This month, the Lakeside Upper School’s Global Service Learning (GSL) program introduced a new GSL opportunity for students: GSL Seattle. The purpose of this new GSL is to give students an opportunity to combine a passion for service learning with a culturally immersive experience and to empower students to be the agents of change, especially in this new outbreak culture.
Because all other GSL trips have been unfortunately cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this newly introduced GSL program will serve to compensate for lost opportunities and continue to provide an enriched experience for all interested Lakeside students.
Coordinator Ms. Lenhart said on behalf of the GSL committee, “I think students will love this new GSL!” Our journalists have been informed of several advantages of this new GSL program. For one, Ms. Lenhart says, “The cost of this trip for all participating students and families is absolutely zero,” meaning $0.00 cancellation fees and $0.00 travelling expenses (financial aid may apply; see the Lakeside website for details). Unlike other GSL trips in the past, this new Seattle GSL opportunity will allow both students and their families to immerse themselves in a unique cultural atmosphere. In addition, students need not worry about language barriers. This means no more frantic referrals to dictionaries, and no more agitated gestures to the bathroom. While all GSLs are about students connecting their lives to a different environment, this one will go above and beyond in allowing students to find and “adapt to a temporary new normal,” as headmaster Bernie Noe eloquently put it.
GSL Seattle students’ daily routines will be similar to other GSL trips. Over the span of four weeks, each student will have the culturally immersive experience of eating breakfast, lunch and dinner with their homestay families, in this case their actual parents and siblings. In the morning, after debriefing, students will attend workshops and activities to benefit the Seattle community, such as sewing facial masks, constructing isolation tents, and practicing self-quarantine. In the afternoon, students will teach online classes to local preschool and elementary students through platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Google Classroom. Through this distinctive experience, Lakeside students will be exposed firsthand to not only the cultural but also the virologic settings of Seattle, WA.
This GSL will bring students the unique opportunity to practice social distancing. This does not mean students must be alone all the time. Instead, during GSL Seattle, students will bond closely and intensively with their homestay families. GSL coordinator Mr. Wilson gives some inside tips for prospective students: “Remember that Seattleites are going through a really difficult time right now, so practice your frustrated voices, bored postures, and disappointed mutterings…it’ll help you fit right in.” Also, he elaborates, “Make sure to apprehensively hold your breath for ten seconds every time someone sneezes or coughs next to you.”
GSL Seattle, above all else, will empower students to be mentally free. Now that students are socially distanced, they will be free to turn doorknobs at will, to rub their eyes and faces, and even to fearlessly pick their noses. No one will care. Remember those Lakeside competencies and mindsets? Students will finally be able to develop and reflect and even (dare I say?) do nothing. Through this trip, students will greatly improve their self-awareness. They will begin to carefully monitor the amount of toilet paper and hand sanitizer they are using. For this particular GSL, students will even be freed from the usual ban on GSL dating. For those who want to practice “socially distant” dating, they can virtually watch movies together by hitting the play button at the same time, and caringly ask if their date has washed their hands thoroughly.
William Golding, author of Lord of the Flies, believed that if you leave a group of motivated teenagers alone, you will be amazed by what may happen. So, do not miss this opportunity to become a true pioneer of the new pandemic culture. And sign up starting April 1st, 2020. More information may be found at https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/veryrealnews/gsl.