We’re very grateful to Emma Will, a 2013 alumni of our summer volunteer program in India for high school students, for sharing this video. A senior at The Prairie School in Racine, Wisconsin, Emma and her fellow group members ride camels through the desert, dance to traditional music, teach English with our Indian friends, and explore the incredible landscapes of south Asia. Enjoy!
In celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday, we put together this list of 15 of our favorite Putney feasts from programs around the world. Food is an invaluable way to experience a culture, and our programs pride themselves on exploring the act of harvesting, preparing, and enjoying local food! Our very best as you gather with loved ones and enjoy your very own feast this Thanksgiving.
1. The gentlemen on our summer program in Cambodia enjoy a local delicacy.
2. Students on our high school farm to table program in Italy learn to farm, harvest, prepare, and enjoy the culinary treasure of Tuscany.
3. Our volunteer program in Ghana for high school students features fresh fruits and veggies at nightly meals.
4. A Spanish feast or tapas, paella, or gazpacho can be enjoyed in a restaurant, a city plaza, or in the high mountain pastures of Los Picos de Europa. Just ask the students on our high school language program in Spain.
5. Students on our summer language trip in France sample snails, pastries, and crepes!
6. Chopsticks in hand, our community service program in Vietnam sits down to a delicious Vietnamese feast.
7. Students on our Pre-College programs in Europe learn to prepare their own local favorites.
8. A traditional Fijian barbecue is a community event for our summer volunteer program in the South Pacific.
9. Our middle school summer program in Costa Rica concludes with a sunset feast on the sandy shores of Guanacaste.
10. This student from our middle school summer program in Spain savors frilled octopus.
11. Our summer volunteer program in Ecuador for high school students coincides with Inti Raymi, an indigenous festival of the harvest.
12. Students on our summer community service trip to Peru sit down for meals in the center of town.
13. Our cultural exploration program in Switzerland, Italy, France, and Holland enjoys a smorgasbord of European culinary adventures.
14. Pre-College at Amherst College students enjoy some New England summer classics.
15. Our summer language trip to Costa Rica learns to stir the cauldron for this Tico feast.
It’s November here at the Putney Barn, and snow is in the air. We are busier than ever. This week we had a “U.F.V.” Around the Putney Barn that stands for Unanticipated Family Visit, when an alumni family navigates the 6 miles of bumpy dirt road from Putney village and manages to find us to stop in and say hello. In this case it was the Cammisa family, from Middletown, CT. Christine participated in Putney’s Language Learning Spain program last summer. She and her parents, Peter and Denise, brother Andrew, and the family dog were on their way back from a college visit in Vermont.
It was great to chat with the Cammisa’s and to hear Christine talk about how much she loved her Spain program, how she remains in touch with the students and leaders, and the Spaniards she met along the way. The Cammisas stumbled on Putney when another summer program had cancelled a Spain program on Christine. She got the last spot in our group, and considers herself lucky. The Cammisas spoke about their appreciation of the structure of the Putney program, the very fact that almost all of Christine’s time in Spain was filled with organized activities. She said her experience with Putney stood in stark contrast to those of friends who traveled with other organizations and found themselves with too much free time, wandering the towns and cities of Spain on their own.
We at Putney believe strongly that teenagers need structure, that they are a terrific resource of creativity and adventure when engaged. We believe in giving students responsibility and the freedom to contribute to the outcome of the program, but we help them to do it with high expectations and a large safety net.
In our sixth decade under the direction of my family, Putney sticks to its core values of experiential learning through meaningful interaction with the communities we visit. There are many things we are not: our catalog isn’t the size of a coffee-table book, our full time staff are practitioners of experiential education, not MBA’s, and the stories we share on the blog, on Facebook, and in our newsletters are not the creation of an outside marketing firm. What we are is a small, passionate team with over 100 years of collective experience at Putney, and we know how to engage students, to capture their curiosity, to facilitate their success and discoveries, and to do it off the beaten track where tourists don’t go. We don’t cycle high volumes of students through the same setting (even though that might be easier and more comfortable,) but instead relish the unique opportunity to introduce small groups of students to extraordinary people in interesting places with whom we have special relationships.
As we enter our 63rd year, we are forever grateful to you for sharing these experiences with us. We’ve restructured our Pre-College offerings this year to empower students with more choice when customizing their summer, expanded our writing programs with Writing in Prague, and created new programs in Belize, Thailand, Costa Rica, Australia, and Ecuador. Please be in touch to request our catalog featuring student photography or to schedule a meeting with one of our directors in your area as we travel this winter. Most important, please stop by as the Cammisas did and inspire us with the stories of your Putney adventures. We have a bottle of Vermont maple syrup waiting for you!
Thanks and our very best to you and your family,
Check out our general Putney Student Travel video, featuring interviews with students, leaders, and Directors Jeff and Peter Shumlin.
