Location: Paris, France Paris is the city of love, the cultural hub of France, and the home of some of the world’s most famous paintings, sculpture, and architecture. France is well known for her gourmet food, her ancient and immaculate architecture, and her beautiful and thought provoking art. It is no question that France is known for its culture but do our perceptions really match the reality of French culture? Through travel and immersion students will experience French culture first hand and have the chance to develop, affirm, and maybe even rethink their perceptions. Students will improve their French language speaking skills and learn about the culture during this eleven day course. The first five days will be spent in Paris immersing ourselves in the culture. During this time students will conduct research projects on the cultural significance of Parisian landmarks, artwork and history.
The final six days will be spent in a homestay with a French family in Nevers. This is part of an exchange program between our school and a high school in Nevers which has lasted over twenty years. This stay has proved to be an invaluable experience for students as they develop relationships with French students their age, learn first-hand about the French culture, and perhaps most importantly, students learn a lot about themselves when living in such a new setting. The cultural immersion will be strengthened by daily journal entries and group discussions reflecting on our experience. Not only will the students learn how to travel responsibly but they will also develop applicable skills making them lifelong cultural ambassadors. There is an additional cost for this pre-registered course and students must have a valid passport and visa if necessary.
Location: Dominican Republic The March Community Service Field Course to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic is designed to offer students the opportunity to complete community development projects in the community of La Sabana Perdida. This course examines issues of culture, poverty, social development and social justice in the Dominican Republic through direct service learning work and preparatory and reflective class sessions and discussions. We will have the opportunity to examine development issues that have plagued the island nation for years and current efforts to address these concerns.
The service learning component includes working on a designated construction project and working in a local elementary school. In addition, we will spend time with community leaders to learn about social and historical issues, and engage in a variety of cross-cultural activities with community members. This course also includes a visit to a couple of local Haitian immigrant communities (a batey), a tour of local schools and orphanages, an evening visiting and touring the Zona Colonial of Santo Domingo, and exploring the small Caribbean country. Not only will we contribute significantly to the local Dominican community in which we will be staying, through genuine service work, but they will also gain first-hand experience in important development issues through talks with local leaders, community members and our Dominican friends. They will learn about Dominican history and culture and hopefully pick up some skills in dancing the merengue and bachata, and learn some Spanish along the way! This course will require students to participate in pre-course meetings beyond the traditional time commitment. There will be an additional fee per student for this course.
Living in a city and living a sustainable lifestyle may sound like an impossibility, but large metropolitan areas around the world are working to confront environmental problems that have resulted from rapid urbanization. This course is designed to give students a hands-on opportunity to learn about the ways people can reduce their environmental impact while living in a city. It will also push students to use what they learn to design an environmentally conscious dream city. We will be working with Eco-Quartier, “an organization of community action, initiative, awareness and environmental accountability” in Montreal, Quebec.
The city of Montreal created this organization to encourage its residents to reduce their environmental impact. We will explore a few neighborhoods to examine the ways Montreal combats environmental problems in today’s world. We will visit the Biosphere, an interactive eco-museum focused on educating the public about ways to build awareness of major environmental issues. A visit to the TOHU’s sorting center, a complex created to highlight Montreal’s circus arts scene and the base of Cirque de Soleil, will help facilitate our environmental citizenship. We will stay at Auberge Alternative, an arts-oriented hostel. Travel identification is required for this course. There will be an additional fee of $50 for required international travel insurance.
In 1814, the lyrics to The Star Spangled Banner billed the United States as "the land of the free and the home of the brave", but this has clearly been a fractured and imperfect freedom for the majority of minority groups in this country. Focusing on the American Civil Rights movement as a primary example, we will look at the history and legacy of both African and Jewish Americans and their courage in facing prejudice and their struggles for social justice. Special attention will be placed on areas of overlap as we seek to better understand what common threads exist in the experience of these Americans. We will thoroughly research key players and develop a set of questions which we will seek to explore through museum visits, community service in conjunction with the KIND Foundation, and participation in the social justice curriculum at the Park School in Baltimore, MD.
