Students Traveling on Four International Trips

Tuesday, May 31, 2022
Students at the Pantheon during Mercersburg's last trip to Italy in 2019.

This June, students are taking part in four international trips through Mercersburg Academy’s Global Programs and Initiatives. Groups are traveling to Puerto Rico, Italy, Canada, and Germany, marking the first time the school has sponsored international trips since the global COVID-19 pandemic began.

“Making the decision to return to travel was one that we did not take lightly,” says Justine O’Connell, Mercersburg’s director of global programs. “We’re lucky to be a part of a network of global programs directors at other independent schools who provide us with benchmark data in order to make informed decisions about best practices related to international travel programming. On top of that, there’s been great energy and desire to travel from both the students and the faculty members, which makes my job even more fun.”

The first trip departed June 4 for Canada; it will return Sunday, June 12. This trip will take students to Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, which is home to one of the world’s most famous canoeing areas. After traveling to the park, which is located north of Toronto, the group will participate in a five-day canoe trek where they will camp together each night.

The goals of the trip are to build a strong connection to nature; foster a passion for the outdoors; build an appreciation for the history and geology of the local environment; build character through teamwork, tenacity, adversity, and potential failure; and have fun in the outdoors.

On June 5, the remaining three groups left for Puerto Rico (June 5-12), Italy (June 5-16), and Germany (June 5-16). Students traveling to Puerto Rico will be challenged to learn about the culture, geography, economy, and ecology of the island while participating in meaningful service-learning projects. Although the program chiefly focuses on service learning, the week will also include cultural activities such as learning to dance salsa, swimming and kayaking, exploring Old San Juan, and enjoying local cuisines. This trip is through a partnership with WorldStrides.

Students traveling to Italy will learn how to travel independently in southern Europe via train, bus, and on foot, and will investigate numerous sites in and around Rome, Florence, Naples, Pompeii, and Sorrento. The trip is focused on the early imperial era of Rome and features a number of locations connected to Vergil's Aeneid and the Julio-Claudian emperors. The trip is being organized in partnership with the Paideia Institute. 

Finally, students in the German language program will have the opportunity to travel to Germany as a culminating experience to end their language studies. Visiting sites and cities they’ve studied and interacting with native speakers will allow the students to immerse themselves fully in the language. They will use their language skills to plan their accommodations and daily itinerary, including their transportation and entrance costs for different locations. As a team, they will constantly assess and check their travel program budget in order to successfully plan the two-week program.

To follow along as Mercersburg students travel the globe, visit @mburgglobal on Instagram.

For more information on this story, please contact Lee Owen ( in Mercersburg’s Office of Strategic Marketing and Communications.