As a community of international school educators, we take the responsibility of educating the students in our charge very seriously. Travel presents us with new situations, new challenges and new experiences that push us out of our comfort zones. Travel has the power to engage us like few things can, and it is our primary aim to harness that power to Educate, Challenge and Inspire students on CAS Trips.
Experiential learning, for us, means moving beyond the classroom and immersing in experiences that can teach us invaluable and unlimited life lessons about ourselves and the world we live in.
Pushing your physical limitations on a 5-hour trek to the spectacular Tiger’s Nest monastery in Bhutan, testing our creative capacity with a Sustainable Design workshop in Prague or helping to rebuild and develop the amenities of a rural village in Peru are all incredible life experiences that aid character development and immerse us in the values of CAS.
However, in order to maximize the benefit of on-trip experiences, we have developed a key set of tools and frameworks, which are the cornerstone of CAS Trips’ unique methodology.
The Changemakers Challenge
The concept of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals drives everything we do – from our own 17 Changemaker Goals to working with local charities in our locations.
In each and every CAS Trip, students will confront at least 4 UN SDGs. From Goal 13 – Climate Action in Colombia’s jungles to Goal 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions in Geneva’s UN Office, students participate in customized projects and challenges that explore and contribute towards the achievement of the goals, specifically relevant to each destination.
But just as with any travel experience, there is the challenge of relating these lessons to our own society, and ensuring the lessons we learn are applied back home too.
The 17 UN SDGs are a framework to achieve a better, more sustainable future for all by the year 2030. They can be utilized to provide structure and focus for students’ long-term CAS commitments. The goals come with 169 quantifiable targets which, when used as a lense to investigate their own cultures and communities, allow for the experiences from a CAS Trip in a foreign culture to be translated and applied to tackling situations in students’ hometowns and cities through their CAS output back home.
We set out to achieve this through our innovative Changemakers Challenge – a dynamic 2-hour on-trip workshop to introduce students to the UN SDGs, giving them a clear framework to analyze the local and global context of the Goals they have engaged with on their CAS Trip, and how the same Goals and targets may apply to their school or community at home.
One of the first steps is to determine the students’ individual ‘Changemaker Types’ via an in-depth personality test. Here, students test their reactions to situations to ascertain whether they are campaigners, creators, networkers etc before forming balanced small teams.
Thereafter, Changemaker teams collaborate to investigate, plan and organize a collaborative CAS Project. Each and every student should return home from a CAS Trip ready to implement their long-term project.
And we are so committed to motivating students to realize their team’s Changemakers Challenge plans that we offer an exclusive all-expenses paid trip to the Global Student Exchange program of their choice for the most innovative project!
Reflections Workshop and Challenge
CAS Trips take inspiration from the International Baccalaureate – a holistic educational program which emphasises the central role that reflection plays in education. Allowing students time and space to reflect on and respond to the process and challenges faced on the way, as opposed to focussing solely on the result, encourages healthy personal development in line with the IB’s Learner Profile.
But the challenge faced by many educators is how to encourage students to engage in meaningful reflection and not just retrospective musings.
The aim of CAS Trips’ Reflections Challenge is to prove that reflections do not have to be a burden but can be quick, easy, fun and purposeful.
Students are sent a Reflections resource pack with an easy-to-follow guide on how to construct a meaningful reflection, including pre and post experience reflection, useful questions to ask, creative mediums of reflection and how to utilize the IB’s 7 Learning Outcomes.
On-trip, students are asked to create a pre-reflection about their expectations of one particular activity in the itinerary, while also being set the task of capturing evidence of their CAS experiences in the form of photos, videos, drawings and whatever else they can create.
The climax of any CAS Trip is then a 45-minute Reflections Symposium, led by CAS Guides and teachers. Here, students are asked to share their interpretations and expectations of their experience before being set a high-octane challenge, to create their own innovative post-experience reflection using the evidence they have gathered and their pre-trip reflection.
We also reward students for meaningful reflections. Once again, there is a prize for the most innovative offering with the student who submits the best reflection winning a Polaroid camera.
Of course, you do not need to travel the world to implement these tools and frameworks. We encourage teachers and students to reach out to us directly to discuss how you can make use of them at your school and within your local community.
But leaving your comfort zone, and traveling to discover new cultures has proven to be one of the most effective ways to make a difference. So what are you waiting for? Select a destination and embark upon the school trip of a lifetime!