Community / The Nation and the World

Dana Hall students explore semester programs

At Dana Hall, there are three major semester / school year abroad programs for Juniors : the School for Ethics and Global Leadership (SEGL) , the High Mountain Institute (HMI), and School Year Abroad (SYA). Each of these programs offer a unique educational experience, with their own individual focuses and goals. 

SEGL has three locations : London, England; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Washington, DC.  SEGL’s mission is to “provide[s] students with a unique curriculum emphasizing ethical thinking skills, leadership development, and international affairs.” The three locations all have the same “rigorous college preparatory course schedule” according to the SEGL website, but each have their own individual classes geared towards the locations. SEGL students gain a unique understanding of the city they choose to study in, with opportunities individualized to their surroundings. The website says students at the London campus have the opportunity to “interview ‘Square Mile’ financiers about post-Brexit fiscal policy, or connecting your chemistry studies to art preservation at the British Museum, or discussing the intersection of business, law, and ethics at a performance of The Merchant of Venice at Shakespeare’s Globe.” All three locations focus on those same key values, but individualize the experience to the location. 

Cait Klosek ‘24 just came home from a semester at SEGL’s Johannesburg location. If you choose to attend that specific location of SEGL, you are a part of the African Leadership Academy as well as the regular program. Cait said that having that duality enhanced the program even more, and that “even when I wasn’t actively in class or doing a study, just living on that campus you’re learning something new all the time. My roommate was from Nairobi, Kenya, and just living with that person, talking every night, sharing stories and music, all that stuff makes you learn something new every day.” 

The High Mountain Institute is a semester program taking place in Colorado. It balances a high-level education with learning extensively about the natural world. Their website describes the program as inviting “ambitious, motivated students [to] attend the High Mountain Institute to connect with nature, develop as leaders and critical thinkers, and discover learning at its best.” At HMI, students also take part in expeditions like backpacking through the Rocky Mountains, or backcountry skiing, depending on the semester they choose to attend. These outdoor experiences are intended to provide students with the opportunity to really understand the natural world that they’re learning about. 

Emma Houston ‘24 spent the fall semester at HMI. The fall semester entails a sixteen day backpacking trip through the Rocky Mountains, a ten day expedition through the canyons of Utah, and another ten day trip back through the canyons. Emma said while she had participated in other backpacking trips, the HMI experience was like no other, “in the middle of the trail and pulling out your math homework to do was different from anything else I’d ever done.” 

SYA offers a semester or a full school year abroad at one of three campuses : Rennes, France; Viberbo, Italy; and Zaragoza, Spain. At SYA, students have the opportunity to “integrate real-world experiences into day-to-day school life.” According to their website, their mission is to promote “intercultural understanding and appreciation through the immersive adventure of fully engaging with different languages and peoples.” While staying with host families, SYA students take on rigorous academics and immersive cultural experiences. 

Amy Kumpel, Dana Hall’s Head of the Upper School, is the “point person” when it comes to connecting these programs with students. She says Dana Hall is very intentional about the programs it chooses to work with, and that the ones it does work with are the ones that “align most closely with the mission and values of Dana Hall, as well as with our curriculum.” 

Along with values, a very big part of the semester/school year abroad programs is making sure the academics line up well with Dana Hall’s. Ms. Kumpel says “It can be really challenging for a student to go away to a program that has such a vastly different curriculum and then have to come back in January and line up with ours. Dana Hall is very intentional about which ones make the most sense for us.”

Ms. Kumpel says “Broadly, I think it just opens up kids’ worlds’, to see what’s beyond Dana Hall, and maybe what’s beyond their own experience.”

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