CIEE students travel abroad, gain experiences

This summer, 16 Shorewood High School students experienced an adventure of a lifetime on CIEE global navigators programs in Italy, Ghana, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Botswana, and the Czech Republic where they studied marine life, sharpened their language skills, explored the arts, and worked with communities on global issues like climate change, children’s rights, and more! Memories were cherished and new friends were made as Shorewood completed its seventh year as a Global Navigator School. 


Alexander McGinty and Danny Huang

Alexander McGinty and Danny Huang, seniors, traveled to Mallorca, one of Spain’s Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean. Famous for its beach resorts, protected coves, and limestone mountains, the island is a dream destination for many tourists. Life in Mallorca was very different from life in Milwaukee, especially since both McGinty and Huang had to live with a host family.

“I was nervous to meet my host family at first, but when I took my first steps into the house I was instantly overwhelmed by the feeling of hospitality,” Huang said. 

McGinty and Huang were both excited and worried about their new life in a new country with a new family. The warmth of their host mother, Lola, and host brother, Luis, quickly dispelled their anxieties.

courtesy Danny Huang

“[Living with a host family] definitely got better because we got to know each other better. We became very close,” McGinty said. 

In Mallorca, the two engaged in a variety of enjoyable activities. They had fun snorkeling, cliff jumping, camping, hiking, sightseeing, meeting locals, and playing soccer. The most notable event, however, was the Fiesta de Sant Joan, a massive celebration of John the Baptist held throughout the island on the evening of June 23 and all day on June 24. The two went to beach bonfires and picnics, as well as the infamous Nit de Foc.

“It was a huge gathering with fire, raves, music, and smoke. The craziest part was these demons, these guys in masks who were running around breathing fire and scaring you,” McGinty said. 

[The classes] have opened my mind towards the possibility of a greener future, where all people can rejoice in a cleaner ocean.

Along with exploring Mallorca’s many treasures, the two studied Spanish and Marine Biology. The numerous assignments and final project have assisted the two in determining what they want to do in the future.

“[The classes] have opened my mind towards the possibility of a greener future, where all people can rejoice in a cleaner ocean,” Huang said. 

Both learned more about the ocean and its inhabitants, as well as Spanish vocabulary, but at the end of three weeks, they realized they had also learned more about themselves as individuals.

“I have become more open to making new friends and I have become more independent in sustaining myself,” McGinty said. 

With new memories and friends, their departure from Mallorca was bittersweet. Huang and McGinty advise others to look into the incredible experiences that CIEE global navigators have to offer.

“It is very important to experience other cultures because then you become a world citizen. You become more inclusive of other cultures, can understand more, and you are not always going to be able to live in a different country,” Huang said.


Masha Velikanov

Masha Velikanov, senior, spent three weeks of the summer in the south of France in a small city called Toulouse as part of the CIEE program. In France, she stayed with a host family while she learned the language and culture.

“They were always super nice but they didn’t speak any English. So at first, it was kind of difficult to communicate with them. But over time I got better and they helped me. I honestly just really loved staying with them,” Velikanov said.

In Toulouse, she spent her free time baking pastries at a bakery, hanging out at a nearby river, and exploring the city with her friends. Velikanov attended classes from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., after which she was required to participate in activities and events in order to immerse herself in the language.

courtesy Masha Velikanov

[My] program was a language one, so the classes mostly focused on just the French language and culture. I feel like I definitely got better throughout the class by being there, and just speaking on a daily basis in French,” Velikanov said. 

Velikanov described how different the layout of the city she visited was from the cities inside America. The cities were very geared toward pedestrians, which Velikanov appreciated. She enjoyed walking around the city, passing through European alleyways, and generally experiencing life as a Toulouse resident. She had hoped to live there someday, inspired by her trip and how much she had enjoyed her time there. Velikanov had an extra great time with the friends she made along the way.

“I had a really close group of 9 girls that I was really close friends with and we still communicate…we’re already planning a reunion-type thing,” Velikanov said.

