Sometimes a Personal Development Week (PDW) trip comes together organically and unexpectedly. Such an occasion arose in a modest coastal theatre in Lovran, Croatia. Students, who spent the past three days learning jazz from professional musicians, approached the finale of their inaugural performance. Our fourteen-year-old MC, unknowingly impersonating Dick Clark in American Bandstand, whimsically encouraged his 100 classmates to slow-dance to the next number. This tongue-in-cheek invitation evolved into the signature moment of our PDW experience. As the first notes of George Michael’s Never Gonna Dance Again (Careless Whisper) reverberated throughout the theatre, a charismatic teenage boy jumped to his feet, grabbed the hand of a nearby partner, wrapped his arm around their waist, and waltzed disjointedly in comical fashion to awestruck onlookers. What happened next underscores the invaluable nature of PDWs. Students from all over the room spontaneously found a classmate, or teacher, with whom to swing and sway. Others synchronised flashlights from phones for concert effect. Musicians wailed silky smooth tones to rock the house. Nobody judged, nobody ridiculed, nobody felt too cool to play. In that one carefree and inclusive moment, our Grade 9 PDW found its collective identity. Wham!
Grade 9 students take to the stage on PDW in Croatia
The purpose of the PDW varies to some extent as students move toward Grade 12. For all, however, these experiences provide opportunities for young people to grow, mature and push themselves outside of their comfort zones. All will face some level of adversity and discomfort. This year the weather proved a challenge for even the most resilient sensibilities. Students certainly learn technical skills from experts in their fields, but these trips also provide space for unexpected and more organic developments like the one described above. Friendships bud. Classmates learn to cooperate and compromise as they share close quarters, navigating challenges of spending all day and night together, reconciling differences when they emerge. Connections between students and staff deepen as well, as do the relationships among educators. A more familial school results, one characterised by mutual respect and trust.
Grade 12 students put service learning into action at a school in Tanzania
Thank you for your support of our PDW excursions. Without your trust, and the incredible efforts of our educators, none of these opportunities would prove possible. As you know, a holistic education encompasses a focus on the whole child. PDW trips prove invaluable as we help our young people grow into more confident and complete versions of themselves. Our next edition will feature pictures and details from each trip. Stay tuned!
Grade 11 students learn Albanian dancing in the playground of the school where they volunteered
Grade 10 students brave the elements on PDW in the Netherlands
- Global Connections
- Grade 10
- Grade 11
- Grade 12
- Grade 9
- High School
- Personal Development Weeks
- Unique Learning Experience