Rouse High School students were whisked off on a whirlwind adventure over this past summer. The students (ages 15-17) traveled abroad on an educational tour during the summer. Students were chosen because of their character. Each of these students were hand-picked due to their honesty, integrity, concern for others, respect and pursuit of excellence.
The students paid for this educational, once in a lifetime trip out of their own pocket and many said they were sacrificing Christmas and birthday gifts and instead, asking for parents and family members to pay towards their trip.
Two trips were planned for June and July in 2018. In June 2018, a total of 35 students traveled to Costa Rica. On this trip, the group visited San Jose, Arenal Region, Monteverde, and the Central Pacific Coast.
From exploring a variety of natural wonders in the rainforest to participating in local folklore traditions, students gained an authentic understanding of Costa Rican culture and discovered its beauty.
Rouse junior Adriana said her group traveled through seven provinces in Costa Rica.
“I remember hiking in a rainforest on a volcano in Arenal where I saw and heard a wild Tucan,” she reminisced. “We also visited a beautiful beach with monkeys in the National Park of Manuel Antonio. I can’t believe I went ziplining from so high, the distant clouds looked almost eye-level. My favorite activities involve speaking to locals and being more involved in their culture. I had the opportunity to meet a family from an indigenous tribe called Maleku… I got to ask them what my name is in the Maleku language. They gave me a name and its meaning. I never understood how important learning Spanish was to me until that day.”
In July 2018, 45 students traveled to Italy. On this trip, students experienced an intimate connection with the culture. Some of the magical experiences included hiking the cliffs of the Cinque Terre region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, riding a gondola through the canals of Venice while their gondolier serenades them, examining notable artwork and architecture from hundreds of years ago, bicycling through the city streets of Lucca, and cruising along Lake Como surrounded by the beauty of the Swiss Alps.
Lilli Humphries, a senior at Rouse, visited Italy on her trip with the Traveling Raiders.
“My favorite things were being able to experience another culture and learning about the history,” she said. “I also made some really close friends on this trip that I will always cherish. We were able to explore the cities and the whole trip was just amazing and so much fun!”
Rouse history teacher Michael Hjort chaperoned both trips to Costa Rica and Italy.
“I loved watching our students become immersed in other cultures and make memories that will last for a lifetime,” he said.
The group will travel to Spain in July 2019. Selected students will engage in a customized tour to discover more about Spanish culture, visiting Granada, Andalusia, Madrid and Barcelona.
“Spain is a bit like the local tapas - it's most enjoyable when you try a little bit of everything,” said Rouse High School English teacher and Traveling Raiders sponsor Katieann Prescott. “By traveling abroad, the goal is for these students to step outside of their comfort zones and grow as individuals. Many of these students have never been out of their own small town or city. Stretching themselves out of their comfort zones will allow them to reach beyond what they thought they were capable of. While abroad, students must engage with locals by purchasing items, ordering food, asking for directions, etc. They are also thrust into a completely different culture that asks them to look beyond what they are familiar with and see 'different' as a positive thing. When the group travels, they view themselves as 'ambassadors' of the United States and make a concerted effort to show the world that America is filled with kind, friendly, tolerant and respectful citizens."
A trip has also been planned for 2020, which will be to France.