The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

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The administration recently released information regarding changes to next year’s Alternatives. These changes include making it mandatory for seniors to attend the trips as well as making all of the Alternatives overnight and outside of London. Four students provide their opinion on these new reforms.

Ian Scoville (‘15): I completely understand why the changes to Alternatives are being made, in fact, I agree with forcing Seniors to go on Alternatives, but the administration seems to have forgotten a key part of Alternatives: Experiential education. Alternatives are about building excellent relationships with your peers over new and interesting experiences. In this respect, the abandonment of London-based Alternatives is a shocking oversight by the administration. In my high school career, I’ve been on an Alternative in Shropshire for Creative Writing, and an Alternative in London (Ye Olde English Sports). In Shropshire, I was sharing a room with someone and spending most of the day with other people, and in London I was able to have a similar experience. Instead of working in creative writing seminars, though, I was riding the tube and playing sports with my peers. I understand how out-of-London trips are expected to build more “community,” but I have to admit, I see that logic as significantly flawed – I benefitted from “community” on both Alternatives , just in  different environments.

Emmanuelle Gers (‘16): Compared to last year, I think in many ways it is better to have the trips be outside of London. Last year I participated in the Tuscan Cooking Alternative in London. While I found that Alternative to be very fun, my friends, who had Alternatives in Italy, were doing culinary related activities and so by comparison, I felt left out of a potential greater experience that I could have had. For the purpose of inclusivity and building stronger friendships, I think this new reform will be a good thing. However, I know that around the time of Alternatives, many seniors will be filling out college applications and writing their essays. So, Alternatives for them might feel like a wasted opportunity to be doing something more beneficial in terms of preparing for college. I think that the alternative that allowed seniors to go college touring could be a good solution to satisfy the new reform and the benefits of the seniors.

Alex Campili (‘15): I don’t believe that Alternatives encompass the building of community aspect. I have on ly been on one formal Alternative, and while I found the concept of the trip interesting, overall group bonding was minimal and students generally didn’t seem devoted to the experience. During my freshman year I opted to go on a service trip. The difference between the service trips, and Alternatives is that those who go on the service trips really want to be there; they’ve gone through an application process. The students on those trips share common goals regarding what they want to experience and take away from their travels. The same does not apply to the lottery-based. I believe there is an overarching sentiment expressed amongst the high school student population that Alternatives are impractical and of little value. Furthermore, since our school is so concerned about fitting in extra school time, does it not seem wasteful and hypocritical to devote an exorbitant amount of our schooling to these trips?

Zack Ashley (‘15): While many Senior’s first reaction to these new reforms may have been one of anger, I actually believe that these reforms are for the better. The new timing, now in the first few weeks of school, of the dates allows for seniors to still go college touring over October Break while, as they will not be assigned any work over Alternatives, the three days away from home shouldn’t really affect the application process too much. Although people like to act too cool for Alternatives I’ve actually had a fantastic time on both the Alternative trips I’ve been on. These trips are a great way to build community and having them in the first few weeks of school will only help that. I also really believe that the only way to gain a global perspective is via first hand experiences. In taking us to new countries to meet new people, it will cause the Alternative trips to encompass this ideal form of learning.

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