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To travel is to live
Laura Novia

Travel is proven to broaden the mind, enrich the soul, and deepen one's understanding of the people and places in the world around us. That is why each year, Saint Mary's School offers opportunities for its students to journey to different lands and experience cultures new to them. Through these experiences students develop competencies - and memories, that will serve them for a lifetime. As Hans Christian Andersen is credited with saying, "to travel is to live," and so this spring, an adventurous group of Saint Mary's girls and faculty have set off for Ethiopia and the Dominican Republic.

With a focus on service, Saint Mary's Ethiopian trip to Addis Ababa, organized through Cherokee Gives Back, exposes students to Ethiopian culture through an exploration of life in this developing country. Students engage in community service at local institutions – like Destiny Academy, a pre-K through 8 school providing an education to children who would otherwise be unable to afford one; and Berhan Yehun, an afterschool program designed to meet the basic needs and improve the quality of life for children and families in the community; and learn about local efforts and programs giving people, specifically women, the skills needed to build better, independent futures.

At Sele Enat, a non-profit orphanage, Saint Mary's students see young mothers being taught practical and financial skills to better support themselves and their children. At the Hamlin Fistula Hospital, students learn about some of the health issues facing Ethiopian women and how they are being addressed. A trip to Born Free sanctuary gives students a firsthand look at the challenges facing wildlife conservation in Ethiopia. Click here to read a student blog featuring daily posts recounting the girls' experiences and their insights.

A second group of Saint Mary's students are in the Dominican Republic participating in the Young Women's Leadership Summit. Students participate in workshops and programming designed to build their leadership skills. They meet with local women leaders – like the executive director of DREAM Project, an organization dedicated to educating children in need, and the founder of Whale Samana, a whale-watching business; and they learn about the culture and history of the Dominican Republic by participating in community projects with local organizations. The trip also includes a day of snorkeling in Sosua Bay and an exploration of the colonial zone of Santo Domingo.

When these students return from their trips to Ethiopia and the Dominican Republic, they will bring with them new perspectives, new skills, and new knowledge. They will share what they have seen and learned with their friends and family and in so doing will enrich others' lives and build greater global understanding.

For more about travel experiences at Saint Mary's School, click here.