The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

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Poly Launches Global Studies and Language Scholars Programs

Three Poly seniors will travel abroad this May as part of the inaugural edition of the Global Studies Language Scholars program. The program, which was announced in an email to Grade 12 families from World Languages Department Chair Liz Mansfield and History teacher Tim Shea in December, would send four seniors at the highest level of their language on a fully funded two-three week trip to either France, Spain, Costa Rica, or Singapore. Students will live with a host family, take at least four hours of language classes daily, and complete their Senior Capstone project research on a topic in the target language. 

I do think this is going to be a very life changing experience for kids

— Liz Mansfield

“It’s not like language in a silo,” said Mansfield. “It’s language for life for the purpose of learning about other cultures.”

Currently, Poly runs curricular travel trips where students travel with faculty to Italy, Mexico, and France, among other places. In the past, Poly has had exchange programs, including an exchange program in Argentina that lasted from 1996 to 2013, which ended because it was too much extra work for a single teacher. (Poly didn’t use a travel company then; the teacher booked flights, organized documents, and communicated with the Argentines. As of this year, Shea is also Poly’s official travel coordinator, and gets compensated extra for that additional work. He works on budgeting and communication with travel companies.)

“I do think this is going to be a very life changing experience for kids.” – Liz Mansfield 

This time around, seniors will travel through Education First: Languages Abroad, a company with ‘language campuses’ all over the world with the infrastructure for the kind of experience Mansfield was looking for. “I wanted the ability to make everything easier [than in the past]. I called E.F. up and I told them what I wanted, and E.F. said, ‘no problem’.”

Next year, the programs will identify themselves more separate from one another. The Global Studies program, headed by Shea, will be a portfolio-based program. It aims to direct students’ studies in a specific direction throughout high school: if given the freedom by their teachers, a student’s projects, essays, and other assignments from grades 10-12 will be centered around a specific topic within the realm of global studies. Students will also select their courses based on their area of study.

Shea hopes that by the end of grade 9, students begin to think about their portfolio of work. Then, “by the end of the 10th grade year, students will submit a preliminary portfolio in which they say, ‘okay, I did this research paper in an elective history class in the spring of my 10th grade year. I’ve also done a service learning team, and in my Spanish class, I’ve been exploring this issue,’ said Shea. “Let’s say they’re thinking about immigration, and they’re very interested in that. We will advise them at the end of the 10th grade year to start to configure their projects in their classes around projects that have to do with immigration.”

As a senior, the student will present their capstone project based on the portfolio they’ve developed over three years.

The Language Scholars program is the next and last step in the Global Studies program. “These are the kids who not only are involved in the Global Studies program, but who want to perfect their language skills, who are the top language scholars,” said Mansfield. “[The Language Scholars program] is the pinnacle of our Global Studies program. Students are going to be the ones who go out in the world, do research, study language, and then come back and present,” said Shea.

“I don’t want it to be something where it’s an extra class where you have to have to take this class, or you have to take this class. I want it to be more like you’re interested in something … and you’re thinking about how you can learn more about that particular topic in class,” added Shea.

The programs come at a time where New York City is receiving an influx of migrants, two major wars are happening in the world, and international power dynamics are shifting. “It doesn’t feel right to keep ourselves limited in the city, in the United States,” said Shea. “If we’re looking at measures to mitigate climate change on the coastline here in New York, we could also be interested in solutions that are being created in other places around the world, in societies, in cultures, in histories of places around the world that may also be experiencing that same issue.”

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