Google+

WeXplore

It doesn’t matter where you are as long as you explore, ask questions, be curious, be adventurous — be a bit like Bilbo.

-Sydney, TGS Student

weXplore is what sets TGS apart from every other school. Rather than after school diversions or “field trips” tangential to the academic curriculum, weXplore places the unique people, sights, and events located in and around our host countries at the core of the students’ learning experience.

Lessons begun in the classroom come alive as students reflect, analyze, question, compare, and articulate their responses to a challenging series of workshops, cultural exchanges, museum tours, and nature expeditions. These trips, planned in coordination with the TGS faculty, cover every subject area in the curriculum, and are designed according to the latest pedagogical research about effective experiential learning. weXplore adventures also build teamwork and citizenship, as students depend on one another to solve problems and overcome obstacles.

You can follow our adventures on the TGS blog, where our students and teachers communicate their explorations with people all around the world.

weXplore Highlights



Term 12: Hiroshima, Japan

During our term in Japan we spent five days exploring the old capital of Kyoto — a city that has been left largely unscathed by the ravages of war. While here we had the opportunity to explore Nijo Castle, one of seventeen historic monuments in Kyoto that have been certified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We also set sail on the Hozugawa River for a two hour scenery-laden boat ride. The ride concluded in the Arashiyama area, where we were able to visit the holy Tenryuji Temple and Sagano Bamboo Forest. Our time in Kyoto also included a chance to improve our cooking skills with the Women’s Association of Kyoto, who instructed us on the proper way to roll sushi. A trip to Gion Corner provided an insightful look into seven traditional performing arts, including Kyogen comedy, Kyomai dance, and Gagaku imperial court music. The highlight of the trip for some of our students was an hour spent taking afternoon tea with a maiko at Ochaya Tomikku, a traditional tea house in the Gion Geisha district. After we finished sipping tea, we visited the awe-inspiring Sanjūsangen-dō, a beautiful Buddhist temple containing 1,000 armed statues of Kannon. Finally, our visit to Kyoto culminated with a Samurai Kembu exhibition at the Otsu Traditional Performing Arts Center, where nimble swordsman demonstrated the samurai spirit with their blades.

View the complete Japan photo gallery

Activities

  • Hiroshima Peace Park
  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
  • Hiroshima Castle
  • Itsukushima
  • The gardens at the Imperial Palace in Kyoto
  • Sagano Bamboo Forest
  • Tenryuji Temple
  • Fushimi Inari Shrine
  • Sanjūsangen-dō
  • Samurai Kembu exhibition at the Otsu Traditional Performing Arts Center
  • Tea with a maiko in Kyoto’s geisha district
  • Traditional cloth dyeing at Roketsuzome Yamamoto
  • Walked the pilgrimage routes of the Kumano Kodo
  • Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Tsukiji Fish Market
  • Yokohama’s Chinatown
  • Sumo wrestling in Tokyo
  • Student documentary filmmaking in Rikuzentakata
  • Weekend trips to Kobe, Osaka, Naoshima, and Nagasaki
  • Visit to the NHK television studios
  • Igloo building contest at Osorakan Park
  • Model United Nations in South Korea

Term 10: Hyderabad, India

During our term in India, we left our host school in Hyderabad for eight lively days in the country’s northern and central regions. While in Amritsar, we witnessed the bravado and nationalism that accompanies the flag-lowering ceremony at the India-Pakistan border. Following a cramped and sweaty train ride, we descended upon Delhi, where we walked among the crumbling walls of the Old City and learned about its dying professions. A trip to Bhopal included a visit to the Sambhavna Clinic, where we came face-to-face with the grim realities stemming from the 1984 Dow Chemical disaster. Our time in the north also included a visit to the fortified city of Agra, where we marveled at the stunning architecture of the Taj Mahal.

View the complete India photo gallery

Activities

Term 8: Boston, United States

During our term in The United States, we had the opportunity to spend five days in America’s capital city, Washington, D.C. While here, we brushed up on five centuries worth of news and journalism history at the massive Newseum. Our trip also included a visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, where we commiserated with Holocaust survivor Jacqueline Birn over the egregious atrocities committed by the Germans during World War II. A visit to the circular Hirshorn Museum to view Ai Weiwei’s “According to What?” exhibit gave us the opportunity to deepen our understanding of his political motives, which he skillfully expresses through his profound works of art. We crossed over the Potomac River for a visit to Virginia’s Arlington Cemetery. Here, in the form of stark white tombstones, we were provided a powerful reminder of those who have given their lives in the name of American freedom. Finally, we paid tribute to America’s founding fathers through visits to The Thomas Jefferson Memorial, The Lincoln Memorial and The Washington Monument.