Velikanov illustrated how important a trip like hers is for self growth. Stepping into a new kind of culture made her understand herself in ways that were different from how it was in Shorewood, a place she’s familiar with and grounded in.

“Just being here, especially in Shorewood, it’s a really small school so you always hang out with the same people and just the things that you do are super consistent, there’s not a lot of change.”

Taking a trip like this doesn’t even matter if it’s for language or another subject, it just kind of helps you build your individuality and really experience a different culture.

Velikanov’s trip allowed her to discover a different side of herself because she was no longer in America with her usual peers. Velikanov believes that this type of experience would help anyone learn more about themselves.

“Taking a trip like this doesn’t even matter if it’s for language or another subject, it just kind of helps you build your individuality and really experience a different culture and a different place in a really unique way,” Velikanov said. 


Chloe Osborn

Chloe Osborn, senior, traveled to Rome, the capital city of Italy. Rome is well-known for its sprawling metropolis of classical architecture and its rich ancient history. Osborn had the opportunity to explore numerous artifacts from the Roman Empire, which ruled the European Continent for several centuries.

“My program was called Exploring Rome Through the Arts so we focused a lot on the art and architecture in Rome and how it’s changed over the years,” Osborn said.

I think that my program really helped me grow as a person. Being so far away from home and everyone I know helped me really realize who I am and adapt to a new environment.

Osborn visited many historical sites, including the Colosseum, Forum, Vatican, and Pantheon. Other activities included touring old villas, visiting art museums, and even visiting an amusement park. The most striking aspect of these events for Osborn was the realization of just how much history exists in the city.

“Everyday we would walk past different ancient buildings and ruins, right next to more modern shops and buildings, which I found really cool,” Osborn said.

One of Osborn’s favorite parts of the program was meeting new friends from all over the country; she still communicates with the majority of them almost every day. Osborn not only made new friends, but she also learned more about herself.

“I think that my program really helped me grow as a person. Being so far away from home and everyone I know helped me really realize who I am and adapt to a new environment,” Osborn said.

For Osborn, her time in Italy, and educational exchange in general, were extremely valuable because they allowed her to learn about the world and other cultures firsthand. Osborn’s trip to Rome sparked her interest in studying abroad, and she hopes to further her global perspective in the future.

“Studying abroad was a very eye opening experience for me and it sparked my interest to travel much more and study abroad again in the future,” Osborn said.


Maya Schmaling

Maya Schmaling, junior, spent three weeks in Amsterdam, the capital of The Netherlands, studying world government. 

“I’ve always wanted to visit Amsterdam,” Schmaling said. “It’s been on my bucket list to visit the Netherlands, and I am also interested in the topic of world Government. I thought that it would be really cool to get the opportunity to go to a different country and learn about something I’m interested in.”

The class was lecture-based and had daily three hour long lessons. The unique conditions provided an opportunity for Schmaling to grow as a student. 

“I advanced as a student because I got a lot more opportunities to work in groups with people I don’t know,” Schmaling said. “It was kind of like meeting new people and forming connections with those people, and at the same time learning new things along with them.”

Outside of the classroom, Schmaling also learned a lot about the culture of Amsterdam.

“Every day we did a cultural activity with one of the program leaders,” Schmaling said. “We went and did something that was unique to the city. For example, one time we went to a market and had these authentic Dutch pancakes.”

Living with roommates in a hostel was a completely new experience for Schmaling. Though new living arrangements and having to navigate a new city could be overwhelming, Schmaling was able to adjust smoothly. 

“I enjoyed the experience of being independent for 3 weeks, because I’ve never had anything like that before,” Schmaling said. 

Schmaling met some interesting people during her time in Amsterdam.

Every day we did a cultural activity with one of the program leaders.

“I did make some good friends, and it was a very different combination of people than what I’m used to, and what I experience in Shorewood,” Schmaling said. “They were from all different parts of the US.”

Schmaling encourages students who may be on the fence about participating in CIEE or similar programs to seize the opportunity, and join. 

“If there’s a country or a place you want to visit and it’s in CIEE, I would say definitely take the leap and try it out, because it ends up being a really worthwhile experience,” Schmaling said.