We plan to visit the Jewish American History Museum in Philadelphia, The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore, MD and take full advantage of Washington DC's National Museum of African American History and Culture. Time permitting, we may also include short, focused visits to the National Museum of American History's Unity Square Exhibit and the National Women's History Museum exhibits on activism and reform. We will also visit Georgetown Day School, fully integrated since its inception in 1945 in segregated Washington, DC, in order to gain a clearer understanding of how they have evolved from a color-blind institution to one that recognizes, understands and celebrates the differences of their community members. We will be staying in a house within the heart of DC, with friends of The White Mountain School.
Location: University of New Hampshire’s Browne Center Leadership, teamwork, communication, risk, and conflict all play important roles in our lives. On this Field Course, we will have the opportunity to work together to learn about ways of dealing with these challenges and responsibilities as well as exploring our own personal leadership styles. We will learn through hands-on experience on the high and low ropes course at the University of New Hampshire’s Browne Center, as well as through practical experiences with local groups and community members. We will be spending full days outside engaging in fun and exciting activities and initiatives. These challenges are designed to improve our understanding of ourselves and each other, bring awareness to our communication styles, dabble with safe risk-taking and practice active leadership skills.
Upon completing this course, students will be well-positioned to take on leadership roles within the White Mountain community as proctors, crew supervisors, club leaders, and team captains, as well as Field Course assistants and leaders. A positive attitude, an open mind and a willingness to try new things and push yourself out of your comfort zone is necessary. We will work collaboratively to build our leadership skills, solve problems and challenge ourselves. In addition to our time spent at The Browne Center during two of the days, we will spend time examining our own leadership styles and actively practicing these skills. We will be living in a yurt on The Browne Center campus.
What is the largest state legislature in the USA? That’s right, New Hampshire, the state ranked 42nd in total population. The unique qualities of New Hampshire’s political system allow for incredible accessibility to the people, and places that they govern. What are the challenges facing the area in which you go to school and who are the local politicians and government officials working to address these challenges? Our local government provides a window into the unique challenges of more rural America as well as the challenges of local governing in general.
In this Field Course, we will be able to see democracy in action. We will have the opportunity meet, interview, observe, and work with the people who govern, including local selectboard members and state and federal representatives. Students will have the chance to research an issue of interest and talk directly with the people who wrestle with them at the local, state, and federal levels. We will also observe different seats of government, including the New Hampshire State House in Concord, NH and Bethlehem, NH town meetings. Among other things, the hope is that students will build a greater understanding and appreciation of "government of the people, by the people, and for the people" and a greater confidence in participating in the political process.
Location: Portland, Maine The Independent Student Project is a Field Course designed to allow students to study, in depth, a topic of their choosing. With a goal of creating something that adds value to the world, students will be able to follow their interests and passions. Centered in the picturesque city of Portland, Maine, students will have the flexibility to ask their own “big” questions and then design a detailed course of study, both academic and experiential, to answer those questions. With faculty assistance, students on this course will brainstorm, plan, set up and carry out their complete curriculum. All participants will create a culminating project and give a group presentation highlighting their work.
Portland will allow for a tremendous variety of possible courses of study. Individually or in small groups, students have the opportunity to pursue their interests and passions. Previous projects have ranged from creating a series of watercolor paintings to exploring the music and art scenes of Portland to researching the different ways people train for rock climbing. There will be an advanced sign-up process for this course to best meet the needs of the independent projects as well as to begin the necessary logistics for each student’s idea. Students will be expected to conduct initial research about locations and resources in Portland, and to work with the leaders on advance planning of their project.
Location: The Mojave Desert, California The Mojave Desert is the driest and smallest of the four North American deserts, and it only receives an average of 6 inches of precipitation annually. The Mojave is considered a true arid landscape, but in the desert there is always life. This Field Course is a climbing trip and a natural history adventure focused on exploring and discovering that elusive desert life. During the course of the adventure we will seek to understand the natural world and our own connections to the desert environment. Joshua Tree National Park will be our home for observation and engagement with this special region of North America. With natural history as our focus, students will follow their interests and gain a sense of place by studying and teaching their peers about the desert flora and fauna, geology, human history and other aspects of life in the Mojave Desert.
