Steamboat Mountain School program inspires global perspective
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — From stargazing in the Serengeti and dancing in Zanzibar to making marmalade and yucca bread in Ecuador, Steamboat Mountain School students shared their Global Immersion Studies experiences during a May 24 presentation at Bud Werner Memorial Library.
As part of the school’s Global Immersion Studies program, student groups travel every year to a developing-world country for four weeks. By the time they graduate, each Steamboat Mountain School student will have spent four months in four different countries.
Taking time to reflect upon their return enhances meaning and encourages insight and the development of a “compassionate and empathetic perspective and allows us to expand our thinking and consciousness,” said Margi Missling-Root, the school’s director of experiential education.
The program is aimed at immersing Steamboat Mountain School students into local families, culture and landscapes. It also has goals of boosting self-confidence and giving students a greater sense of the world and how they can contribute to it.
The trips and unique experiences allow students to “have first-hand encounters with the world the way it is,” Missling-Root said, “not the way they imagine it, nor the way they have been taught. They have the chance to have their bodies collide with the earth and bear witness to the discoveries that unfold.”
Through slides and their own essays and poetry, students shared insights into their own personal growth, like how people in developing countries create their own happiness and how life in the United States tends to be based more on material things.
Students talked about feeling at home in Tanzania because of the people they met.
“Education is a gift,” reflected Toby Morse after his trip to Morocco. “And though we often take it for granted, for many who have it much worse than we do, it is their source of hope that they wouldn’t trade for the world. So, I ask you to stop and think for a second, what is something that you take for granted that someone else might die for? And the next time, that thing starts to bother you or make you mad, just try and think about how lucky you actually are and how someone else would give up everything to be in the position you are in now.”
In Quito, Ecuador, student Eliana Brown described graffiti as art.
“Every building in this city, ancient or modern, is a canvas,” she said. “Deep in tunnels, on the undersides of bridges and stairs or running along on the thin sides of street curbs, you can find a miniature masterpiece in the oddest of places.”
In the closing speech, senior Ashley Simon talked about four years of travels, beginning with Vietnam and Cambodia her freshman year.
“The Global Immersion Studies program has forced us to step outside of our comfort zone, observe and experience the great, big, scary, beautiful world and learn to live a different narrative,” Simon said.
Simon also thanked Missling-Root for her leadership.
“She single-handedly organizes these trips and spends hundreds of hours planning and perfecting the itinerary,” Simon said.
Missling-Root, who traveled with students to Tanzania this year, said she was repeatedly asked a question by young Tanzanians that stuck with her and stymied her a bit, “How do I help my country?”
Doing her own reflecting when she got home, Missling-Root concluded, “Each of us can put our best effort into helping ourselves, so that we can perhaps help others to help themselves, and that is why we have this program.”
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