Spring Break

Students Trek to Chile, Ireland, South Africa with ICGL

Junior Graeme Davidson enjoyed the ICGL trip to Lesotho and South Africa in 2016.
Photo: Jonathan Rushton

Throughout the first two grueling months of second semester, most students look forward to the one-week haven at the beginning of March: spring break. Pace families will travel to places such as Sea Island, Deer Valley or the Bahamas, along with many other parts of the world.

In recent years, participating in the Isdell Center for Global Leadership trips have become an increasing draw for Pace students. These trips provide lifelong memories, as students experience diverse communities that are worlds apart from Buckhead.

With previous trips going to places such as Japan, Botswana and Madagascar, Pace students are able to see cultures they might not otherwise ever visit.  “Last year, I was able to visit Lesotho and South Africa, which was a real eye-opening experience,” said junior Graeme Davidson. “Before this trip, I didn’t even know Lesotho was an independent country, and without ICGL, I would never have learned about Lesotho or met all the wonderful people there.”

This spring break, groups of Pace upper school students will travel to Chile, Ireland and South Africa. “The ICGL trips are designed to give students the opportunity to develop their global mindset: the ability to see issues from multiple economic, cultural and political points of view,” said ICGL Director Trish Anderson.

A group of students led by fifth grade teacher Rebecca Rhodes and chemistry teacher Joe Sandoe are headed to Chile, where they will work with Habitat for Humanity. For the sixth time, the students will help this nonprofit build houses or additions to homes, having previously gone to places including Cambodia and Bolivia. In Chile, students will work with Habitat’s “Bring Our Children Home” program, which adds accessible rooms to houses so that children with serious illnesses can remain in their homes and continue their medical treatment under the care of their families. Along with building for a week, the students will travel throughout Chile, visiting Santiago, the Pucón Region and the Andes Mountains. “Even though a lot of seniors are going on senior spring break, the Chile trip seems just as fun and even more rewarding because of the service,” said senior Zoe Weitzner.

Freshman dean and history teacher Grady Stevens will lead another group of Pace students to Ireland, where they will team up with The Third Half and SARI (Sport Against Racism Ireland). SARI, an Irish non-profit that coordinates sporting events to bring together people from different cultures and backgrounds, promotes intercultural dialogue and celebrates cultural diversity. SARI is teaming up with The Third Half, whose goal is to experience the power of soccer as a tool for positive social change and personal growth. These two organizations will bring the Pace students to Dublin and Belfast to work with local youth.

“Working with The Third Half gives the opportunity for the students to learn something about the world and themselves that isn’t taught inside of the classroom,” said Mr. Stevens. “The goal of this trip is to help immigrant populations (Syrian Refugees) integrate better into Irish society through soccer.” Students will play soccer games and help with educational projects in schools with disadvantaged youth, promoting an international cultural interchange and celebrating cultural diversity. Along with service, students will enjoy the natural beauty of Ireland, visit historical sites and tour EPIC Ireland, an interactive exploration of the journey and impact of Irish immigrants in the world. “The goal of these trips is for students to not travel for the sake of being tourists, but rather designed to increase their awareness of global issues,” said Mr. Stevens.

ICGL’s third upper school spring break trip will be led by Ms. Anderson, as the group heads to South Africa. Pace will work in partnership with Oceans Research, an organization that trains students hoping they’ll become researchers or conservationists. The group will travel to Mossel Bay, sitting halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. The bay is a part of the famous Garden Route, known for its diversity in nature and climate. With the trip’s educational focus, the group will learn about current marine and terrestrial research projects along with studying white sharks and dolphins and “The Big Five”—rhinos, elephants, buffalo, lions and leopards.

“I can’t wait to see and study all these exotic animals on this trip,” said junior Xion Johnson. “Once I heard the details of this trip, I realized I had to go.” The group will stay at Oceans Research’s facility and camp at a wildlife reserve. The more touristy part of the trip will include spending several days in Cape Town, exploring Robben Island, Table Mountain and the Victoria waterfront.