This summer, a record number of Notre Dame high school students travelled internationally to participate in academic, service, and enrichment exchanges.
Six students and chaperones represented the Academy's Center for Global Leadership on an academic exchange with students and host families from Notre Dame's sister school, Michael Ham Memorial College in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The students stayed with host families who introduced them to Argentinian culture and family life. During their time at Michael Ham, the students participated in classes and gathered with the school community to celebrate Flag Day. Junior Grace Rivers noted in her blog post, "We heard the Argentina national anthem and experienced the pride Argentinians have for their country. It was so interesting to see!" The students, along with their hosts, attended an Opera at the famous Teatro Colón, a polo match in the countryside, went horseback riding, and tasted traditional Argentine foods. After saying goodbye to their families, the Notre Dame group traveled to the breathtaking Iguazú Falls and experienced their power from both the Argentina and Brazil sides. Upon returning to Buenos Aires for the last few days, the group attended Mass, visited the local markets, and traveled north of the city to Santa Susana ranch to ride horses and experience the traditions of gauchos, tango and milonga dance, and taste Churrascaria meats.
A second group of nine students and chaperones represented Notre Dame at the Academy's two sister schools in Japan and Singapore. Students first traveled to Japan to live with host families and attend classes at Notre Dame Seishin School in Hiroshima. The students visited Hiroshima Peace Park and Peace Museum, Hiroshima Castle, and Shukkein Garden. During their time in Japan, they had lessons in Japanese and calligraphy and gained a deeper understanding of the Japanese tea ceremony. The group traveled to Kyoto on the Japanese Shinkansan bullet train to experience a tea ceremony with a Tea Master and attended Mass at St. Francis Xavier Church, the Kyoto cathedral. The students then travelled to Singapore to attend classes at the St. Nicholas School. At St. Nicholas School, the students introduced themselves to the school at a school assembly. On their second day, they had the opportunity to experience a special celebration which occurs only every three years.
Twenty students and chaperones travelled to Guanacaste, the Northwest corner and cultural heart of Costa Rica, for an educational and service-oriented exchange. The students visited the Tropical Dry Forests of Rincón de La Vieja National Park, where they explored and discussed the geological impact of the area on the biology and culture of Costa Rica. Following that, students worked with residents of the Village of Santa Barbara for two days on community improvement projects and then traveled to the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, to help build infrastructure to filter water for the ranger station. The goal of the project is to create a "biogarden" to provide a second use to the grey waters (coming from bathroom & kitchen sinks and laundry) from the facilities of the ranger station. On their final day, students worked with the local NGO Costas Verdes to participate in a reforestation project, to restore a biological corridor in the unique and threatened Tropical Dry Forest of Guanacaste.
Twenty students and chaperones travelled to France, beginning their trip in Nice, Monaco, medieval towns along the French Riviera. The students explored beautiful Provence and visited the studio of Cezanne and museum tours. Their trip continued with a visit to Avignon, concluding with Paris and tours of Paris' iconic sights and museums.