Study Abroad tours are an exciting part of students’ education at SBHS. This program is designed to expose them to world cultures beyond the shores of America and North Carolina.
Since 1999, SBHS students have traveled to Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, every state in Southern Mexico (from Mexico City to Cancun), India, China, Alaska, Australia, Cuba and South Africa.
Students qualify by submitting a research paper on the designated country that year. They write a personal statement on what traveling abroad will mean to them, and participate in a face-to-face interview with the school’s leadership team. The top ten papers, read anonymously by outside educators, are selected for travel. All expenses, except the passport, are paid by the school. The experience is life changing.
While only 10 middle school students and a few adults get to travel every 2 years, our responsibility is to share the lessons we learned when we return. Each student publishes booklets depicting their travels. These booklets remain in our library collection for all students to learn and enjoy.
One memorable trip was our Australia Adventure in 2015. There, we visited Japukai Cultural Park to learn about the history, culture, art, and music of the Aborigines, the native people of Australia who lived on the land in harmony with nature 40-50,000 years before the settlers from England first landed there in 1733. The aborigine people migrated from Africa thousands of years ago and were the first inhabitants of the region.
They were hunter gatherers, passed on their traditions and culture in storytelling, music, and art from generation to generation, and were a rather peaceful, spiritual people who believed their responsibility was to preserve and protect the earth. Like the stories of native Americans, native Alaskans and similar indigenous peoples, the European settlers who invaded their land believed them to be primitive and uncivilized, took possession of their land, and stole their children in an effort to replace the aborigine culture with modern western culture and traditions.
Today, only 20 of the original 250 aboriginal tribes live in Australia. Most people of aborigine descent live in urban areas of Australia. Their traditions, music, and art are preserved by only a few communities in Australia. We were able to learn and see some of it at Japukai.