The Beacon School is a national leader in global experiential learning.  This year's trips to Mozambique, Nicaragua and Ecuador build on a decade-long tradition of travel in countries as diverse as South Africa, Russia, Sweden, Mexico, Venezuela, and India.  Beacon trips are based on a simple premise: high school students can simultaneously study, experience and make history.  In each journey, students build upon their classroom studies with real in-country experiences that range from cross-border field-research, house gutting and rebuilding, scientific experimentation, and, most recently, performances of Jazz Natyam (a NYC-based fusion of Jazz and Indian classical dance) on premiere stages in southern India.

Students apply what they learned while traveling in final projects that extend from (the basic) research papers, spoken-word performances, and multimedia arts installations at Beacon to (the visionary) photography exhibitions at the Venezuelan consulate, slideshows / speeches / calls to action before the NY state assembly, and building a (15+ high school strong) youth movement to fundraise and actively rebuild houses in New Orleans. 

 

"Global Cold War Seminar": Mozambique (2009)
"Global Environmental Politics": Ecuador (2009)
"Latin American Poltical Economy": Nicaragua (2009)
"India's Global Rise": southern India (2008)
"Tropical Ecology": Costa Rica (2008)
"Borders Seminar": Mexico and California (2007)
"Seeking the Dharma: A Trailblazing Journey through the NW Sublime" (2008)
"Latin American Politics": Venezuela (2006)
"Post-Apartheid Democracy in South Africa": South Africa (2005)
"Post-Soviet Socialisms": Sweden and Russia (2006)
"Race and Class in American Society": New Orleans (2005)







Seeking the Dharma:
A Trailblazing Journey through the Northwest Sublime.

In the summer of 2008, 11 students and 2 teachers traveled through the Pacific Northwest in search of the dharma. The dharma has no straight definition: to some it means an escape from suffering, to others a mystery of the grand mountains, prehistoric oceans, and green cities. During the week-long journey, they completed a circle that included two nights of camping on Mount Rainer, a visit to the Yakama Indian Reservation in eastern Washington, a scenic tour of the Columbia River Gorge and Beacon Rock, a roof garden and bicycle journey through Portland, surf camping on the Oregon Coast, and a leisurely swim in an urban lake in the middle of Seattle. All participants read Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums and watched Steven Spielberg's The Goonies in preparation for the trip. Upon returning to Beacon, they created a multimedia art installation to share the Northwest sublime with the Beacon community.
a short film.

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Experiencing India's Global Rise
Twenty-eight Beacon students along with live musicians and teachers traveled across three cities in south India. The eighteen-day travel schedule included live performances, a student exchange with Delhi Public School and educational trips to a village, ashram and many cultural/historic sites. The group (11 boys and 16 girls) presented performances at prestigious venues in Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. The performance was choreographed by Sudha Seethararam and included the participation of Trilok Fusion artists Marina Alam, Diego Campo, Gajender Shiwalker. The performance was a sampling of JazzNatyam, a dance form pioneered by Sudha Seetharaman, which seamlessly blends Jazz music, Bharatanatyam and Indian classical music.

The trip was filmed by Trilok Fusion artist Sachin and directed by Anand Kamalakar and is currently being edited into a documentary. The project attracted considerable media interest in India and was covered by a national newspaper and television channel. This trip was life transforming for the students, who had to write an essay about their experiences on their return. This project was part of a global history class taught by David McDougal. David and Abby Lublin, teachers from The Beacon School, spearheaded this effort in collaboration with Trilok Fusion Arts in Brooklyn.

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Tropical Ecology in Costa Rica.
In February 2008, students from the Beacon School's Tropical Ecology class traveled to Costa Rica and worked with the Cloudbridge Nature Reserve in Mt ChirripĆ³'s rainforest. Students spent time on the country's idyllic Pacific Coast as well as the dense cloud forest, working with researchers to help preserve and rebuild this depleting ecosystem. Students enjoyed long hikes, utilized their Spanish skills, and learned from some of the world's premier environmental scholars and scientists.

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US-Mexico Border.
On their trip to Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego, California in October 2007, Beacon students examined the changing US-Mexico relationship by getting first hand accounts of the problems and issues involved with the US/Mexico border. Some topics covered included the US-Mexican economy and investment, the maquila production system, the Mexican labor union system, the efforts of workers to form their own independent unions, community organization in working class neighborhoods, environmental damage from industrial pollution, women's issues in terms of labor, reproductive rights and gender equality, and the current militarization of the US/Mexico border. During the trip students also visited the high schools in Tijuana and San Diego to compare the lives of the students on both sides of the border.
http://www.beaconschool.org/experience/trips/mexico07/intro.htm

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Latin American Political Economy: Nicaragua (2009)
This February, twenty students and two teachers from Beacon will travel to Nicaragua to study history, politics and fair trade first hand. Starting in Managua, they will meet with Sandinista Party representatives to discuss past conflicts and how to look ahead to the future. Then in Matagalpa and La Corona, they will work on fair trade coffee cooperatives and stay in the homes of local coffee farmers. Through interviews, discussion, and participant-observation, students will explore how current government programs and the introduction of fair trade practices affect the politics, livelihoods, and culture of the region. In preparation for the trip, students attend a weekly afterschool program that is supplemented by watching films and reading on their own time. In this afterschool course, they 1) study the history of Nicaragua from Somoza to the present, 2) evaluate explanations for the causes of, effects of, and proposed solutions to wide-spread poverty in Nicaragua, and 3) hear first hand accounts from American and Nicaraguan participants in the Sandinista movement in the 80s and 90s.

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