Almost anyone at Durham Academy can tell you its mission statement: to give students the opportunities and resources to live a “moral, happy, and productive life.” Some of these opportunities include going abroad.
Aside from the class trips, which are expected to see massive changes in the coming years, DA also offers trips to Kenya, France, and hopefully more in the future. DA’s Global Programs Coordinator, Allison Mattox, works alongside other teachers to facilitate and oversee trips around the world.
Both Mr. Phu and Ms. Mattox coordinate the trips to Kenya and DA’s relationship with WISER, the Women’s Institute for Secondary Education and Research. According to Mattox, the goal of trips like these are “cultural immersion...[and] expanding [students’] horizons, but also to include some service component,” though not in the traditional sense. Mattox explained: “It’s not like the students are going to be painting walls
“It’s more like we’re building connections from the DA students and the students over there at WISER.” and digging latrines... It’s more like we’re building connections from the DA students and the students over there at WISER.”
Students tour nature preserves, learn about the culture, and make friendships that span across entire oceans. Not only does DA offer the trip to Kenya, but students can also go to France and Spain to stay with host families while immersing themselves in the language and culture of the country. Each trip goes every other year; this year, the trip will be to France, while next year’s will be to Spain. Additionally, thanks to the efforts of DA Chinese teacher Ms. Wang and many others, China may be on the list of destinations that students can choose from in the future. “This trip is open to all students,” reported Mattox, “but there will be a requirement to go participate with Ms. Wang in a few workshop sessions during lunch or tutorial.” Language immersion trips usually require one year of that language (with the exception of the China trip), while the expedition to Kenya includes an application process headed by Mr. Phu.
Furthermore, earlier in the school year, DA students presented a slideshow to the school about the their trip to Ecuador with the organization World Challenge, and this trip will happen again in Summer 2019, this time journeying to India. Beginning her first year as the Global Programs Coordinator, Alison Mattox has high aspirations for the direction she wants to take these trips, stating, “I want to expand them, I want us to have more options for students, and I hope that more students will come to feel that it’s within their realm of possibility to travel in a learning capacity."