Joshua Tree National Park in southern California is also a destination for climbers from around the world and boasts some historic granite climbing in its unique desert climate. In addition to our study of the natural history of the place, we will spend the week exploring Joshua Tree’s granitic domes and spires while we practice our climbing systems and multi-pitch techniques. There are climbs to suit all abilities and most of them are crack or face climbs on the coarse golden granite typical of this southern desert. Students will be able to practice and learn safe climbing skills and no climbing experience is required, just a desire to learn and explore. Our nights will be spent at a National Park campground, sleeping in tents and cooking our own meals. Prior to departure, we will spend a few days in our climbing gym to learn or review basic climbing skills. There will be an additional fee per student for this course.
On this Field Course, we will study the psychology of group dynamics and explore the reasons why people think and act differently in a variety of group situations. During Field Course, students will gain a foundational knowledge of psychological topics and processes through a variety of different sources. We will examine some current research in applied psychology, perform assessments of ourselves and the group, and use non-fiction literature as case studies to examine people’s thoughts, feelings and actions in different scenarios. Each student will present a specific case study of group dynamics for full group discussion each evening. We will participate in mindfulness activities and will also maintain a daily journal to help hone our observation skills and to reflect on our own personal thoughts, feelings and behavior as well as the overall group dynamic that day.
We will spend the week cross-country skiing between three beautiful eco-lodges that are part of the new Maine Huts and Trails system. We will be outside skiing each day, and we will also be able to enjoy delicious freshly-prepared food, warm drinks, and a well-earned night's rest at each lodge. This course is available to anyone, regardless of skiing experience. All required ski equipment is available to be borrowed from the school, and all participating students will also take part in an instructional ski clinic prior to the start of this course.
Winter in New England is an important part of the yearly seasonal cycle, filled with unique opportunities to study physical landscape, climate, biological activity, and the relationship between these factors. Wintertime offers insights into ecosystem function and the natural history of the region that may not be appreciated in summer visits to the field. A study of this season imparts a better understanding of Northern ecology, and provides an important sense of the human impact upon a place in the natural world. This course is intended as an introduction to physical and biological processes, and species interactions in snow-covered, wintertime environments. This experience will allow us to study the distinctive adaptations of plants, animals, and human beings that allow them to survive in winter climates.
We will spend our nights in a cozy roadside cabin and our days exploring the forests and peaks around us. We will focus primarily on New Hampshire’s abundant deciduous forests, with potential forays into subalpine forests, alpine tundra, coniferous forests or wetlands. Our days will be spent doing extensive field observations, working with local experts, and doing our own research. Through class work, fieldwork, and individual projects, we will begin to understand the complex mountain ecosystems of the Northeastern US. You don’t need prior outdoor experience or scientific expertise to participate in this course, just a curiosity about the winter environment. You will need basic winter outdoor gear including warm boots and clothing for day trips.
For centuries, playwrights have told stories and entertained audiences in the forms of comedy, satire and tragedy. Some of the classic plays which are centuries old, still connect to modern audience and seem timeless. Playwriting is an important form of art in our culture, and one that has gone through significant evolution. This Field Course is your chance to learn how to use your creativity to write a play that truly reflects your thoughts and ideas. Playwriting is a fun and rewarding form of creative writing. What makes playwriting unique is that what you write is designed to be performed. It’s a way to share a story from your life or dive deep into the depths of fiction.
On this Field Course, we will spend five days learning the techniques of playwriting in North Conway. We will learn how to develop an idea - about an experience, historical event or current event - into an engaging and meaningful play. Explicit instruction on the elements of playwriting will provide a scaffold for students to expand their ideas. Each day we will have time to write and share our plays, get feedback, and then see our plays performed. We will also go see live performances and meet with theater professionals in Portland. We will use a “Write to Perform” journal to take notes, brainstorm, reflect, and put our plays through the writing process of drafting and revising a performance-ready ten-minute play.
