We believe boarding school offers the unique opportunity to enhance and expand the learning environment. Experiential Learning is a practice that engages Besant Hill School students in active, hands-on learning, integrating curricular goals with practical and consequential real-life experiences.
Experiential Learning encompasses a broad variety of learning activities. We include:
- outdoor education
- adventure learning
- service projects
- performing & visual arts opportunities
- professional internships
- senior Capstone Projects
- group-based learning projects
- world travel
- cross-cultural collaboration
This educational approach begins in the classroom, expands to the community, and eventually takes the learning process into the world at large. Building on our mission to actively engage learners in progressive education models, our students have the opportunity to travel regionally, nationally, and internationally for Experiential Learning projects.
Faculty members, students, and members of the administration create meaningful, curriculum-based trips to support our educational objectives. It is our goal to have students participate in these trips once every two years. Travel dates coincide with school breaks, and students are given the opportunity to choose from a tiered menu of proposed destinations and projects.
Ecuador & Galápagos Islands
This Experiential Learning trip provided a real-world understanding of the natural history of the Galápagos Islands and learn about Ecuadorian culture. Guided by Broadreach guides, students learned about Ecuador’s history, geography and vibrant traditions from local guides. The Galápagos Islands offer a unique environment of endemic species and rich biodiversity. The group learned about diverse animal habitats that make these remote islands so special. As students explored the islands, they gained a greater appreciation for the local species and the conservation efforts used to maintain their ecosystems.
Click here to view photos from Ecuador & Galapagos Islands!
Faculty members Brook Masters, Brian McColgan and Alexis Spina, along with partnering organization Sofia Travel Co. led twenty-two student participants in a ten-day educational journey through Italy. Upon their return, they shared their experience with the community during a special assembly. They reflected on their personal highlights from the trip, noting the fantastic food in Florence, the breathtaking beauty of our Cinque Terra hike, and Western History brought to life in Rome. They will never forget the incredible art from the many museums, and the iconic locations of Italy, such as the leaning tower of Pisa and Vatican City. Above all, friendships and the bonds of community were strengthened throughout our time together.
Click here to view photos from Italy!
Faculty leaders Cheryl MacPherson and Nestor Geronimo, along with partnering organization Sustainable Horizon, embarked on a People-to-People Educational Exchange in beautiful Cuba. From Havana to Santa Lucia Beach, 17 students explored the history and beauty of this country. We will participate in a three-day community service and home-stay project, through which students will earn a total of 18 hours of community service. Time was focused on cultural immersion and connection with Cuban farmers, artists, musicians, and youth.
Click here to view photos from Cuba!
Besant Hill Students flew from LA to Thessaloniki, taking their first day to settle into the Greek culture and eat amazing Greek food. Moving on from Thessaloniki, students toured ancient churches and the underground tombs of Vergina. Students hiked along the mountainside village of Litochoro, on the slopes of Mt. Olympus, and took time to visit the Monasteries of Meteora. With the guidance of Sofia Travel Co., our group toured the famous sites in Delphi and Athens. The visit to Greece included many expert lectures along the way as well as a day of volunteer service at the Helping Hands’ Athens Refugee Center.
Click here to view photos from Greece!
Besant Hill students traveled with Rustic Pathways to learn the Aussie way of life! Local service projects had participants connecting with an authentic Australian spirit of community while sleeping under the stars ignited their spirits of adventure.
New York City and Philadelphia, U.S.
This trip provided participants with a cultural immersion with these two historically rich and diverse cities. Students learned about the historical relevance of well-known tourist attractions and spent Thanksgiving in Philadelphia, home to some of the earliest European settlers.
Besant Hill School and Sustainable Horizon teamed up once more to participate in a service project with the Boruca Indigenous Reserve. Local families hosted students while they worked with community members to construct a much-needed handicap accessible ramp to the local schoolhouse.
Partnering with Sustainable Horizon, Besant Hill School traveled to the Children’s Village in Bhakunde, an organization providing orphans and underprivileged children with much-needed education, medical support, daily care, and career advancement. Participants volunteered with the Children’s Village for five days before setting off on a three-day Tea House Trek through the base of the Himalayas.
This trip brought students into the heart of a local organization providing education and enrichment for children in Cameroon. Our students worked alongside BHS chaperones, in partnership with local community members, to rebuild and restore vital facilities used by the children.
Return to Mexico
This year, students returned to work with the local school in Tuxtla Gutierrez once more, building connections with the local community while learning about traditional Mexican culture, language, and culinary techniques.
BHS returned to Italy once more, to help The Art Monastery settle into its new home in Labro, Italy. Students participated in a week-long Intensive Arts Workshop while examining the cross-section of creativity and community.
Return to New Orleans, LA
Besant Hill students returned to continue the crucial work in the Lower 9th Ward with Common Ground Collective, this time taking a close look at U.S. History and Government Policies, and their impact on race relations and socio-economic class structures.
Mexico City and Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico
This project immersed students in the heart of both modern and indigenous Mexican culture. Students had the opportunity to volunteer at a children’s home in San Juan Chamula, serving the indigenous community of Chamula Indians.
San Francisco, CA
A study of the Beat Generation and the Counter Culture Revolution engaged students with this vibrant bastion of culture and history. Students volunteered the Beat Museum, worked with organizers for the Harvey Milk Day and participated in Spoken word workshops.
Return to Cairo, Egypt
Besant Hill School returned to Cairo, this time partnering with the non-profit organization Al Sorat Farm. Students made inquiries into the lives of Egyptian women, exploring how feminism and the culture of modern day Egypt intersect.
Calvi del Umbria, Italy
In partnership with The Art Monastery, an intentional community of transformative artists, Besant Hill students participated in a ten-day workshop exploring the Art of Community. Students created a composting system, helped expand the sustainable garden, and participated in daily art workshops with community members.
Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans
in partnership with Common Ground Collective, students volunteered to rebuild this hard-hit community after Hurricane Katrina.
in partnership with Global Exchange, students volunteered with non-profit groups to learn about the work Chavez was doing to build up community-based organizations and projects, providing international models to serve as development alternatives to neo-liberal policies.
In partnership with Desert’s Edge Cairo, an alternative education school for ex-patriot and refugee students, participants studied Egyptian history, culture, and religion while participating in several community service projects, including establishing the Donkey Library, which distributed books to rural children via a donkey and cart.