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We are now just over halfway through this incredible journey through Rome and Greece, and as I reflect on the past two weeks of our program, I am overcome with pride in how much growth and maturity I have seen in your children in such a short period of time. We hope you have enjoyed the pictures and videos that our Activity Coordinator Isabel and staff have posted in the travel journal and on Instagram. We have tried to capture as many images to share with you so that you can feel as though you are sharing some of these incredible moments with your children while they are abroad.

As the Program Manager, I would like to summarize for you some of the themes of opportunity, community, and responsibility that I have had the pleasure of witnessing over these past two weeks.

It is safe to say that your children have been given an incredible opportunity to visit two amazing countries and a range of locales within them, from the busy and ancient city of Rome, with all of its history and monuments, to sailing the Saronic islands, and visiting the seaside towns of Poros and Kalamata. This experiential learning allows for so much engagement and connections to happen in their courses of study, allowing them to embrace and appreciate the culture in a meaningful way.

At times, these experiences have been more formal, with their teacher or guide explaining a part of their curriculum that allows them to make those first hand connections that Global Summers Academy prides itself on. However, it is often when students are exploring with a group of friends without any formal guide, experiencing these cities and islands, that they are developing their independence, and learning to be self-sufficient and effective problem solvers. They are shopping, interacting with locals or interpreting culture or historic sites first hand with help when they require it. 

They are not letting their time in these amazing locations slip away, and are taking advantage to soak it all in. They realize how special this opportunity is, and are taking the opportunity to experience it as mature and reflective young adults.

I know many parents may have been a little anxious about their child’s readiness to be away from home on their own. The students on this program have truly shown that they were ready for that opportunity and have demonstrated their maturity by taking full advantage of what you offered them this summer through this Global Summers Academy program. The investment made is one that is invaluable and will not soon be forgotten.

From the first day of the program, our staff have stressed the importance of developing a strong and supportive community. The importance of supporting one another academically and socially is vital for the success of this program. With parents thousands of kilometres away, our goal is to ensure that we are providing care and empathy as we deal with the ups and downs of being so far away from our families at home in Canada.

After the first week in Rome, we have continuously been awestruck by the growth we have seen in our students. They have formed strong bonds and connections, and are supportive and empathetic to their new found friends. We have witnessed them not only coming out their shells, but going out of their way to ensure everyone is safe and included. In their classes, they support each other, are collaborative, and help one another keep up with the fast paced curriculum that they are experiencing together.

They are learning the art of compromise and fair decision making when deciding what to do at night or on weekends based on the interests of everyone rather than just their own. When students have missed home, felt ill, or felt stressed about schoolwork, other students have shown empathy and care when helping their new friend work through it. The maturity of the students on the program is truly evident on a daily basis and they have built a strong community of 36 students in a very short period of time.

In the near future, for most of these students, post-secondary education is a next step. This program has provided them with a ‘test run’ of what being away from home, managing their time independently, and living in a small space with someone new can be like, and how to navigate the ups and downs that inevitably occur during that time.  It has been clear that given their level of maturity they have shown so far in such a short period of time, they will be ready for that independent life of post-secondary education.

Many parents may have wondered about the safety of their child as they are so far away from their safety net of home. Our staff has continuously been impressed with the level of responsibility and good judgment all of our students have displayed so far on our program. With so many opportunities in front of them, and a lot of independence given to them, they could easily make some poor choices. But this group has far exceeded any of our expectations, and have not faltered in the trust we have given them.

I am so impressed with their level of maturity and ability to make good choices for themselves and each other. They have taken their responsibility seriously and have followed the Global Summers guidelines to ensure their safety. The few times there has been where a student has faltered, it has been handled as an opportunity to learn from it. This opportunity will prepare them for when they truly leave the nest in the near future. Our group of students have shown respect for themselves and each other and have represented their families, our school, our country, and themselves in such a positive way that locals at all of our locations have commented on our fantastic group of Canadian students.

As a staff we have also commented just how well this group travels. We have had some long challenging days of travel that have often tested our patience, ability to deal with motion sickness, and extreme unrelenting heat. Through all of this, our students have remained positive, respectful, and adventurous on this program. Thank you for raising such thoughtful, responsible and respectful young adults. Our staff continue to appreciate just how lucky we are to have this incredible group of students on the program.

We are less than 10 days away from coming home. It is clear that although our students are excited to be reunited with their families on the 26th, they are also going to miss the friendships they have formed. Thank you parents for giving your children this invaluable opportunity for personal growth, adventure, and experiential learning. I look forward to seeing them continue to develop and take advantage of the opportunities still to be had over the next week and a half. 

Yours in travel and learning,

Liz Piccioni

Program Manager