Global study programs make full return

Haverford Students overlooking the shores of Casablanca – Abuobiada Elamin ’20

For the past decade, Haverford’s global studies program has allowed students to immerse themselves in foreign environments. From Ecuador to Iceland, the opportunities presented by these programs allow students to strengthen their understanding of different cultures. Having the opportunity to go farther than the classroom and temporarily live in unfamiliar places is a huge privilege with many positive effects on our community. Whether it be establishing genuine relationships or indulging in cultural traditions, interacting with other parts of the world is beneficial.

Director of Global Studies Mr. Andrew Poolman believes strongly in the importance of education through these international study programs. 

“These programs provide an opportunity for students to try something new, to get out of their comfort zone, to expand the academic limits and borders we have here and to immerse themselves in a new country, a new culture, a new language,” Mr. Poolman said. 

In addition to becoming educated on certain cultures, establishing relationships is also key. 

“Making personal connections with peer students, or anyone that has a different perspective than we do, is a large aspect of these programs,” Mr. Poolman said. 

The school offers five study or exchange programs every year, and they all have different focuses. 

“We run language-based programs like the travel study to Italy or the Ecuador exchange program,” Mr. Poolman said. “Other programs, especially those based around the Notables, are more of an exchange of ideas and getting to know students from another country,” Mr. Poolman said.

The Notables with Baldwin B-Flats near Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, Denmark – photo courtesy of Mr. Mark Hightower

Mr. Poolman offers a global perspectives class that is based on the ideas of these programs and allows students to take a step back and view the world through various lenses. “The course is rooted in content in the class and expanding our viewpoint and ability to take in different perspectives,” Mr. Poolman said. 

These study and exchange programs have been thriving over the past several years, and students have positive feedback about their experiences. 

Fifth Former Anthony Carter, who traveled to New Orleans last spring, gained a lot from his experience. “I liked getting to see a different culture than ours here, and I learned a lot of new historical facts I didn’t know before,” Carter said. 

Members of the Notables welcomed Danish students from the Ordrup Gymnasium Chorus Group to our community recently, a huge success. 

“It was a really interesting experience not only singing with the Danish students, but also getting to know them,” Fifth Former Chase Shatzman said. “I feel like I have a better appreciation for their country as well as their music and cannot wait until the Notables go to see them again in Denmark.”

It often creates a positive snowball effect and encourages other students to want to apply in the future.

Mr. Andrew poolman

Many students have signed up and are eager to participate in study programs this spring. 

In April, a handful of students will host Ecuadorian visitors and in return visit Guayaquil, Ecuador in August. One of these students, Fifth Former Samuel Jiru, said, “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to meet new people and put what I’ve been learning in Spanish to the test.”

Mr. Poolman is looking forward to a great year for the global studies programs coming off of COVID-19 restraints. 

“During pre-Covid times about 40% of the graduating class had at some point taken part in one of the programs,” Mr. Poolman said. “We had about 80 students who applied to our programs this year, which is a good number.” 

Mr. Poolman also encourages everyone to try one out during their time here.

“I think a lot of our students are hesitant at first to apply,” Mr. Poolman said. “But once they apply, go through the program, come back, and let certain aspects of what they learned resonate with them, it often creates a positive snowball effect and encourages other students to want to apply in the future.”