Encinitas, Solana Beach residents go global

Anderson Lee of Encinitas and Mirai Patel of Solana Beach are two of the more than 500 Pacific Ridge School students and staff who spent the past few weeks experiencing academic, service learning and cultural experiences abroad.

During the school’s year-end global travel period, students in grades 7-10 travel to the Santa Monica Mountains (seventh grade), Washington D.C. (eighth grade), China (ninth grade) and the Northern Sierras (10th grade). Juniors and seniors have the option of choosing from numerous school-designed trips or designing their own year-end trips or internships.

Lee, a junior, traveled to Nicaragua, where students teamed up with Project Bona Fide to explore topics in food security and sustainable living on Ometepe Island. The group spent days doing farm work and learning about food sovereignty, fermentation and permaculture. Nights were spent cooking, playing soccer and practicing Spanish during conversations with homestay families. The trip also included hikes to the top of several volcanoes, teaching English at a local primary school and lessons in natural medicine.

Patel, also a junior, traveled with a group to Cambodia, where students explored social justice through an examination of the nation’s turbulent history and complex politics. Students spent a sobering day visiting the Killing Fields and a former Khmer Rouge prison and speaking with representatives of the Documentation Center of Cambodia — an international non-governmental organization that aims to research and record the era of the Khmer Rouge. The group completed homestays with local families on the Mekong River island of Koh P’dao, where they learned about the various roles within a traditional Cambodian village and assisted with community farm work and gardening. The trip also included a visit to a Buddhist monastery and a biking tour of the Angkor Wat and Bayon temples.

Lee and Patel weren’t the only local residents to take part in Pacific Ridge School’s global travel program. On trips to more than 14 destinations worldwide, students learned about astronomy in Chile, urban design and architecture in Berlin/Copenhagen, rainforest conservation in Costa Rica and more.

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