, we will arrive prepared to investigate significant themes and ideas and to ask important questions.

Our diligence will have its rewards too as we indulge in cultural discoveries such as music and regional food, particularly in New Orleans. We will travel by van on our way to New Orleans, and whenever possible will stay in historically significant lodging or in youth hostels. Exceptional senior students will help in the planning and mentoring of our dynamic group of 15 to 20 students. And to underscore the essential communication quality of the journey, during the week of school, the team will report in daily with students in MPR5 at lunch.

 This is a trip for our time, offering substantial opportunities for engagement and learning and terrific camaraderie that will remain long after our return.

Cambodia & Vietnam

History, Social Change and Human Resilience
Grades 9, 10 and 11

For those passionate about reflecting deeply on history, social change, and human resilience, this trip will explore the legacy of colonialism, war, and genocide in two of Southeast Asia’s most vibrant, fast-changing countries: Cambodia and Vietnam. 

We’ll travel from bustling urban centers (Phnom-Penh, Ho Chi Minh City) to off-the-grid rural villages, including service work in Cambodia. We’ll visit ancient monuments (including the incredible temples of Angkor Wat) and contemporary ones, dedicated to understanding the Cambodian Genocide (the Killing Fields) and the Vietnam War (The War Remnants Museum, Cu Chi Tunnels).

In preparation, we’ll look at the legacy of war in our own country—connecting with immigrant communities, veterans, survivors, activists, and historians. There will be particular attention given to how arts and artists can help us document, understand, and digest the painful past and unfolding present.  We’ll look at war-related poetry, fiction, fine arts, and film—from US artists and Southeast Asian artists. Trip participants will be invited to contribute to a related documentary theater project, with dramaturgical and historical material, journals, and interviews.

This trip is highly recommended for 11th graders interested in these themes (and may be a springboard for extended essay or other IB work). It is also open to 10th graders. It has been designed to also be appropriate for some who travelled to Vietnam in 9th grade and now want to deepen that experience, and build on their own reflection on contemporary Southeast Asian history.

China & Tibet

Photography Deep Dive
Grades 9, 10 and 11

This incredible trip will be a unique opportunity for all, Chinese speakers or not, to discover the ancient wonders of Beijing, experience the awe-inspiring beauty of Tibet, do service in a Panda conservation center, get immersed in Chinese culture, and interact with high school students in Chengdu. To capture and enjoy every moment of this adventure, students will receive in-depth training in photography before and during the trip.

Colombia & The Amazon

Peace-making
Grades 9, 10 and 11

Discover this exotic country full of wonders by immersing yourself in projects related to the implications being in a “Post-Conflict Era”. We will go to the beautiful and historic cities of Bogotá and Cartagena where you will interact with peers from other schools and engage with young people in less fortunate neighborhoods through an NGO.

We will have a fantastic adventure in the Amazon, in Marasha, where we will meet indigenous rainforest tribes and look into the development of eco-tourism.  We will finish our trip in Playa Blanca, visiting local business and where we will reflect on the contrast between the need for progression and the conservation efforts made by some communities.

Kyrgyzstan

A Passion for the Unknown
Grades 9, 10 and 11

Kyrgyzstan, also known as the Kyrgyz Republic is, above all, mountainous. The Land of Forty Clans is a primarily rural nation with a fairly young population made up, as the nickname suggests, of a diverse set of ethnic groups. As a key juncture of the Silk Road, you will see an amazing array of influences. The nation’s rich history at the crossroads of the world, mean you’ll experience soviet history, Turkish religious traditions, and Chinese culinary inspirations. This program will encourage a global perspective on issues from environmental conservation to various populations. Volunteer projects and interactions with current and former Peace Corps Volunteers will give the students a unique learning experience.

India

A Passion for Acceptance
Grade 11

The high school trip to India is one of our most celebrated traditions. This year,  11th graders will get to discover the many faces of this fascinating nation. Traveling to Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, and Varanasi, students will visit the Taj Mahal, temples, churches, mosques, and the Buddha's place of meditation in Saarnath; they will do a workshop with a street theatre group, interact with puppeteers, animal conservationists, educators, and social activists. They'll also go on an excursion on the Sambhal River to catch a glimpse of river dolphins and ghariyals (alligators indigenous to India) in their natural habitat, and interact with elephants in a shelter. Students will also be giving back through community service for local youth.

Panama

Science and Conservation
Grades 9, 10 and 11

The trip to Panama is a science and conservation focused trip where students will get the opportunity to conduct research and learn about the challenges facing this biodiversity hotspot and the people who live there. Students will work with local organizations and engage in current scientific  research by collecting data in the Mamoní Valley Preserve located two and half hours southeast of Panama City. Students will also explore the expansion of the Panama Canal, an important economic development for Panama, and the conservation challenges that come along with the expansion. They will better understand the balance between economic development and degradation on the environment. Lastly, students will meet and interact with indigenous and local communities to grasp the struggle between lifestyle, tradition, and the desire to join the global economy. This trip is a truly well-rounded visit that will leave the students with a deep understanding of how the country is working to conserve its natural habitats and endemic species while also developing economically. Although we will be focusing on Panama, this experience can lead to a deeper understanding of the challenges that are being faced in many other countries across the world as well.

Tahiti

Nature and Cultural Immersion
Grades 10 and 11

Our longest standing exchange is now open to all—French and non-French speakers alike! Join us in Polynesia for two weeks of cultural immersion with host families. You'll sail and snorkel around some of the most majestic islands in the world, learn traditional dancing, and so much more. After, you'll have the opportunity to host your correspondent and share your life and city with your new friends from across the world.

Senegal

A Passion for Service
Grades 9, 10 and 11

The trip to Senegal is a unique opportunity for students to visit a country rich in history and culture, as well as experience a personal connection to our school’s long-standing service initiative, Project Senegal. The adventure will begin with a tour of bustling Dakar, followed by a visit to the beautiful Ile de Goree. The following week will be spent volunteering at a public school and working at an agricultural cooperative in the seaside town of M'bour. Students will also visit and volunteer at a nearby orphanage, visit local markets, take a dance lesson on the beach, and have the opportunity to converse and make friends with Senegalese peers studying English at a local high school.

South Africa

Politics and Social Justice
Grades 9, 10 and 11

The proposed trip to South Africa in April 2019 has the following objectives in mind for our students: 1) Develop a deeper understanding of and appreciation for peace and reconciliation efforts in South Africa post apartheid. 2) Engage in cross-cultural exchanges with schools and organizations that develop understanding of collective memory and identity. 3) Have authentic and meaningful interactions with diverse community members while avoiding the preponderance of ‘neocolonial’ perspectives.

Participants develop a deeper understanding of and appreciation for South African people, history, and culture that is deeply enriching. We look into the history of apartheid, examining both the international actions against the policies as well as how the system created economic imbalances within modern South Africa. We will partner with school and community groups in Port Elizabeth to make lasting connections and ensure a mutually beneficial exchange.

Vietnam, 2018

India, 2017

Senegal, 2018

Tahiti, 2018

Malawi, 2017

Vietnam, 2018

India, 2012

Vietnam, 2018

Senegal, 2016

India, 2017

Thailand, 2018

Thailand, 2018

Thailand, 2018

Peru, 2016

China, 2018

Cuba, 2017

Galapagos, 2015

Dominican Republic, 2017