As the world becomes more accessible through online research and affordable flights, cultural immersion becomes a priority for students and parents alike. The BBC reported that the number of international students worldwide rose from 0.8 million in 1975 to 3.7 million in 2009. The article also found that the number of students studying abroad continues to rise at a steady rate of 12% each year, underlining the trend for cultural immersion. Righteously so, as travel is often said to be the best education.
But what does cultural immersion really mean? Cultural immersion is all about being open-minded when arriving in a new country in order to learn about the country’s history, culture, its people and the way they live. And whilst immersing yourself in a new culture is an incredible experience, educational travel is really taken to the next level when students participate in intercultural collaboration – something we at CAS Trips pride ourselves on. Intercultural collaboration allows students from all over the world to come together and explore a new country and culture – often embracing the environmental and social change by collaborating with locals and fellow travelers alike.
How CAS Trips Embraces Intercultural Collaboration
For the past years, we at CAS Trips have worked with hundreds of schools from different continents and if there is one thing we have learned it is the importance of intercultural behavior. In today’s turbulent times, it is certainly not a given that we all get along and embrace our unique traditions, religions, cultures and race. Unfortunately, our daily media continues to portray people around the world having a hard time in doing so. But not students. It is fascinating for us to observe that there has never been a case of intercultural conflict on any single CAS Trip. That being said, there are occasional dance offs at one of our legendary discos between the Brazilian and British students! We all know who will wins that battle!
CAS Trips have never shied away from embracing the cultural differentiation we all face today by discussing topics that might be difficult, such as a trip to Auschwitz during our Krakow trip or embracing the difference of religion during the Mosque visit in Edinburgh. During each of our trips, we plan different activities that are linked to Creativity – Activity – Service. We like to use the word “challenge” because some of these might be outside students’ comfort zones and push boundaries. Yet they will enlighten and engage students for a lifetime. After all, it’s not every day that you hear about the Syrian refugee conflicts in Berlin or the challenges of reforestation in Colombia. But together from students around the world, who all come with a backpack of their own traditions, cultures and beliefs, we can tackle each of the subjects and together experience a learning curve to remember. A survey by WYSE Travel Confederation showed that 80% of students between the age of 12 and 18 found that educational travel sparked greater interest in what they were taught in school.
We understand the hardship that students might go through during their trips and have integrated a Reflection Workshop, whereby our trained CAS tour guides will help students reflect on their challenges and ensure that everyone is able to connect no matter their cultural background.
Cleo, from New York City and one of our fellow Prague Spring 2018 explorers summarized it nicely by saying “I am meeting people from all over the world, which is crazy! I didn’t think that I would be able to connect with all these people but we actually have more in common than you might think.”
Collaborating towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Our mission is to show students around the world what a beautiful and unique planet we live in, and how – together – we can collaborate to ensure generations to come can experience the world as it is now. Before embarking on any of our trips, we take the time to explain the concept of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) to parents, teachers and students. No matter what trip you choose, there is a minimum of four UN SDGs tackled. Students will learn why these are important and how they will confront them during the trip of their choice. But it doesn’t end there – through the use of The Changemaker, a unique CAS Trips program, students have a chance to put their learnings into actions back in their home communities by initiating a project of their own to continue making a difference in the world.
Prague Spring: Our Ultimate Intercultural Collaboration Trip
In 2018 we broke our record! We had over 350 students from 38 nationalities representing 26 international schools across the world participate in this year’s Prague Spring trip.
Prague Spring is our ultimate intercultural collaboration trip due to the many creativity, activity and service challenges that students need to cooperate on and complete together. From simple ice breaker activities on the first night to the homeless cooking challenge, collaboration is key. During our urban treasure hunt, students of varying nationalities work in teams to explore Prague and work together to beat competing groups to the winning prize! Our Homeless Cooking Challenge, a more sincere collaboration is needed whereby communication and teamwork is key to ensure that the homeless community of Prague are served a meal of the students’ creation. During the Organic Farm Challenge, students put the lessons of the UN SDGs in action and work together to help local farmers. One of the most challenging yet rewarding activities is the Street Magazine Fundraising Challenge, whereby you students help the homeless community sell their monthly magazines in order to raise money and awareness.
Leena Chettri, Biology Teacher from NPS International School, Singapore says “The student benefits greatly – they come to a totally new country, they learn about a new culture, a new language and traditional food! More than that, they make new friends from different parts of the world and now they are going back home with so many friends from so many nationalities which is great!”
Are you ready for some intercultural collaboration of your own? Join us in Prague next Spring!