At The Experiment, we strongly believe that the best way for students to get the most out of their summer experience is to begin each program with a thoughtful, intensive, multi-day orientation.
On the day of departure, students are met in the airport by their trained, adult group leaders. The leaders immediately start engaging the group in conversations and ice-breaker activities and typically share important logistical information. Right away, students start getting to know each another — a diverse group of high school students from many different backgrounds — and the two leaders. The group might also begin talking about important cross-cultural considerations and what it means to be a visitor and guest in another country.
Immediately upon arrival, students are involved in direct exploration of the host country and culture through fun, experiential activities. These activities involve engaging with individuals who live there and navigating select neighborhoods in small groups. With support and guidance from the leaders, students get out and interact; they start experiencing the sights, sounds, and tastes of the country, as well as increasing their confidence and cultural knowledge, from day one.
The Experiment’s orientation activities are about equipping students with new skills and knowledge — including survival language skills and in-country cultural norms — designed to build students’ confidence in their ability to navigate a new cultural and geographic surrounding. These first few days are about helping to set the tone and expectations for the experience overall and are designed so students think about how they can get the most out of their summer.
During orientation, group leaders might also encourage students to consider their own backgrounds and any assumptions, ideas, and values they may be bringing with them as they engage with their host communities and the other members of the group.
In each country, The Experiment works closely with an international partner — often an educational nonprofit organization. Many of the Experiment’s partnerships are decades-old.
These local partners contribute enormously to the dynamic, educational, and immersive nature of every program, and they play an essential role in maximizing the health, safety, and security of all groups. Group leaders work closely with the local office throughout the program period.
Our local partners are actively involved in the program orientation. On many programs, representatives from The Experiment’s international partner office will work with the group leaders and group throughout orientation.
The group orientation typically lasts between three and four days and usually takes place in the country’s capital city or another major city. On most programs, the accommodations are a centrally located hostel or small, locally owned hotel.
The Experiment begins working with students and parents on how to get the most out of their summer experience abroad far in advance of the program departure and orientation. Students are sent information about the host country and other important pre-departure material in the weeks before the program commences. Experiment staff strongly encourage all students to learn as much as possible about the country and culture prior to departure.