Mark Day School uses a global lens to broaden horizons and deepen students’ educational experience. The school’s Global Partnership Program builds relationships with local and international schools and organizations; the program was founded on the idea of reciprocity—everyone involved has something to learn and something to teach.
Last summer, 15 students in grades 1-8 and their families visited the school’s two partners in South Africa—eSibonisweni Primary School in the rural northeast, and Kliptown Youth Program (KYP), a resource for many children and young adults in Soweto. They assisted with vision testing, played sports, served food, and talked with local kids about being grateful for someone or something, no matter where they live.
“We wanted to incorporate our school’s focus on thinking about and sharing “gratitudes,” so we talked about things that were the same and things that were different,” says first grade teacher Lisa Becker, who’s been part of the South Africa delegation five times. Everyone wrote or drew these “gratitudes” on colorful paper butterflies and birds; they strung their creations together, shared some with their partners, and brought others back home as mementos.
In October, Mark Day will host a delegation of 11 students from Costa Rica’s Pan-American School. And this spring marks the fourth visit from Artist-in-Residence Thando Bezana from KYP, who will be teaching music, dance, and history classes to enthusiastic students.
“We ask students to step out of their comfort zones in ways they never have before,” says Fernanda Pernambuco, Director of Cross-Cultural Partnerships and Community Engagement. “They work together with our partners and truly engage, forging deep relationships that shift their world views and endure long after graduation.”