What is it about the ocean that so profoundly captivates the human imagination? Is it its dynamism, the life under its surface, or even its impossible, immeasurable size? In this Field Course we will explore a number of literary texts which use the sea as a thematic centerpiece to further explore the human condition and its relationship to the natural world. Authors include Rachel Carson, Virginia Woolf, Herman Melville, John Banville, Ernest Hemingway, as well as several local Maine authors who we will have the opportunity to meet. Additionally, students will try their hand at some creative writing using the ocean as a basis for their work.
We will use an island in Casco Bay on Maine’s coast as our home base, camping out together while we explore the natural features of this region in which the Atlantic Ocean has such a great impact. Every morning we will wake up to lobster boats buzzing by our campsite to seek the day’s catch. In the evening, we will wade in ocean water glowing with phosphorescence (marine microorganisms that emit light). Between these times we will dive into a number of literary texts while immersing ourselves in the ocean by visiting rock and sand beaches, salt marshes, and local fishing towns and cities.
Get ready to experience some of the amazing cultural and art venues in the greatest city in the world: New York City! We’ll leave on the early bus on Monday morning and arrive in NYC in the early afternoon. That’s just the beginning of five days of food, art and theater in the cultural capital of the world. We will be staying at an apartment in NYC, in a prime location for accessing the most culturally stimulating venues. Each day we will hop on the subway and hop off at the doorstep of intellectual adventure. By day we will explore beautiful, influential art while we tour galleries at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Cloisters, the Museum of Modern Art, and in the art gallery district in Chelsea. By night we’ll experience two Broadway productions and authentic New York City cuisine. This is a phenomenal opportunity for students to learn about theater or art formally and further their experience and understanding of these fields.
Our downtime will be spent journaling, critiquing and discussing our experiences, examining how theater and art both reflect society and impact it, and exploring the city. Students will read short and informative articles and will be expected to complete a Field Course journal in which they record what they’ve learned, seen and heard, and how they have expanded their creative horizons. Our hope is for students to further their understanding of how humans have expressed themselves through the arts throughout history. There is an additional cost of $550 per student for this Field Course.
From the book The New Jim Crow to recent bipartisan conversations about reducing minimum sentencing, increasing mental health support, and proactive rather than reactive policies to the Black Lives Matter movement, questions about the fairness and equity of our criminal justice system have risen to the top of the national conversation. According to a report by the Prison Policy initiative, it was reported that 57% of persons incarcerated in the U.S. have been convicted of violating state law, while another 30% are in local jails awaiting trial for violating local and state laws. Only 10% of the prison population are incarcerated for violating federal laws. Beyond that, the prison population is skewed in gender (Male 80%, Female 20%). With regard to ethnicity in the prison population, there are glaring disparities.
We will take an in-depth look at the Criminal Justice system by visiting our local courts, speaking with law enforcement officials and visiting local prisons. We will examine the economic relationship between the judicial system and the prison industrial complex, the ways in which the judicial system deals with mental health, and the racial inequities of the prison population. Participants will learn about the inner workings of the justice system, reflect on its complexity and challenge themselves to work as agents for change. This course will be based in New Hampshire and focused on our state systems.
The Mahoosuc Mountain Range on the Appalachian Trail will be our classroom as we explore leadership and expedition planning. As we walk from New Hampshire to Maine, we will learn backcountry and leadership skills, and strategies relevant to many situations. We will focus on a peer leadership model, understanding individual leadership styles, building a cohesive group, being effective communicators, setting goals, and planning and executing safe group activities and expeditions. This Field Course will provide the opportunity for students to push themselves physically while exploring one of the most scenic parts of the eastern United States.
