From reaching out to impoverished children in Cambodia to hiking the Milford Track in New Zealand, Interim Semester is a week full of learning opportunities for students to submerge themselves in exotic environments and experiences—otherwise known as stepping out of their own comfort zone. During Interim Semester, high school students participate in a variety of courses, ranging from eco-adventures to global studies, and the mandatory yet impactful service opportunities.
As always, seniors were the first group of students to make their Interim Semester selections. Last Friday, September 29, seniors made their way to room H301 to make one of the most thrilling decisions of their lives—where to spend their week-long excursion. While many new trips, such as the “Everest & The Tengboche Trek” (Nepal) and “Southern Walks Rakiura Track” (New Zealand) were brought to the program this year, many popular trips remained the same as previous years. Without a doubt, the “Moroccan Wanderer” trip to Morocco and “Balkans: Culture, Conflict, and Reconciliation” trip to Croatia were the fastest picks.
In order to learn about the factors affecting students’ choices, junior Min Jung Kim and sophomore Brenda Lee interviewed students across grade levels, asking the question: “Where are you going for the Interim Semester trip, and why?”
Senior Michael Loi proudly reported that he was going to Nepal since he had never been to Nepal or Mount Everest and wanted to experience a new view and environment. As soon as sign-ups began, this newly founded trip to Nepal was indeed one of the fastest-filling trips.
On the other hand, seniors Jiwon Kim and Rishi Bhat mentioned that they were staying in Singapore for the week to save money and go on a trip during spring break with friends. Even though many seniors had the choice of flying to other countries, some decided to stay to discover unexplored areas of the city and save money to plan other trips at the same time.
A stark contrast to the previous three responses, other seniors commented that they chose their trips in order to be with their friends. Senior Cat Carlisle mentioned that she was going to Australia to do service at the zoo because of her friend. She said, “My friend still has to fill her service requirement”. Seniors who still had their service requirement incomplete were given opportunities to devote their time to volunteer and make an impact either in Singapore or across the globe. In this case, Carlisle could immerse herself in service learning and, at the same time, spend a week full of smiles and laughter with her friend.
Another large factor that affected selections included trip sponsors and activities that were part of the trips. Junior Paul Kim decided to partake in the New Zealand Waikaremoana trip due to his enthusiasm for physical activities. A good sponsor coupled with a good location made it an attractive option.
In addition to all these decision-making factors mentioned above, junior Luc Ah-Hot shared a new perspective. He said, “I selected the Nakasendo Japan trip because I wanted to experience the cold, snowy weather, aside from being with my friends.” Due to the fact that Singapore is mainly surrounded by hot and humid weather during the whole year, many students were eager to break out of the bubble to experience a change of weather and environment.
Often times, students are indecisive when it comes to making their selection because of the many trips they have in mind. Sophomore Elizabeth Frey’s choices ranged from New Zealand to Cebu, but she finally made her choice to set her foot on South Island, New Zealand, due to the picturesque scenery the island would bring to her sight.
While some students were facing a dilemma, a common case among underclassmen was the fact that they didn’t have as many options as the upperclassmen. With upperclassmen having the priority to make their selections first, many underclassmen had their first choices taken. Sophomore Hee Jae Park was a victim of this. She explained, “Among sophomores, I was in the last group to make my selection. Since I had all my first choices taken, I decided to stay in Singapore for the theater trip and travel next year when I could get a better pick.”
The same went for freshmen Yoony Kim and Robin Kokke.They selected the Western Australia: Outdoor Adventures trip not only because their first choices were occupied by upperclassmen, and this was one of the overseas trips that still had open slots, but also because they wanted to be part of an adventurous trip with lots of fun and engaging physical activities.
Prior to making interim course selections, each and every student had to consider many factors which not only included immersing themselves in cultural diversity, but also in friendships, weather, and more. This plethora of contributing factors has affected students’ selections for many years now.
This will ultimately will help students find new and diverse perspectives while being part of an explorative, interactive, and memorable week during Interim Semester this coming February.
As we sign off, we wish you a breathtaking experience at Interim Semester!
Photos by Elysia Chang, Will Mundy, Chloe Shin-Gay, Niko Welsh
- interim semester
- service learning