Thailand: Buddhist Traditions and Contemporary Culture
Take an immersive journey through urban and rural landscapes of Thailand on this high school summer abroad program. Experience the cultural sights, markets, and ancient temples of major Thai cities; live with host families in rural villages; participate in community service projects organized by local organizations; and explore northern Thailand by foot and raft. Learn introductory Thai through formal and informal language instruction and through time with host family members and others.
The program begins in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, home to hundreds of ancient temples and surrounded by mountains. Visit the city’s famous sites and museums and explore bustling street markets and Buddhist temples as you get to know the other members of your group. As your Thai journey continues, you will live with a Kon Muang host family in a lowland northern Thai village in Chiang Mai province and then with a Lisu host family in a hill tribe village in Chiang Rai province. Join host family members and others in working on a service project, such as helping to build a natural water dam or assisting with reforestation work, depending on the needs of the village community. Other service opportunities could include teaching English to young children.
Experience the northern region’s tropical valleys and highlands as you participate in outdoor activities such as trekking, zip lining, rafting, and visiting an elephant park. Conclude your Thailand exploration in Bangkok—visiting sites of cultural and historical importance, such as the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha—and the seaside town of Hua Hin.
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Experience the natural beauty of Argentina through a month of cultural immersion, outdoor activities, and community service. Begin your high school summer abroad in Argentina’s capital, where you and your group will explore the city’s art galleries, theaters, and boulevards and start practicing your Spanish. Sail by catamaran to the city’s surrounding islands to learn about the region’s ecology and biosystems.
From Buenos Aires, travel to colonial Salta La Linda, capital of the Salta province, on Argentina’s northern frontier, where you'll spend two weeks sharing day-to-day life with an Argentine host family. During this period, work on a community service project such as volunteering at a center for children with developmental disabilities or helping to renovate an orphanage or kindergarten. Study Spanish in language classes with other members of your group and learn about local gaucho culture. Go hiking or white-water rafting. Continue on to the small town of Chicoana, just south of the city of Salta, where you'll assist on service learning activities such as painting or landscaping.
Then, embark on a week of outdoor exploration with your group and leaders. Ride horseback, stay on a large ranch, and enjoy traditional barbeque. Travel through the mountains to the city of Cafayate, stopping at famous rock formations. In Cafayate, take a bike tour of the city and then ride to the sand dunes. Return to Buenos Aires for a final day of exploration and reflection.
Orientation: Buenos Aires, 4 days
Homestay: Salta,* 14 days
Other Accommodations: Hotels, campsite, hostels
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Spend a summer abroad experiencing different marine environments and regional cultures as you travel from the coastal city of La Paz — situated between desert mountains and the Gulf of California — to the Yucatán Peninsula on this program for high school students. Meet with marine biologists, researchers, and guides in La Paz. Learn about the history of human and animal habitation in the peninsula. Snorkel among coral reefs, observing sea lions in their natural habitats, on the beautiful island of Espíritu Santo, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. During this period, you live with a Mexican family, which opens up amazing windows into Mexican culture. Take advantage of continuous opportunities for Spanish language study while experiencing the region’s incredible natural environments and regional culture with host family members.
As the program moves to the Yucatán in southeastern Mexico — from desert to jungle — you experience a completely different natural environment. Learn about pearl farming on the island of Cozumel and witness ongoing ecosystem restoration efforts through the installation of artificial reefs. Take a late-night beach walk to watch giant sea turtles laying eggs on the sand. Travel to Akumal beach for a guided snorkel excursion with sea turtles and manta rays. Witness the region’s strong Maya cultural influence, and visit the Maya archaeological ruins at Coba or Tulum.
The program begins and ends in Mexico City, giving you time to deepen your knowledge of Mexico’s culture, history, and food from the vantage point of the country’s expansive capital city. Visit the Zócalo, Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de María, or Frida Kahlo Museum, or take a walking tour of the old city.
Orientation: Mexico City, 3–4 days
Homestay: La Paz, 11–12 days
Other Accommodations: Hotels, eco-lodge, ranch