View the complete USA photo gallery

Activities


Intersession: Bhutan

During our term in Bhutan, we learned about the country’s innovative approach to planning the next stages of global development using the four pillars of Gross National Happiness as organizing principles. We visited massive fortress monasteries known as dzongs, including the Trashichodzong (Thimphu Dzong), where we studied its design with noted architect Karma Gelay. We explored Bhutan’s holy Buddhist temples known as lhakhangs, where we viewed sacred religious paintings that date back over 500 years. At Kurjey Lhakhang, we learned about Guru Rinpochhe, the founder of Tantric Buddhism who is regarded by many Bhutanese as the second Buddha himself. In Punakha, we took to river rafts to explore the spectacular landscapes that line the banks of the Puna Tsang Chhu (Punakha River). Here, we also searched for the extremely rare White-bellied Heron, of which there are less than 200 remaining. While on our way to visit the Taktsang Palphug (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, we flew over enormous Himalayan glaciers and met with esteemed glaciologist Karma Toeb. During a lecture, he warned of the consequences that global warming will inflict on the slowly diminishing bodies of ice. Finally, in Chuka we visited the Chukka Hydroelectric Project, where Druk Green’s Head of Operations Lam Dorji lectured us about the importance of environmental conservation, and laid out the steps that have been taken by the colossal dam project to ensure a minimal impact on its surrounding communities.

View the complete Bhutan photo gallery

Activities

  • Takin Park and Zoo
  • Wandering the Thimphu Farmers’ Market
  • Lecture and Trashichodzong tour with architect Karma Gelay
  • Voluntary Artists Studio Thimphu (VAST)
  • Gangtey Monastery
  • Spotting the Black-necked Crane while hiking the Phobjikha Valley
  • A day at the Ugen Wangchuk Institute of Conservation & Environment
  • Tamshing Lhakkang temple
  • Traditional rural home in Bhuthang
  • Kurjey Lhakkhang temple complex
  • Tower of Trongsa and the Museum of Cultural Heritage
  • Interview with Trongsa governor Dshewang Rinzin at the Trongsa Dzong
  • River rafting in the Punakha Valley
  • Spotting one of the world’s rarest birds, the White-bellied Heron
  • Lecture on climate change with Glaciologist Karma Toeb
  • Chukkha Hydropower Project with speaker Lam Dorji
  • Takstang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest)

Term 7: Buenos Aires, Argentina

During our term in Argentina, we hopped on a plane and headed northeast to the Mesopotamian province of Misiones, Argentina. While here, science teacher Dan Garvey held a class covering water cycles and biodiversity at the majestic Iguazú Falls National Park, home to a series of over 275 raging waterfalls that are heralded as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. While in Misiones, we also paid a visit to the Indian reservation of Fortín M’bororé, where members of the indigenous Guarani population discussed with students the impact that globalization, tourism and the complications of the modern world are having on their way of life.

View the complete Argentina photo gallery

Activities

  • Service learning in Magadalena
  • Rugby championship match between the Argentina Los Pumas and the New Zealand All Blacks
  • Latin American Art Museum of Latin America (MALBA)
  • Xul Solar Museum
  • Volunteering with the Banco Alimento Food Bank
  • El Monumental and La Boca soccer stadiums
  • Colonia Del Sacramento in Uruguay
  • ESMA Human Rights Museum and Parque de la Memoria
  • Casa Rosada presidential palace
  • Iguazú Falls National Park
  • Conservation issues with Argentina’s indigenous Guarani people
  • Ranch trip to Estancia La Candeleria
  • Recoleta Cemetery
  • Tango dancing at the Caminito Amigo tango hall

  • Term 6: Berlin, Germany

    During our term in Germany, we spent a week traversing across Europe for the first ever TGS Amazing Race: a five-day event consisting of a series of team-based challenges. While surrounded by Prague’s many golden spires, we scavenged for locks on the John Lennon Wall and belted out our best renditions of The Beatles “Let it be.” Here, we also undertook the challenge of locating Franz Kafka’s birthplace. After moving on to Budapest, we took a visit to Heroes’ Square and rode a funicular (cable car) up Castle Hill. In our dankest challenge, we headed underground to explore the complex system of labyrinths located beneath Buda Castle. Next, we boarded trains and made our way to Austria. While enraptured by the beautiful pathways, bridges and winding roads of Salzburg, we engaged in a series of Mozart-themed challenges. We also visited the Mirabell Palace Gardens, made famous by the film “The Sound of Music,” where students posed for pictures among the myriad of brightly-colored flowers. The end of the race took place at Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace, a former imperial summer home containing an astounding 1,441 rooms.

