"We prepare students to engage in the world that is and to help bring about a world that ought to be."

Global Education Program Focuses on Immersive Indigenous Destinations

Last March a group of eight Upper School students, accompanied by Kirsti Peters and Peter traveled 2,500 miles to Vancouver Island off Canada’s Pacific Coast to examine the balancing concern for the environment with the realism of humanity’s need for natural resources. The week-long trip, which was organized by Friends’ Center for Peace, Equity and Justice, focused on the logging industry in and around the area and the tensions and challenges facing the Kwakwaka’wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth, and Coast Salish bands of First Nations. They engaged with professional foresters, urban farmers, and aquaculture experts as well as leaders and storytellers within these Indigenous communities. The spring break program was at once a calming departure from bustling New York and a unique opportunity to connect and bond with each other in a deeper way outside of school. 

On the first day, students enjoyed a beautiful ferry ride into Victoria in the morning and spent the day exploring the area. They split into groups for a scavenger hunt around the area and their guide shared the history of the First Nations people in Canada. The next day the group headed to Nanaimo where, with the help of Canadian guides, they dug further into the history of First Nations people. The following day students visited an artisan store that specializes in selling eclectic indigenously-created artwork made by First Nations people, as well as a museum featuring a collection of artifacts from all over the world. The visit inspired insightful and critical discussions on how indigenous work and artifacts are shared and displayed, and how individual collectors and institutions treat them.

Mid-week, Upper Schoolers enjoyed a guided tour through an 80-year old forest and logging area by a second-generation resident to Vancouver Island. He encouraged the group to explore their own ideas around what we think the purpose of the forest is, the usage of land and how people perceive its history. He also shared indigenous ways of thinking about our needs and purpose in life. Afterwards, they visited an urban farm where they planted vegetables, plants and created a home for bees. The trip concluded with kayaking, canoeing, and a memorable whale watching experience in addition to historical walking tours and thrifting.

Rabia ‘26 explains, “I thought that the trip to Vancouver was amazing because it was well planned, the perfect size, a good balance between seriousness and fun, and it had a variety of activities and good discussions based on those activities. I think that one of my favorite parts of the trip was when we walked along the trail of a logging site in silence. We spaced out so that we were together, but we were allowed to be in our own minds. I think that another aspect of the trip that I really enjoyed was the conversations that were sparked from these activities as well as the down time afterwards. Overall, I loved the trip so much and would love to go on another school trip again before I graduate!”

The Friends Global Education Program encourages Upper Schoolers to think of themselves as participants in and shapers of a complex and ever‐changing world. The Program strives to foster real world engagement through strategic partnerships and global immersion experiences based on values of mutual respect, cross-cultural understanding, equity, and justice while teaching the value of travel for the purpose of education, perspective taking and connection.

“I am deeply appreciative to Kirsti and Peter for encouraging our students to leave their home environment and comfort zones and supporting a meaningful experience for this curious and intrepid group of students. I am also deeply impressed by these students! They brought curiosity, flexibility, critical thinking and open minds to this journey that truly resulted in new discoveries and perspectives.” explains Kara Kutner, Director of the Center for Peace, Equity and Justice.
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Friends Seminary — the oldest continuously operated, coeducational school in NYC — serves college-bound day students in Kindergarten-Grade 12.