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ABF Goes British: 8 Days in London

Juniors Justin Jung, Jack Nassau, Olivia Cecoltan, Grace Huang, Iris Lee, and Brian Kehoe on the streets of London.

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All photos by Megan Baumbach and Samantha Zucker.

Forty juniors and seniors of ABFIB spent eight days in London this past November in the academy’s third annual global exchange program.

The trip was the students’ International Baccalaureate (IB) Capstone Experience. The visit to London allowed business students under the IB Diploma Programme at BCA to experience one of the world’s most important financial centers.

From top left to bottom right: Juniors Justin Jung, Jack Nassau, Olivia Cecoltan, Grace Huang, Iris Lee, and Brian Kehoe on the streets of London.

An action-packed cultural and educational immersion, the international experience centered around global education and global exchange, community service, business and economics, and cultural experiences within the city.

While top tourist attractions such as the Big Ben, London Eye, and Westminster Abbey along with a cruise on the River Thames and a bike tour of Hyde Park were part of the itinerary, a large

From left to right: Seniors Anthony Conte, Sarah Kim, and Samantha Zucker enjoying an evening ride on the famous London Eye ferris wheel.

portion of the trip was also dedicated to less conventional activities. For example, students had the opportunity to experience London education first-hand by shadowing students at the George Green’s School in their IB programs. Each BCA student was paired with a local student of the corresponding grade level who they got to know throughout the day and whose classes they then attended.

Isabella Impalli, an ABF junior, enjoyed seeing the contrast

ABF students, as they prepare for a day of IB classes with students at the George Green school.

 

between the IB program at George Green and BCA. “I liked seeing the high school,” she said.  “It was interesting to see the amount of flexibility students had when choosing their courses even though they were still all IB students just like us.”

Yet, she did note her distaste for the structure of the school’s schedule, stating “I didn’t like how they had three classes a day that were excruciatingly long.”

Being that this was an ABF trip, getting a first-hand look into London businesses was a main focus. Students visited a series of London-based corporations and government entities such as Lloyd’s of London, the London Metal Exchange, the City of London, and the Bank of England museum.

I wanted to explore the spirit of the IB Diploma through a global exchange with another IB school, CAS activities, cultural exploration… visits to corporations and organizations to delve into international business and economics.”

— Mr. Kaser

For a taste of UK marketing and branding, students wrapped up their corporate visits with a trip to the cool and modern offices of  NBA Europe.

After a day of formal corporate visits, students received a VIP treatment at the headquarters of NBA Europe where they not only got to learn about marketing, but tested their NBA knowledge.

Impalli says that of all the corporate visits, this one was her favorite.

Samuel Reiter, also an ABF junior, described the trip as “eye-opening” and  “an immersive experience in a different culture.” At first, Reiter assumed this trip would consist mainly of tourist-like attractions. He said, “I expected that we’d be seeing the sights, but I feel that we really learned and experienced the culture.”

For many students, the cultural experiences proved to be the most memorable. Reiter favored his visit to Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, while Impalli felt that traditional afternoon tea, complete with finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries, at the Georgian, a restaurant at the famed Harrod’s department store, was her favorite activity.

Juniors raising their pinkies as they enjoy traditional afternoon tea at The Georgian! They thought they were just visiting Harrods, but Mr. Kaser surprised everyone with this truly British experience.

Brian Lee, an ABF senior, agreed that London proved its food stereotypes wrong, but his favorite cultural experience was on the stage instead. He was most impressed by an evening performance of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Lee was passionate as he talked about the new musical, describing it as “a  beautiful mixture of music, both dark and light-hearted humor, and biting social critique that all flowed together to make a wonderful story with a purpose.”

The entire London trip was planned, organized and led by Mr. Kaser, the guidance counselor of ABF, which he said was no easy feat.

“I started planning about six months in advance and put in substantial time over the summer to align all of the details of a 9 day trip with 40 students abroad,” he explained.

He added that attention to detail was key to ensuring the trip was successful. Mr. Kaser said, “I planned the entire trip-every meal, cultural visits, school and university visits, accommodations, travel arrangements, etc.-so I had to be very detail-oriented and make sure that everything was set. If something went wrong, it all came back to me.”

While international high school trips are not limited to ABF or BCA, Mr. Kaser noted that what makes this trip different and unique for business students is that it is “planned from the ground up internally.” An outside tour company is not used, so no other high school in the world is getting the exact same experience.

He explained, “I wanted to build a program to fully explore the spirit of the IB Diploma through a global exchange with another IB school, CAS activities, cultural exploration, and since we are ABF, visits to corporations and organizations to delve into international business and economics.”

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a beautiful mixture of music, both dark and light-hearted humor, and biting social critique that all flowed together to make a wonderful story with a purpose.”

— Brian Lee

CAS refers to the foundation of the IB Diploma consisting of Creativity, Service, and Action. Throughout the trip, students could accrue hours for each category. One notable CAS experience included all 40 students spending a half-day volunteering at

Students do their part for Rhythms for Life as they assist with the unloading of food. They later went out on the streets of London to hand-deliver lunches to the homeless.

Rhythms for Life, an expanding homelessness charity. Students cooked, organized toiletries, and helped publicize the organization before walking down the streets of London delivering packages of hot food to the homeless.

Three other chaperones, including Dr. Abramson, Mrs. Sousa, and Ms. Kouefati joined the students in London as well.

Dr. Abramson, who visits London annually and has also traveled internationally with BCA for math team competitions, stressed the importance of having students be exposed to UK universities while in London. Students had the opportunity to visit Oxford University and the London School of Economics (LSE), where they met with admissions representatives and received tours of the institutions.

Oxford University: Students and chaperones are content after a day spent at the oldest university in the English-speaking world.

“There are enough people at BCA that would be better served by an English-style education there because they can jump right into their subject of interest rather than the liberal arts system in the United States they are required to take,” said Dr. Abramson. “Very few people in the US know how foreign colleges work and to see the people and the way things work over there can give people a sense of, ‘hey, perhaps  this is for me.”

The annual global exchange is only in its third year. It was initiated by Mr. Kaser in 2014, who said he was inspired to introduce something of the sort after returning from visiting London universities.

“I had just come back from my first trip to London visiting colleges, and was so excited by the potential I saw in London as an international travel destination for ABFIB students,” he said. “Plus I was ready for the challenge of bringing something that had never been done before to ABF.”

That first year, London was the destination too, but in 2015 students flew all the way to Hong Kong, the business capital of Asia. Since then, the intention has been to visit one of these international cities annually to give every ABF student an opportunity to experience both- one during junior year and the other during senior year.

Seniors Christina Xue and Anna Prisco can’t contain their excitement as they pose with one of the soldiers from the Queen’s Guard.

As of today, the future of these international trips seems bright, but Mr. Kaser suggests the possibility of extending such global experiences beyond ABF.

 “I hope that BCA continues to expand our global exchange programs in a big way, so that even more BCA students can have an experience like this during their time in high school.”

 

A detailed blog, itinerary, and photos of the 2016 ABFIB London trip can  be found at http://london2016.strikingly.com.

 

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ABF Goes British: 8 Days in London