From the sandy beaches of Lagos, to the snowy peaks of Mount Fuji, Alison O’Donnell’s Upper Prep Geography and Culture classes have traveled to the furthest corners of the globe, all without leaving the comfort of their classroom. On Monday, January 7, the budding global citizens culminated their latest travel project: creating full trip itineraries for clients looking to embark on their next vacation.
“We’ve been working on this project for about a month,” O’Donnell said. “The premise was to interview an adult in the community and plan a trip for them, paying close attention to budget, and working on researching flights, lodging, meals, and activities.”
No detail was overlooked as each group of students carefully prepped five to six-page travel guides that they presented to their clients on Monday and Tuesday. Flights times, sightseeing hotspots, transportation, hotel accommodations, and even currency exchange rates were all included. “In doing this project, it’s been great to have lessons on different regions and subject matter,” O’Donnell explained. “For example, we’ll discuss the European Union or the euro, so the students can really understand what they’re researching.”
Prior to the presentations, the groups of three chatted about any last minute details they wanted to add to their projects. “When you hand your client their itinerary, they’re going to want to look it over for a little bit,” O’Donnell explained at the beginning of class. “Give them a moment to look over all of the hard work you’ve done, and think as a group, “how are we going to present this so they know and understand all of the key points?””
Clustered around a table at the front of the classroom, Ysabel Albert ‘25, Claire Mastella '25, and Nico Bromley ’25 took turns explaining their itinerary to Associate Director of Institutional Advancement & Director of Alumni and Parent Relations Elizabeth Bellingrath.
“We planned a trip for you to visit London and Italy,” Albert said. “You will be there from October 16 through October 24.”
“Which means you’ll be there for your husband’s birthday on the 16th!” Mastella added, smiling.
The group walked Bellingrath through her eight-day adventure, one that would take her to Trafalgar Square to visit Nelson’s Column, the Tower of London, the Roman Colosseum, and even the ruins of Pompeii. The students also paid special attention to requests Bellingrath had made during her initial interview, specifically about wanting to visit a needlepoint shop and appease her husband’s love for fishing. “On October 20 you will drive from your hotel to a nearby lake where you can fish for two hours and still have time to go to St. Peter’s Basilica,” Bromley said. He furthered his explanation with price points for bait, fishing rods, and transportation to and from the lake. “Does this also guarantee my husband will catch something?” Bellingrath asked, laughing.
Middle School English Department Chair Kyle Chapman, and Creative Arts Department Chair Katherine Nicholson were also given thorough guides. Their vacation destinations? Portugal and London, respectively. “I was so impressed with the feedback I got from the staff,” O’Donnell said. “I put out to the KO community that we were looking for volunteers to be clients for this project, and we were able to have different people come in for each class.”
Before the clients headed out, they thanked their travel agents for their hard work and made a few suggestions for their final versions of their itineraries. The groups then returned to work, adding any finishing touches to their research.
This project teaches research skills, critical thinking, collaboration, and interpersonal skills so that the students are comfortable in speaking with and engaging with adults. But even more importantly, O’Donnell said, “The class as a whole teaches the students about global citizenship. Though all of their work, they are striving to answer the question, “how do you be a global citizen?””
Geography and Culture is an Upper Prep course that asks students to study the earth and the relationship of people with the earth. Students become familiar with the questions and tools of a geographer, learn about maps and globes, and explore what it means to be a global citizen in the twenty-first century. They express their findings through writing, maps, graphs, and oral presentations.