Branson School News, Sports, Life and Opinion

The Blazer

Branson’s student-run newspaper
Branson School News, Sports, Life and Opinion

The Blazer

Branson School News, Sports, Life and Opinion

The Blazer

Students explore climate and ethics leadership in study abroad; new offerings

Rosie Slayen ’25 playing for a basketball team in Israel. Slayen returned from overseas in November. Courtesy: Rosie Slayen

When asked to picture students learning, you probably imagine a lesson inside a classroom. But what about on a beach by the Atlantic Ocean? Or at the U.S.-Mexico border? 

Once again, Branson students will have the opportunity to embark on trips around the world this year, be that in Panama, Singapore or Tijuana, Mexico. While these trips take place in different locations, they all share a common educational theme. 

“The focus of every trip is ethical leadership and/or climate leadership,” said Peter Zdrojewski, director of outdoor and global education. 

Leadership, he said, should be demonstrated outside the classroom as a complement to the curriculum students learn in school. However, this learning isn’t a one-way street. 

“When we’re going on these trips, it’s a mutual investment where we’re learning as much as we’re gaining from a community,” said Zdrojewski.

In practice, this means engaging with local schools in the Bahamas, helping recently deported people at the border of Tijuana, or harvesting lettuce on a farm in Panama. 

Ella Loiacano ‘24 experienced that last example on the Panama trip in spring 2023, where students worked as a team to prepare dinner. 

“I’d say overall, it was just great being in a community that was doing good for the world and was also just supportive,” Loiacano said. “Everyone’s involved and you have to put your all into it, or else you’re not gonna get that positive outcome.”

In addition to this collaboration between students, there is also a bigger joint effort at play between Branson and the organizations it works with.  

Over the years, Branson has partnered with Students Shoulder-to-Shoulder, RealAsia and the Island School for the Panama and San Diego/Tijuana, Singapore/Malaysia, and Bahamas trips, respectively — organizations dedicated to global education and changemaking.

“Not only is it easier logistically, but also from an ideological standpoint,” Zdrojewski said on the importance of relationships with global partners.

Retaining these partnerships over the years allows Branson to build meaningful connections based on shared ideals.

In addition to the Panama, Singapore, and Tijuana trips happening over spring break and the Bahamas trip happening over midwinter break in February, there are two “one-off” trips this year. In March, there is a New York City Model UN conference, led by MUN faculty adviser Paul McCarthy. There is also an April 8 trip to Texas to see the solar eclipse, led by Astronomy and Astrophysics teacher Karl Schmidt.

The college-touring bus trip, however, was canceled. The touring company Branson has historically worked with was unable to run the trip, due to post-COVID cost inflation. 

“I know folks behind the scenes are seeing if another option could happen, but I think we’ll have to wait and see,” Zdrojewski said.

All students are allowed and encouraged to email trip leaders to apply or ask questions. You can also find more information under the Global Ed Program resources tile in Blackbaud. 

“[The school] wants and supports every student to have the chance to go on at least one trip over their four years,” Zdrojewski said.

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