Upon completing this course students will be well-positioned to take on leaderships roles within the WMS community as proctors, crew supervisors, club leaders, and team captains, as well as Field Course assistants and leaders. In the pre-trip class we will introduce the peer leadership model and while on the trail, students will have the opportunity to put their skills into action. Students will also play an active role in planning and preparing for this course. Our days will be spent hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail, honing the craft of general and expedition leadership. This is a true backcountry trip, and we will be staying in lean-to shelters. Students do not need prior backpacking experience. Participants, however, need to be prepared for a physically challenging endeavor.
Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park, is the definition of a contrasting natural environment. From the ocean off Schoodic Point to the top of Cadillac Mountain, a traveler can traverse a landscape that started forming 500 million years ago. This landscape, which began as volcanic ash, sand and silt, was carved by successive glacials during the Pleistocene epoch. It is now home to one of the most diverse ecological communities one can find outside of a rainforest.
During our week on this eastern seaboard gem, students will gain an appreciation for the rocks under their feet, the forces that shaped them, and the flora and fauna that now cover them. At Otter Cliff students’ perspective of the area's geology will be up-close and personal as they rock climb cliffs rising from the sea. Atop Cadillac Mountain we will be among the first people in the United States to witness the day’s sunrise while exploring the fragile ecosystem near the summit. The number of stunning natural areas are endless, and we’ll do our best to explore many of them. Nights will be spent camping next to the ocean at Blackwoods Campground located in Acadia National Park. This trip is open to anyone with a sense of adventure and interest in gaining a deeper appreciation of their natural environment.
Have you ever considered immersing yourself in the world of art? Join “Inspired: Art and Art Making in the Berkshires” and visit creative and cultural hotspots in western Massachusetts. We’ll spend a day at the world-renowned Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MassMOCA), meet with community art leaders and program directors in Northampton, MA, build our own public art projects, and reflect through daily art journaling and discussion. As part of the journaling exercises students can expect to develop their drawing skills, learn new ways to respond to what they see around them and experiment with a variety of art media.
We’ll also create art related to our mountain-top setting in the Berkshires. Drawing inspiration from nature is something artists have done throughout history, and we’ll participate in that tradition by immersing ourselves in the outdoors and allowing it to infiltrate our creative work. Students will need to be open to exploring many different types of visual art and committed to learning the creative and beautiful process of art journaling. We will be staying in one of the AMC’s Noble View cabins in western Massachusetts.
As a small country of 320,000 people, Iceland is a place where glaciers meet the sea and active volcanoes redesign the modern landscape. Black sand beaches, lush green coastlines, painted highlands of red, yellow and black, bright blue hot springs, waterfalls, and geysers are all evidence of how geologically active the Icelandic landscape is. Situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge tectonic plate boundary, where the North American and Eurasian plates are drifting apart, Iceland is the perfect classroom to study both geology and its relationship to the rich cultural identity of the island and its people.
On this Field Course we will study the relationships among geologic history, pertinent geomorphic processes, geothermal energy, regional weather and climate, and human activities as they relate to this unique place. We will seek to cultivate an active understanding of the importance of landscape and place in human life. Consistently ranked as the safest country in the world, Iceland attributes this to its focus on civil rights, equality for its people and education. Our course will engage with both the culture and the landscape that define its inhabitants. Days will be filled with exploring the capital city of Reykjavik, meeting with local experts, hiking trails in National Parks and exploring glaciers. Each night we will return to our hostel or guesthouse. There is an additional cost of $1,200 plus airfare (estimated cost: $800-$900) per student for this Field Course.
Sustainable development can be thought of as meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. On this Field Course we will be looking at the environmental, social and economic sides of sustainability. We will be asking some big questions such as: How can we live comfortably while at the same time ensuring that the lives of our global neighbors are not impacted by adverse social, economic or environmental conditions? How can we make choices in our daily lives to help minimize our ecological footprint? And how can we act both locally and globally to make sure that we are not compromising the wellbeing of future generations?
This course will be centered at Cite Ecologique, an Ecovillage in Colebrook, NH, that offers an organic farm, a renewable energy company, a global goods distribution business, their own school, and a recycling enterprise, among other things. Students will have the opportunity to participate in each of these aspects of the community and learn about the overarching philosophy of the global Ecovillage movement. This Field Course will offer students the chance to examine, challenge, and expand some of their own ideas about being global citizens, as well as the opportunity to see how one community is living out their shared vision of sustainability.
