Study abroad enrichment trips for high school students

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Study abroad expeditions are some of the most exciting summer opportunities. For 46 years, Summer Discovery (www.summerdiscovery.com) and Discovery Internships (www.discoveryinternships.com) have offered pre-college enrichment and summer internship programs for high school students in the U.S., England, Italy, Spain and China. In a supervised setting that highlights cultural immersion, language erudition and college preparation, students gain a head start on their academic careers by obtaining college credit on study abroad and internship programs.

"Cross-cultural exposure to different cultures and peoples is essential in today's global society. Our programs take place in five different countries. Although the majority of our participants are American, we anticipate that students from well over 50 countries will attend our pre-college study abroad and internship experiences this summer," said Bob Musiker, owner and executive director of Summer Discovery and Discovery Internships. "Our students have a unique opportunity to learn from the host culture that surrounds them, but also from the multi-cultural make-up within the group."

At 16, Danielle Sharfman of Highland Park attended Discovery Internships in London during the summer of 2011. Sharfman had the remarkable opportunity of achieving actual work experience in her desired field while also exploring and learning about a new city.

"I want to be a doctor," Sharfman said. "Doing an internship at Charring Cross Hospital in London with Discovery Internships helped me learn about an international health care system and recognize the differences between medical practices in England and the U.S. It was fascinating to get the British doctors' perspective and to see how patients are cared for in a different country. I felt very lucky to have the opportunity as a high school student to study abroad and experience a field I hope to go into. The program helped me to be more confident and independent in all areas."

Crosby Shores, a 15-year-old from Chicago, also sings the praises of this insightful organization. Shores will be attending the Summer Discovery program in Shanghai, China.

"I want to go to China to explore a new and different culture," Shores said. "I take Chinese in school, but going to China is a great way to continue my studies and take them one step further to experience cultural immersion. I am excited to learn more."

Many parents might be more interested in a community service based travel experience for their child. Global Works (www.globalworkstravel.com), a 22-year-old organization, is a travel operation that focuses on projects that help other communities while providing an inspiring and invaluable experience for the enrolled participants. While absorbed in the community, kids will take away meaningful cultural exchanges that will most assuredly leave a lasting impression on their worldview.

"For a parent looking for an impactful summer experience for their high school student, a program like Global Works fosters growth, leadership, and personal responsibility through enriching community service projects, eye opening cultural exchanges and challenging adventures," said Fritz Moriarty, director of Global Works. "For many high schools students, it can be a defining experience as they prepare to transition to college. Our job is to intentionally and safely guide high school students through this cultural, often transformative, experience."

With programs in countries all of the world - Argentina, China, France, Thailand, Zambia - kids can be involved in a new-fangled and thrilling experience.

"It's hard to pick a single most meaningful portion of a trip so full of service and culture, but I believe that the thing that will stay with me the longest is my experience in the home stay. My home-stay mom was one of the most kindhearted people I have ever met. The mix of service work and family bonding made the home stay a unique and unforgettable experience," said Isabel Barry, a Global Works Argentina language immersion participant.

"I learned about China as a changing nation caught between extremes. Tradition and modernization, communism and capitalism, wealth and poor all tear at each other to create a truly unique nation that still struggles to define itself," said Rebecca Hoogwerf, a student who traveled to China with Global Works. "I have learned the value of the relationships I have. Being immersed in a culture different than mine is the most amazing and rewarding experience that anyone could have."