Since 2014, Andover has hosted the Learning in the World (LITW) program, an opportunity for students and faculty to learn and engage with different parts of the world. During Spring Break, Andover hosted its first LITW programs since the Summer of 2019. Three international students from Andover and two international students from Hotchkiss participated in the program. The trip allowed them to travel around the U.S. and explore sites of rich history.
“[The program,] ‘Destination USA!: An American Travel Experience,’ gave international students from both schools an opportunity to see the U.S. and explore the cultures and landscapes of three distinct regions of the country. As a collaborative project with another school, it was very much an experiment, but it seems to have been an invaluable experience for all involved,” wrote Mark Cutler, Instructor in Spanish, in an email to The Phillipian.
In this program, students visited places outside of New England, traveling from San Francisco to Florida and even Washington D.C. At each destination, they explored museums of various subjects, such as the history of Native Americans and other relics. María Duro Sánchez-Cid ’22, one of the students who attended the program, noted how they learned about cultures aside from those of modern America.
“The city we [stayed in] was an old Spanish colony, so it still had plenty of cultures. [It] was really enriching because usually, we [only] learn about the English colonization. [So when] we learned about the Spanish colonization, [it] was really interesting being [in that city]. I got to know really important cities in the U.S., and I think that I wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for the trip, so I’m really thankful for that,” said Sánchez-Cid.
Typically, each trip has around five to seven attendees, including both students and faculty. Due to the shortage of students in this year’s program, the coordinators reached out to other schools. They finally settled on Hotchkiss, where two international students joined the trip. One of the Andover students who went on the trip, Mathilda Knoblauch ’22, commented that going on a trip with unfamiliar people can be an initially awkward experience and explained the interactions they had.
“We shared so many things, but we also had so many [differences]. The two girls from Hotchkiss were from Ghana, so they were from a totally different place in the world. That was really fun, we got to get to know each other. [At first], it was hard to form a group dynamic, but in the end, we all really got to know each other really well, so that was fun. [If it wasn’t for this trip], I wouldn’t have been able to know them,” said Knoblauch.
Cutler highlighted some potential upcoming plans, including new trips and collaborations between departments at Andover, as well as online options to adapt to the pandemic.
“This Spring, we continue to offer virtual opportunities for students and adults to connect with their counterparts from around the world. Likewise, we are making curricular connections with academic departments in which students will have immersive learning experiences integrated into their classes. We will run three LITW programs over the summer and hope to scout a number of new international and domestic travel opportunities this summer. By Family Weekend 2022, we plan to revive many of the LITW programs currently on hiatus and offer a richer, more-robust-than-ever menu of opportunities for students to engage with the world,” said Cutler.
Given the program’s focus on traveling, especially to foreign countries, the pandemic took its toll. However, despite the challenges faced with restrictions and quarantines, the essence of the LITW program has prevailed.
“Many leaders of existing LITW programs did not propose running them in 2021-22. Our four domestic LITW programs, however, all respond just as well to the original charge of taking students beyond their bubble in pursuit of a rich, intercultural learning experience,” said Cutler.
Cutler added, “LITW came about with the intention of giving every Phillips Academy student an opportunity to learn beyond the Phillips Academy campus. Today, in 2022, it continues to provide experiences through which students and faculty build respectful relationships with communities around the world, wherever we are in the world, including abroad, in the U.S., locally, on campus, and virtually. In the day and age of racial, social, political, and ideological reckonings, this guidance from 1889 continues to resonate and reflects the values of Learning in the World.”