Summer Programs Feature: What Programs Did Students Participate In?

American Civil Rights Movement Immersion Program

Walking the very roads that civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr. had decades before, ten Andover students embarked on a 10-day trip across the South, visiting iconic sites of the Civil Rights Movement. Over the course of ten days, the group traveled from Missouri to Alabama, visiting important locations like Montgomery, Selma, and Memphis.

Faculty chaperones Allen Grimm, instructor in theater; Damany Fisher, instructor in history; and Judith Wombwell, instructor in dance, led the group on an in depth look at the start of an integral movement in American history.

Touring sites such as the Lorraine Motel (the site of the famed activist’s assassination), and the Southern Poverty Law Center, students gained a deeper understanding of the lasting effects of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and landmark court decisions that passed during the movement. A surprising stop to some was the Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis, one of the birthplaces of African-American music–most notably soul.

“When you think of civil rights, you don’t think of music, but actually, one of the things this trip sort of explained was how different types of media came together during the movement, and how artists during this movement used what they had in their arsenal in order to talk about what was going on for the rest of their people,” said Zach Ruffin ’17.

“I was never big on history, but I know the civil rights era is really important to pretty much everyone. It marks a change in how people from different viewpoints would eventually come to learn that. People fought to make themselves known, which was very important for everyone to realize. Everyone has a place in the world, no matter how corny that sounds,” he added.


BASK in ASK (Beijing Andover Shanghai Kunming in Andover Summer Kunming) program uses a multidisciplinary and multicultural approach to focus on a pair of environmental issues critical to both China and the U.S: climate change and water issues. Andover students partnered with Chinese students from partner schools to participate in this intensive 3-week program in Kunming, China.

Students in the program learned about water scarcity, quality and quantity. They took classes in economics, social philosophy, language and culture, and visited water filtration facilities, a rose nursery and local lakes to gain a better understanding of the water issues facing China. Students also bonded through daily activities such as, sports, tai chi, and yoga.

Andover students paired with the Chinese students, with whom they studied and shared their perspectives on topics discussed throughout the program.
“Being able to work through complicated issues in biology, all the subjects that [my partner and I] talked about together, was probably my favorite part of BASK. Working through these issues and seeing it from the two different perspectives that we each brought, one from a Chinese education and one from an American education was a very interesting,” said Joel Peña ’16.

For Gherardo Morona ’17, the program has helped him become more aware of stereotypical biases in the media.

“I realized that lot of the articles that I read about China [in the United States], about its economy, politics, etc. has a lot of information that could be true but a lot of it could also be said from a stereotypical standpoint, and I think that after going to BASK…has been beneficial in allowing me to look at these articles published in the US with a more critical standpoint.” said Morona ’17.

Berlin History, Culture and Language Week

For a week, twelve students transformed the city of Berlin into a classroom, exploring its art, architecture, and historical monuments to gain a better understanding of German culture and history. During the trip, students frequently traversed the city on their bicycles, engaging in conversations with locals along the way and improving their lingual skills.

“It definitely helped me with my German oral skills, because even though you do that during class, it’s really different being in Germany, using it on a regular basis and in conversation. I definitely learned the local language, instead of just regular grammatical things,” said Madison Pettaway ’17.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the day trips we took as a class; however, the time we spent on our own, whether for ten minutes or for the night, was the most valuable to me. It was special to use what we have been learning for the past two years and finally get a chance to use it with no dictionary or teacher to fall back on,” said Payton Jancsy ‘16 in an email to The Phillipian.

Over the course of the week, the group visited numerous cultural landmarks, including the DDR Museum, Humboldt Forum, and the Topography of Terror Documentation Center. According to Pettaway, however, the highlight of the trip was visiting the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The somber atmosphere of the monument provided context and perspective about the Holocaust that history books could not replicate.

“Just going there was so heartbreaking. Actually seeing the stelae which represented the ashes of the burned Jewish people, and going into the museum…There were videos streaming, but no one talked. It was amazing to see everyone caught up in it, because in most memorials, you don’t really see that. It was really beautiful to see,” said Pettaway.


Twelve students on the Brazil PLACES program visited a variety of places in Brazil, including the capital Rio de Janeiro and the Amazon rainforest, and explored the themes of sustainability, arts and indigenous culture. To examine sustainable development in Brazil, they visited a local coffee farm and a rubber tapping factory in Amazon, to name a few locations.

“There is this rubber factory that uses the native rubber and latex, to put power, money and resources back into the community. It was really interesting because they have a whole sustainable project there.” continued Kika Weirich-Freiberg ’16.

Students also had the chance to explore the rainforest.

“I met Neilson Mendez- a guy who I never thought I would find there. He lived in the Amazon forest for his whole life, and he knew basically everything about the rainforest. We learned from Mendez to take what we need, and not what we want and I thought that was really interesting,” said Eliot Zaeder ’17 .

Andover students also worked with students from the SESC high school, a private boarding school in Rio de Janeiro. Each year, eight SESC high school students on the Brazil PLACES program come and visit the Andover campus, and Andover students on the program visit and live on the SESC campus during the summer.
Zaeder said that he still keeps in touch with the SESC student that he hosted at Andover.

“His name is Guilherme, and we have become really close friends. We talk all the time over facebook, snapchat…etc. basically all the social media that you can think of—I think it’s really interesting how a couple days can really make a lasting friendship,” he said.