Beyond the Bubble: Deerfield CSGC Travel Programs

Over spring break, 67 Deerfield students participated in five trips through the Center for Service and Global Citizenship (CSGC) around the world. The different trips that students could choose from and apply to were The Bahamas, Jordan, Tanzania, Panama, and central Europe.

Deerfield has been offering CSGC service trips for decades; however, they vastly expanded the program starting 11 years ago. Now, about a third of the student body applies for at least one CSGC trip each year. This year was the largest in Deerfield history, and in

any prep school.

The process of designing a CSGC trip usually takes several years. Director of Educational Initiatives David Miller explained, “The process starts with a proposal from a faculty member.” If approved, the CSGC office will partner with an organization in that country to help them plan and organize the trip. Many times, a Deerfield faculty will go visit the country to get a first-hand feel of what it is like to navigate and move around the area.

Mr. Miller stated the reason that faculty play a large role in designing and executing these trips is because the CSGC believes every trip they do “should be uniquely Deerfield and should be designed for students by faculty with Deerfield’s core curriculum and values in mind.” While planning each trip, Mr. Miller stated that the CSGC spends “a lot of time thinking about safety and risk” when traveling within each country.

Once the trips are announced, students can apply for the various trips and rank their order of preference. Mr. Miller stated that “it is a pretty complex admission process,” with several factors determining which trip a student will be selected for such as seniority, language proficiency for trips with a concentration on language, and if they have traveled with Deerfield before. If a student has attended multiple CSGC trips, they may not be selected in order to give other students a chance as Mr. Miller explained the CSGC tries “to have as many students have experiences as possible.” However, over 90% of students who applied for a CSGC trip this year were accepted and over 80% of applicants were admitted into their top choice trip.

For those who need financial aid to attend a trip, the CSGC provides need-based assistance to make sure that money is never a barrier to education. Mr. Miller stated that the CSGC “did not have to turn away any students for financial reasons” and that financial assistance is “a real priority” for them.

From March 4 to March 15, a group of 17 students led by faculty advisors Toby Emerson, Conrad Pitcher, and Kate Parker traveled to Tanzania to study sustainable development. They stayed at a nonprofit organization named Mainsprings, located in the small village of Kitongo, which houses the school Joseph and Mary. Throughout the trip, the students split into three groups and rotated through the tasks of playing with elementary-aged children, farming and planting the fields, cooking, and serving food to the participants.

Sarah Hanks ’25, who was part of the trip, said her favorite part of the trip was “meeting all of the girls at the residential home and seeing their passion for learning… young children walking to school would also hold my hand and start running with me.”

The students also traveled to a safari located in the Serengeti National Park over the weekend, where they saw exotic animals such as lions, giraffes, cheetahs, leopards, and elephants. The trip was an educational experience for the students to realize the privilege they get to live in. Hanks said, “Seeing the government school in Kitongo and the mass numbers of

children shoved into each classroom showed just how lucky we are to attend a school with such a low student-to-teacher ratio.”

The CSGC also offered a trip to Germany, the Czech Republic, and Poland from March 4 to 13. Fourteen students led by faculty advisors Ryan Tyree and John Leistler studied the Holocaust and its impact on Eastern Europe. The students explored the idea of monuments and their role in public memory through walking tours of various museums, memorials, cathedrals, and especially the original Auschwitz II concentration camp.

Trip member Cormac McDowell ’26 expressed that his highlight of the experience was the day spent in Dresden, saying that it “was the most beautiful of all the cities we saw, and the museum was quite interesting as well. I first went up to the very top of the church, where I got an amazing view of the entire city, both the historic parts and the more modern parts.”

Avery Izzo ’24, who also went on this trip, said that the experience taught her “to be grateful for what I have and the importance of recognizing every person’s humanity.”

Another expedition the CSGC office offered this spring was to The Bahamas where, for a week, a group of 12 students and two faculty advisors learned about the environment and sustainability at the Island School.

Grant Ramsey ’24 said his favorite part of the trip was “getting to know others on the trip and finding new best friends.”

The travel opportunities were overall focused on what the students could gain from their experiences. Mr. Miller believes that the “whole point of the trips are not what students do on the trip but what they do with the learning when they get back.” He hopes that “students feel like they have been challenged to engage with diverse and divergent perspectives and things that make them uncomfortable and deeper connections and a stronger sense of belonging at Deerfield.”

For students who want to participate in CSGC trips in the future, many students who have participated in trips agree that applying is well worth it. McDowell said, “I went into the trip very unsure of what to expect, as I only knew two of the people well. Yet, over the nine days we had in Europe together, I formed many close bonds with people I never would have expected, and people I may never have even talked to otherwise. The time spent on our trip was definitely worth it.”

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