    View the complete Germany photo gallery

    Activities


    Term 5: Chiang Mai, Thailand

    During our term in Thailand, we headed three hours north to the border of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos – an area better known by its nickname “The Golden Triangle.” Here, we visited Mae Salong, where we received an informative lecture by Peter Holmshaw on the importance of tea production to the region. Providing a stark contrast was our visit to the Opium Museum, where we learned the history of the poppy-based drug that has marred the region and caused rampant addiction throughout the world. Next, we motored up the muddy waters of the Mekong River for a brief look at neighboring Myanmar before docking at the island of Donsao in Laos. Back in Thailand, we stopped at Think Elephants International, where our students stood nose-to-trunk with 18 of these majestic beasts. Students were also treated to a discussion with the Head of Elephant Research, Joshua Plotnik, Ph.D and the Director of Elephants, John Roberts. The ride back to Chiang Mai concluded with a tour of Wat Rong Khun, also known as the “White Temple” due to the snow-white concrete used to construct it.

    View the complete Thailand photo gallery

    Activities


    Term 4: Cuenca, Ecuador

    During our term in Ecuador, we spent two incredible weeks in the Galapagos Islands. Here, We made a full trip around the circle of life as we spotted finches and iguanas from our kayaks, snorkeled with sting rays and hammerhead sharks, practiced our Spanish at an Ecuadorean Quinceañera ceremony, and even watched a sea lion give birth. We also studied the ecological threats to the islands at a tortoise research facility, learned about the chemistry of taking out the trash at a composting and recycling center, read Darwin’s notebooks at the Charles Darwin Research Center, and used our mathematical skills to measure trends in sea algae growth.

    View the complete Ecuador photo gallery

    Activities

    • Tiputini Biodiversity Station in the Amazon Rainforest
    • Climate change with Natalia Greene of The Pachamama Alliance (speaker)
    • History of the Galapagos lectures with professors from the University of San Francisco de Quito
    • Ecuadorian history and environmental politics with Jorge Barba (speaker)
    • Biodiversity field course with professor Vinueza of USFQ
    • Exploration of the Galapagos Islands
    • Charles Darwin Research Center on Santa Cruz Island
    • Hiking Sierra Negra Volcano
    • Oktoberfest at Colegio Aleman Stiehle Cuenca
    • Ecuadorian cooking class
    • Incapirca ruins
    • Fiestas de Cuenca
    • World Wildlife Fund International president Yolanda Kakabadse
    • Ecuadorian shamanism with a highland practitioner
    • Conversation with Queen of Water co-author María Virginia Farinango
    • Hiking El Cajas National Park
    • Volunteering in the rural Chimborazo province

    Term 3: Beijing, China

    During our term in China, we toured the Great Wall of China with scholarly expert and National Geographic Channel host William Lindsay. On what was surely the most exciting (and aerobic) lessons we’ve ever had in our global studies course, we explored how the wall was constructed, the way it factored into Qin dynasty military strategy, the archaeological sites along its perimeter, and the conservation issues facing the “wild” sections of the wall that have been reclaimed by the surrounding forest.

    View the complete China photo gallery

    Activities


    Term 2: Sydney, Australia

    During our term in Australia, we undertook a multi-stage adventure that began with a rainforest hike through an ancient volcano crater. Led by a zoologist and nature photographer, we learned how to identify native bird and reptile species. Trekking further into the jungle, we stayed overnight with an indigenous highland tribe known as the Yidinji. They taught us their traditional methods for preparing food and herbal medicines, telling stories and creating rock art, playing didgeridoo, and of course throwing boomerangs. We even went hunting for fish, mud crabs and mussels in a mangrove swamp. The grand finale was a scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef, where we spoke with a marine biologist about evolution and the challenges posed by global climate change.

    View the complete Australia photo gallery

    Activities


    Term 1: Stockholm, Sweden

    During our term in Sweden, we traveled deep into the Scandinavian Mountains to Åre, just 220 miles south of the Arctic Circle. We learned about the folkways and survival techniques of the indigenous Sami culture and went snowshoeing and dog sledding in a beautiful winter wonderland. This meditative trip to the top of the world was also a great opportunity for literary reflections (good thing there are so many words that rhyme with “cold!”).

    View the complete Sweden photo gallery

    Activities

    • Mixing lyrics and beats in recording studio (Creative Arts)
    • Visit to SVT News Station
    • Swedish National Museum
    • Guided tour of Swedish Parliament
    • Snowshoeing and dog sledding in Åre
    • Viking Museum
    • Sausage making
    • Swedish culture talk with Karin Sharma and Sara Wallén
    • Fotografiska Museum
    • Historiska Museum
    • Fencing
    • National Museum of Art and Design