Studying abroad continues to be a valuable part of learning outside of the classroom at Edina High School (EHS)—even if it’s only for two weeks. In the past, EHS students have embraced a travel-based learning experience in China and focused on science in Fiji. The latest travel-based program underway is an exchange between EHS and its two sister schools in Andong, South Korea. The course tied to it focuses on global experience and social studies with an emphasis on government and writing standards, Edina High School principal Andrew Beaton says.
Last spring, 18 students from the schools—a girl’s school and a boy’s school—in Andong came to Edina to experience a new culture, country and school system for two weeks. After a summer apart, the 18 EHS students who hosted them will head to Andong to do the same for nine days in October. EHS students will only miss about two and a half days of school, as it falls on a teacher conference, so school isn’t in session, Beaton says.
“We think it’s important for students to grow and be able to experience something different than what they would experience in the United States, especially here in Edina, whether that’s culture, food or language,” Beaton says.
The program was introduced to rising sophomores. Those who wanted to go had to apply and be selected. The program acts as a true partnership: If students chose to go to South Korea this fall, they chose to host a South Korean student last spring. Before they go, they’ll do some Korean language basics. While in South Korea, students will attend the same classes as the South Korean students do, which may or may not be in English.
“Students do some work in advance of their travel, they do some work while they’re on the trip and they do some work post travel to be able to earn credit for the course,” Beaton says. “It’s really tied to a travel study not just a tour.”
The program stemmed from a mutual desire the schools have to learn more about each other’s cultures and school systems. It began about a year ago when Beaton met Hank Imm—who’s from South Korea and graduated from the University of Minnesota. He raised a family in Minnesota, and now works in finance and with some government organizations back in Seoul, South Korea. Imm reached out to Beaton and connected him with the schools in Andong. From there, they formed a partnership for the student exchange.
As October nears, EHS students are excited to experience daily life in South Korea. EHS student Libby Strittmater hopes to learn how the country operates under a different government with different community roles. “I’m excited to share my experience with the community at the end of the program, including my journaling and pictures from our activities,” she says.
For EHS student James Kellick, he has always been interested in how Asia differs from western countries. “I like to meet new people and want to see what it’s really like for the people who live in the country and not just see it through checklist tourism,” he says. In the future, there may be opportunities for a teacher exchange, Beaton says. In the end, it’s all about furthering an understanding of a different culture, country and school system.
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