In its mission to “prepare young men for assuming leadership and responsibility in a competitive and changing world,” St. Mark’s continues to broaden opportunities for Marksmen to experience the wider world. As stated in the latest strategic plan, Goals for St. Mark’s IV,
the School is working to “identify and develop opportunities for learning beyond the St. Mark’s campus.” This past summer, 14 boys and three faculty chaperones traveled to the South American country of Peru for 10 days of exploration, education, and service. Spanish teacher Paige Myers planned and led the trip, along with Meagan Frazier and Scott Hunt, as part of the newly organized Upper School International Travel Program.
As they traveled through the country, the boys soaked up the culture, eating at local restaurants and shopping in the colorful marketplaces. The boys also took time out of their travels to give back to the local community. In the rural village of Soccma, the Marksmen helped dig a trench to lay a water pipe that will bring clean water to the village. After a full day of hard work, the boys shared a bonfire dinner with the locals, where the children delighted in teaching Marksmen their indigenous language, Quechua.
“The whole purpose of the trip was summed up in the phrase of learning to be ‘travelers, not tourists,’” said Jahaziel Lopez ’19. “We camped on land that belonged to a local family. There, we worked on a longstanding project to bring drinkable water to the people who live on the mountain. We worked two full days, digging a trench about the length of a football field. Those days were tiresome but provided some of the best memories of the trip working alongside newfound friends.”
Peru offers numerous natural splendors to visit and learn from. After finishing their service project, the group hiked up 12,000 feet to the remote ruins of Perolniyoc. The group’s tour guide took them to his hometown Ollantaytambo, where he led them on a hike to explore Incan ruins. The boys also climbed the 1,740 steps to Machu Picchu, the famous Incan citadel set high in the Andes Mountains.
“This trip taught the boys how to connect with the local culture and seek out experiences that show them the bigger picture, not just a curated tourist experience,” said St. Mark’s Spanish teacher Paige Myers. “At the end of the trip, many students mentioned that experiencing how the Peruvian people lived, seemingly very happy with so much less than what we all have, gave them a great perspective on their life back in the States.”
The new Upper School International Travel Program seeks to provide more opportunities for Marksmen to travel abroad and the explore the world. The Program is led by the newly appointed Director of Student Travel, Scott Hunt, who also serves as the Arnold E. Holtberg Master Teaching Chair and St. Mark’s Photography Instructor. Planning is already underway for trips in 2019, and parents and students will receive more information soon.
Read more about the School’s efforts to broaden the Marksman worldview in the latest issue of The Pride