While high school students across the tri-state immersed themselves in summer activities featuring camps, beaches and boardwalks, Montclair teen Eliza Huber-Weiss, a Newark Academy student, was focused on immersion of a much different sort.
Huber-Weiss, a junior at Newark Academy, traveled to the village of Lerai in Tanzania, Africa with a teen immersion program called The Road Less Traveled. Earlier this year she also did a wilderness/cultural immersion program and went to the Satluj River Valley in the Western Himalayans in India.
Newark Academy, an independent, coeducational day school in Livingston, New Jersey is the first to require an immersion experience as a requirement for graduation. Beginning with the Class of 2013, all Newark Academy students must participate in at least one significant off-campus immersion experience (foreign language, cultural, community service, or wilderness/nature) at some point during their high school years. Many have begun fulfilling the requirement.
“The immersion experience requirement moves Newark Academy’s strong commitment to globally-minded experiences even farther, adding educational and social authenticity,” said Richard DiBianca, Ph.D., Upper School Principal. “Immersion brings content, skills, and ideas directly to students in their natural contents.”
Those who have completed the immersion requirement confirm that “walking in someone else’s shoes” has a greater impact than the “digital connections” available on line. Huber-Weiss certainly agrees. “We were doing service and learning through everything we experienced, “ she said. “ We were helping to build a house for a teacher, and working with five local construction workers from the village. They were incredibly skilled and experienced at what they were doing, and we didn’t know anything about building houses. This summer was amazing because of all I learned. It gave me such perspective on what it means to travel to an unfamiliar place, and how I am perceived there. It was incredibly humbling and fulfilling, and I feel like a different person now that I am home,” said Huber-Weiss.
“More than just travel, the immersion experience requirement engages students in cultural or environmental exploration, developing an appreciation and understanding of diverse cultures, people and perspectives in the world,” said Maria Teresa McNeilly-Anta, Director of Immersion Experiences. “This requirement, combined with our many other curricular innovations and initiatives, underscores our leadership in global education.”