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Embracing Global Citizenship in Sri Lanka

By Anishka Yerabothu, VI Form

Embracing Global Citizenship in Sri Lanka

Editor’s Note: This article was previously published by Anishka Yerabothu and Educate Lanka in Medium. It is republished here with permission.

This summer, I traveled to Kandy, Sri Lanka for three weeks to volunteer with the Educate Lanka Foundation. I first came across Educate Lanka when I began researching global citizenship opportunities through my high school — St. Mark’s School— last fall. The opportunity with Educate Lanka immediately appealed to me and my parents because my great-grandparents lived in Sri Lanka for 40 years, leaving before the civil war that ravaged the country broke out in 1983. They carried with them their love for the country, the people, and the cuisine, and they shared that love with the entire family. My grandmother still prepares traditional Sri Lankan dishes we enjoy at home.

As part of my research into the opportunity with Educate Lanka, my family and I watched the TEDx Talk of Educate Lanka’s founder — Manjula Dissanayake; his message about creating universal opportunities resonated with my family. After conversations with Dr. Laura Appell-Warren, the Director of Global Citizenship at St. Mark’s, and Mr. Dissanayake about volunteering with Educate Lanka, we finalized the plan for my travel in June. We bought a plane ticket and arrangements for my stay in Sri Lanka were made in coordination with Educate Lanka staff.

On the morning of April 21, 2019, however, we woke to the shocking news of the Easter Sunday terrorist bombings at Sri Lankan churches and hotels.

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The LEGO Blue Suitcase Project

By Reina Wang, IV Form

The LEGO Blue Suitcase Project

In late August, I traveled to Pakistan as a part of the robotics Blue Suitcase Project. I brought the suitcase to The Lynx School in Islamabad, Pakistan. Pakistan is a country with a particularly high out-of-school rate for many children, especially girls. The head of school at The Lynx School was especially excited to hear about our project since there are few schools in Pakistan that offer Lego lessons, even among private schools.

During the Lego workshop, I first introduced the school to our robotics team and showed them photos of our new STEM building, the FRC competition we went to, and the robots we built from previous years. They were impressed by what we did and became increasingly interested in STEM. Starting with a basic understanding of all the parts of the Lego suitcase, the children began building the Lego car in small groups. The engineering part is about creativity, and they used their imagination to design the car based on the model given by the instructions. Then we moved on to programming with touch sensors, teaching the students how to go straight, turn, and bounce back once the car hits the wall. After I led them through the techniques, the children were able to create their own paths with a number of obstacles. 

This experience is brand new for the children I met in Pakistan. Lego inspires children with creativity, enhances their logic and problem-solving skills, and cultivates the ability to cooperate, communicate, and lead. The Lynx school is hoping to spread Lego robotics to many other schools in Islamabad, and they hope we can bring more advanced Lego systems back next year.

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Travel Reflections: Cultural Immersion in Lovely Airbnbs

By Suha Choi, IV Form

Travel Reflections: Cultural Immersion in Lovely Airbnbs

This June, when sunshine and the early hints of summer were slowly surrounding us, I was very lucky to travel to Europe with my family! This trip was the first time my sister and I visited Europe. We traveled in a rental minivan around many cities and sites. The route included Milan, Florence, Rome, Venice, Nancy, Paris, and Lucerne. I am extremely glad that I had a chance to visit countless sites of human history and landmarks! In this reflection, instead of simply listing the places I visited, I am going to recount a few moments that remain the most memorable to me. 

Culture lies everywhere, in the lifestyle and daily bases of people. It is embedded in the restaurants we go to, in the streets we walk, and on the faces and in the words of people we meet. But I believe that there is no place like home to reflect the cultures and lifestyles of people so precisely. What kind of food they eat, how many security locks are set in the door, what kind of books are stored on the shelves, and what time they turn off their lights and go to bed are the small details and factors that define identity and form a culture. During my trip, because our family chose to stay in Airbnbs, which are actual houses rented from the local people, instead of in regular hotels, we were able to directly experience the lifestyles of the people in Europe. Of the dozen of Airbnbs we have been to, two still linger in my heart, and I wish to share them. 

