Woodlands Academy provides a Global Odyssey, COVID-19 style

With the usual international travel component not an option this year, Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart is offering its Global Odyssey program – with some other ways of fulfilling its goal of providing every student with an international experience to spark her global curiosity and develop a global competence.

“Almost every class will be utilizing virtual experiences with world-class organizations, trips to local destinations and welcoming expert visitors to campus,” Center for Global Studies Director Jessica Campbell said. “Woodlands Academy’s Global Odyssey 2021 classes are meant to be active, relational and diverse while providing opportunities for discovery. It’s one way that we seek to empower girls to change the world.”

After completing this year’s final exams, students at the all-girls college-prep day-and-boarding high school in Lake Forest will embark on Global Odyssey May 24-27. For example, those participating in “Around the World in 4 Days” will experience four unique global locations – India, Greece, China and Kenya – by immersing themselves for a day in the language, cultural activities, cuisine and other unique features of each country. Along with field trips to the Chinese Cultural Center in Chicago and the Field Museum, they will utilize online resources, film and enjoy the food of each country.

“Latin American Street Art” will explore urban art in South American destinations compared to that of local artists. Participants will learn about internationally renowned street artists in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Bogotá, Colombia. Local resources to be explored include the Museum of Contemporary Art and a walking tour of the Humboldt Park area There also will be some virtual presentations by artists. 

Woodlands Academy students enrolled in “Bread around the World” will get a taste of how bread plays a significant role in the lives people from various cultures, countries and religions. During this hands-on class, each session will feature a different type of bread connected to a country or region of the world. In addition to what students will learn in the classroom about the origins and significance of specific breads, they will spend time in the kitchen experiencing the art and technique of baking them.  

Another class will retrace the Silk Route by focusing on the candy and comedy of three countries. Participants will learn how to make sweets such as Turkish Delight (Turkey), Gulab Jamun (India), and Kohakutou Gummy Crystals (Japan). They will then enjoy these sweets while learning about their history and cultural significance. The class also will learn about different forms of comedy from these countries. A comedy showcase will feature three female comedians performing in-person at the school, seeking to evoke laughter about the ways we are the same and the hilarious ways we are different.

Highlights of other course offerings include a trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden to explore nature and then a stop at a local restaurant to witness a local, sustainable, farm-to-table experience. Students also can avail themselves of various other outdoor adventures, an international film fest and a look at global fashion design.

After completing their Global Odyssey experiences, Woodlands Academy students will participate in Global Voices June 1. They’ll spend the day reflecting on their role as global citizens, engage with virtual speaker Breshna Musazai and partake in other globally-themed activities. Musazai was wounded by the Taliban during a 2016 attack at The American University of Afghanistan, where she was a law student at the time. Now, the Afghani student-turned-activist is working to allow more young people – especially girls – to attend school. 

Meanwhile, planning for next year’s event is already underway with the hope that international travel can once again be a key component.