Westminster Global Programs are Unlikely to Happen This Year

Image+Credit%3A+Westminster+Website+%28Edited+by+Sisi+Wilson%29

Image Credit: Westminster Website (Edited by Sisi Wilson)

Sisi Wilson

In years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Westminster Middle and Upper School students had the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom through our global programs. These programs allow students to learn more about the world and immerse themselves in cultures different from their own. 

Westminster has many different trips available to students. “We have twelve programs total,” says Zeke Hoyos, Global Education Programs Coordinator, “Eight of them are travel; we call them outbound, and four of them are inbound, where students from China, India, Spain, and France come here to learn about how we live in the US.”

In past years, the majority of the trips happened over the summer. Some trips tend to be more popular than others, but popularity varies depending on the student’s interests and their grade level. Taylor Walstad, an eighth-grader who was accepted into the Canada trip in sixth grade, says, “I chose to apply because my older sister went on that trip and said it was really fun and had a great experience. I was excited to see glaciers and swim in hot springs.”

In the 2019-2020 school year, the Global Programs shut down due to our going into lockdown because of the Coronavirus. “March was the year students from France were coming to Atlanta. We canceled and figured all of that out as soon as Westminster went home,” says Carolina Mars, Middle School French teacher and leader of the France trip. 

This year, we haven’t heard anything about the Global Programs or if they will be happening or not. Many Middle Schoolers have been asking about the programs but have yet to receive a solid answer. Unfortunately, because of the uncertainty still going around, especially with the new Delta Variant, it is unlikely that the Global Programs will be happening this year. “There is so much unknown with the Delta Variant,” Mars Says, “We’re not in a place where we can start planning.”

Preparations for the trips need to take place well in advance and, as of right now, traveling is still unsafe. Furthermore, more than just the Delta Variant needs to be taken into consideration when planning trips. “We also have to take into account that the 6th graders aren’t yet vaccinated,” says Hoyos. “And just because we are lucky enough to have access to vaccines doesn’t mean everybody is. If we go into a community that has a lack of access to vaccines, there is a chance that we could be doing more harm than good.”

Although the chances of Global Programs happening this year are low, Westminster is still in touch with our partner schools. “We have been in touch with our partner schools all through the pandemic. In fact, COVID has strengthened our partnership with them,” says Hoyos. “We are supporting and learning from one another, and learning how to be empathetic.”

Westminster is hoping to continue giving this opportunity to students when it is safe to start traveling again.