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Baseball: A Diplomatic Tool Between the U.S. and Cuba

By Matt Walsh, IV Form

Baseball: A Diplomatic Tool Between the U.S. and Cuba

When Mr. Calagione, our varsity baseball coach, first mentioned the prospect of visiting Cuba in the spring of 2017, I was dubious. Although President Obama had shown signs of improving diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2014, I had believed that American travel to Cuba would have to wait several years. The opportunity to immerse myself in the culture of Cuba, a country impoverished by many regimes of cruel dictators and gripped by the historical intervention of the United States and the Soviet Union, intrigued me. I never considered Mr. Calagione’s idea to visit Cuba as a realistic proposal. It was not until he gathered all members of the baseball team in October that the prospect of visiting Cuba became legitimate. The appearance of the word “Cuba” on that piece of paper immediately enlivened me. While I looked forward to playing baseball, enjoying the warm weather, and interacting with locals using my Spanish, the learning aspect of the trip was what excited me the most. The historical context of Cuba from colonialism to the revolution created a unique social, cultural, and political landscape that I was excited to learn about. My eagerness to learn about the livelihoods of those with different social and cultural backgrounds often drove me to engage in what I call “research frenzies”: the hectic act of researching a topic of interest by delving into articles, videos, and photos on the internet using more than thirty tabs. This was often a time consuming (and battery consuming) endeavor that acted in place of actual traveling, and it fulfilled my desire to learn about other cultures. I would always choose travel over feverishly scouring the internet, so the opportunity to visit Cuba for a week energized me. (more…)

Moral Obligation…in Hamlet & a Fetus

By Lulu Eastman, V Form

Moral Obligation…in Hamlet & a Fetus

Hamlet, a Shakespeare play, follows the tragic tale concerning a deeply troubled Danish prince of the same name. Hamlet is forced to confront his traitorous mother and uncle in order to avenge his murdered father, who, as a ghost, has requested Hamlet takes his uncle’s life in order to bring him justice. However, Hamlet is distressed by the thought of committing such a bloody deed. As he wavers through indecision regarding his proposed mission, he also struggles against the drowning weight of his depression, as the toxic environment of the palace causes him to lose faith in the goodness of people. In the novel, Nutshell, by Ian McEwan, the story of the fetus is based off of Hamlet. With the reflective fetus entangled in the plotting of his traitorous mother and uncle, he finds himself in a predicament similar to that of the Danish prince. Although he has yet to even experience life for his own, the fetus has already lost hope for the vitality and decency of humanity. Every moment of his being is spent listening to conversations that only reveal more and more of the villainous and duplicitous ways of his mother and uncle, Trudy and Claude. Both Hamlet and the fetus reach a point where they contemplate committing suicide, as it seems to be the only way to put an end to their pain. However, both decide to live instead. Though both Hamlet and the fetus have cynical views of the world, and both consider suicide, they continue living through their suffering because they have moral obligations, beliefs, and fears that bind them to life. (more…)

Namaste from Karanjo

By Yusra Syed, V Form

Namaste from Karanjo

My trip to India this past summer was the best decision I have ever made in my teenage years. As a youth ambassador to several charities and organizations that are actively working in India, I heard about Ekal Vidyalaya and the wonderful work that they were doing in the rural tribal areas of India. Last summer, I visited urban areas of India with other organizations and traveled with my family; however, I had never seen remote areas of India and was curious about the work Ekal does for the people living there. Their presence in the the less targeted areas of India sparked my interest, as I understood some of the challenges that India faced as a country.

Some of the challenges that India faces include:  screen-shot-2017-01-07-at-2-11-02-pm

  • Lack of Education
  • Urbanization
  • Limited access to Healthcare
  • Gender Roles
  • Lack of Sanitation
  • Water Scarcity
  • Financial Transparency

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