Tattooing is the most misunderstood art form in Japan today. Looked down upon for centuries and rarely discussed in social circles, people with tattoos are outcasts in this country, banned from most public spaces such as beaches, bathhouses, and even gyms. Tattoos have an extensive history in Japan, and to truly understand the stigma behind them it is essential to be aware of their significance. The first records of tattoos...Read More
It’s hard to believe that it has been almost a full year since our students packed up their belongings to begin their school year in Argentina’s sprawling capital, Buenos Aires. The giddy anticipation that overtakes you before visiting a new location is one of the wonderful things about studying at TGS, and this year our students had quite a lot to look forward to. Under the supervision of our new Head of School, Alun Cooper, our 11th graders saw their workload increase as they began the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. They were up for the task, however, with each showing the traits necessary to succeed in the challenging curriculum. Our 9th and 10th graders got acquainted with their charismatic teachers, some returning and some new, like Global Studies teacher Nick Martino, who eagerly embraced the Argentine culture alongside them. Beyond Buenos Aires, all of our students had the opportunity to visit both Uruguay and the Misiones Province of Argentina. The trip to Misiones proved to be particularly memorable as our students learned firsthand about the plight of the indigenous Guarani tribe, who over the years have been unwillingly and unlawfully removed from their homelands as the area becomes more commercialized. The trip to Misiones also included a visit to the mammoth Iguazú Falls, which provided the perfect backdrop for science teacher Dan Garvey’s lesson on water cycles.
If you were to say one thing about Argentina and its culture, it’s that it overflows with passion. Passion for art. Passion for soccer. Passion for dance. Passion for so many incredible things. It was, all in all, the perfect place to kick off a new school year.
I’m sure that when some of our students told their friends where they were headed for this year’s intersession they were met with puzzled stares upon uttering the word “Bhutan.” While not the most well-known destination in the world, Bhutan is certainly one of the most charming and surreally beautiful. However, due to restrictions placed on the number of tourists allowed into the country each year, it is also one of the least visited. Our curriculum during our three week trip to the “Land of the Thunder Dragon” focused on the Bhutanese concept of “GNH,” or Gross National Happiness. This concept propels both the Bhutanese train of thought and way of life, with each governmental decision being carefully weighed to make sure that it has both the citizen’s and terrain’s best interests at heart. This once-in-a-lifetime intersession featured visits to Bhutan’s capital Thimpu, various dzongs, and a river rafting trip down the Mochu River, plus much much more. Along the way, a wide variety of wildlife was witnessed, including the Black-necked Crane – a bird so rare that most birders would do anything to mark it off their “Life List.” Words can’t really do Bhutan’s captivating imagery justice (I don’t even know how to begin describing the takin), but hopefully some of our videos captured along the way can.
Term 2: Boston
It took two and a half years, but TGS finally made its way to North America in the spring of 2013! After spending two weeks in the pristine landscapes of Bhutan, not just any city would do. Luckily, our second term occurred in the host city of Boston, which is widely considered to be one of the top intellectual communities in the world. Lesson plans provided students with perspective on the concepts of freedom and censorship, and the symbolism in books such as Fahrenheit 451 became the topic of discussion in Garrett Austen’s English class. Due to Boston’s close proximity to New York and Washington, D.C., students also had the chance to visit and explore both cities over the course of the spring. The number and quality of guest speakers was also outstanding this term, and their personal experiences and deep knowledge bases provided us with an invaluable wealth of insight. On a somber note, our students and faculty were in the vicinity of the attacks on the Boston Marathon when they occurred, but luckily we escaped without any injuries. The attacks led to a high level of introspection, including a phenomenal piece by Afghani student Jawed. The final weXplore trip of the year took place at The Chewonki Foundation, and despite a bout with inclement weather, all involved had an amazing time.
Although our students only just boarded their planes to take them back home for a couple of months, I’m sure that giddy anticipation is already starting to build as they look forward to Hyderabad, India. It’s part of what makes being a student at THINK Global School so special, and I can’t wait to see what they (and their new classmates) accomplish there.