According to the documentary In Defense of Food , “We make over 200 decisions about food a day.” Each of these decisions is an opportunity to fuel one's body for success, but not everyone has access to nutrient-rich foods. During this Field Course we will explore current research on nutrition alongside a study of food justice, specifically access to healthy and nutritious ingredients. We will also reflect on what factors impact our daily decisions surrounding food and develop strategies to make more nutritionally balanced decisions. We will achieve this through a variety of activities including speaking with nutritionists, interviewing farmers, exploring the farm to plate movement, mapping food deserts and preparing our own meals on a variety of budgets. Through journaling and reflection activities we will consider factors such as cost, taste and accessibility.
During the week we will be staying in Providence, Rhode Island and traveling to nearby farms, soup kitchens and grocery stores. We will volunteer on a farm to learn more about food production and speak with personnel in charge of ordering and preparing food for large communities. We will visit a local farmer's market and interview a variety of farmers as well as conduct a grocery store inventory in various parts of the city. In small groups we will shop on a budget while also striving to meet nutritional standards and then prepare the meals. At the end of the course we will have an understanding of how to best fuel our bodies, how nutrition impacts us and how to eat the best we can with what we have. This will culminate in us creating a nutrition philosophy.
In a country that wastes billions of pounds of food each year, it's almost shocking that anyone in America goes hungry. Yet every day there are millions of children and adults who do not get the meals they need to thrive. According to the organization Feeding America, 46.5 million people in the United States come from households that are food insecure which means that these people do not have access to adequate food to live an active and healthy lifestyle. In addition, millions of people in the United States are struggling to get by because of underemployment, stagnant wages and the rising costs of living.
This Field Course will explore the causes and consequences of poverty in the United States through community service work in Portland, Maine. We will extend our study from the theoretical to the practical as we work with Good Shepherd Food Bank, sorting and packing much-needed groceries for children, families and the elderly. We’ll also work with Preble Street Resource Center’s soup kitchen volunteering our time and energy with the people who need it the most. In addition to interacting with the recipients of these services, we will examine these topics through readings, documentaries and discussions. We will be shopping for our meals in small groups, similar to a small family, on a limited budget at local grocery stores while sleeping and preparing our meals in a church in Portland. You must be 16 to sign up for this course.
The mighty Colorado River stretches 1,450 miles and is one of the principal watersheds in the western United States. It begins as a trickle in the Rocky Mountains and grows into a massive river that flows through seven U.S. and two Mexican states. The river's history is as wild as its whitewater rapids, supplying water to more than 25 million people and responsible for irrigating 3.5 million acres of farmland. Interestingly, this grand river no longer reaches the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, as it once did, due to a number of competing forces that utilize this water for life and profit including irrigation, hydroelectric power production and domestic water supply. The Colorado River is now one of the most highly controlled and controversial rivers in the world.
In this course we will study the complicated water rights of this majestic river. Once a wild and untamed icon of the American West, it is now a river stretched beyond its max with fifteen major dams and hundreds more on its tributaries. Through the medium of a backcountry river trip in the lower Grand Canyon, we will speak with experts on how water is used in the desert southwest, meet with different constituent groups, and analyze water rights to gain a better understanding of this complicated, and to some, controversial issue. We will spend our first day based at Prescott College, meeting with water rights experts and activists. The following day we will begin our trek on the Colorado River at Diamond Creek and spend the next four days paddling on and exploring the last section of the Grand Canyon before stopping at Pierce Ferry. There is an additional cost of $750 plus airfare (estimated cost: $500-$600) per student for this Field Course.
THE WHITE MOUNTAIN SCHOOL
371 West Farm Road • Bethlehem, New Hampshire 03574 • 603.444.2928
Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, The White Mountain School is a coeducational college-preparatory boarding and day school for students grades 9-12/PG.