Brian Hoyer, who led our 2013 summer public health program in Rwanda, was recently dispatched to the Philippines to take on relief responsibilities after Typhoon Haiyan. Brian is the Director of Post-Emergency Programs for AmeriCares, a non-profit emergency response and global health organization. His team operates entirely in the health sector and they are currently in phase one of their response, working with local partners to deliver essential medicines and emergency family kits. Click here to learn more about AmeriCares’s response efforts in the Philippines and donate to their cause. Brian Hoyer studied International Studies, African Studies, and Anthropology at Middlebury College and has a MPH from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. He has also earned his Diploma in International Humanitarian Assistance from the Institute for International Humanitarian Affairs, and has managed in-country relief efforts in response to Hurricane Katrina and major earthquakes in Haiti, China, and Pakistan. Click here to read his full bio.
Congratulations to Hannah Nohstadt, a 2013 alumni of our high school community service program in Peru, for winning this year’s Putney Student Travel Instagram Contest! Hannah (@hannahnohs_that) took the photo with the most ‘likes’ using the hashtag #putneystudenttravel, and we awarded her $100 to be donated to a charity of her choice. Hannah chose Los Niños Primero, an education program for at-risk Latino pre-schoolers in Sandy Springs, Georgia. Hannah, who lives in Atlanta and attends Riverwood High School, has been volunteering with Los Niños Primero for two years. Check out the photo below, along with our four questions with Hannah.
1) What memories stand out most in your mind when you look back on your summer in Peru?
Whenever I look back on my experiences from my Putney trip to Peru, all I can think about are the smiles and joy in the children’s faces and the community of Piscacucho that we were able to serve and create such a close bond with. I look back at beautiful, rich land Cusco holds as I stand over Machu Picchu on the mountain, Waynapichu. After everything we explored, I can say that I will never forget our stay in Piscacucho. The children made me so happy and I know that if I ever return to Cusco, I will go back to Pisca to see my little munchkins again! They will forever hold a place in my heart!
2) How do you feel the experience has effected you?
The experience this Putney trip has given me is indescribable. I cannot put into words how unbelievably mind-altering and breathtaking it was. I have reflected almost every day on the trip and all the lessons I have learned, not only about Peru, and my Putney family, but also about myself. I am able to piece together in my mind and distinguish the issues of the world today as a whole and in my own life. This experience has extended my world perspective and reminded me of all the great characteristics of the world and its people.
3) Can you talk a little bit about Los Niños Primero, the organization to which you are donating your winnings?
For the past 5 years, I have been working at Los Niños Primero and have recently become an ambassador of the program. This program helps the “at risk” Latinos of the Sandy Springs community of Atlanta, Georgia, to learn the basic fundamentals that most of their parents cannot provide them with due to the language barrier. We serve children from ages 3-7 and teach them what they need to know as they make their way either into the next grade level or into their first day of real school. We conduct a three-week summer program for the kids, Monday through Friday, 8am-2:30pm, and continue a year-round schedule every other Saturday as they continue to practice the skills we taught them over the summer. We tested the children of each grade level before their participation in the program, and we were then able to compare test scores post-program, and were able to see dramatic improvements in their reading, writing, spelling and spelling skills. The schools these children feed into, such as Heards Ferry Elementary, Highpoint, and Lake Forest, have thanked the LNP program for the outstanding contribution to their students well-being – they are now on track and ready to prepare for their future! You can see their website here.
4) Do you have any advice for students preparing for their first Putney program?
⁃ Before you choose a program, make sure you are choosing it for the right reasons! When and if you choose to go on a community service trip, realize that it is hard work and you need to be ready for action from day one to the final day!
⁃ Make sure to pack everything Putney has given you for the packing list! It’s there for a reason!
⁃ Make sure to start off right with group! Don’t be afraid to be yourself and start creating a close bond with the other students as soon as you see them!
⁃ Always do what you can do for others. Be friendly. Be generous. Be the best YOU!
Brian Staveley, who taught Creative Writing and Medieval History on our Pre-College Oxford and Pre-College Tuscany programs, has a debut novel of epic proportions hitting the press in January with fantasy publishing giant Tor. Brian, who taught at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, MA, holds a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and an MFA from Boston University. His novel, The Emperor’s Blades, is generating some serious buzz and can be pre-ordered here. Tor is also releasing the first seven chapters online for free. Congratulations to Brian and happy reading to everyone who checks it out!
Putney Student Travel leaders and Putney Pre-College instructors come from all walks of life. They distinguish themselves in fields ranging from the arts and athletics to journalism, law, medicine, and international development. Collectively, our leaders from Summer 2013 held degrees from over 100 different colleges and universities, with 53 percent of our leaders currently holding graduate degrees or enrolled in postgraduate study. Scroll down to see the top 10 colleges and universities from which our 2013 summer leaders have earned the greatest number of degrees. We’re not listing all alumni from these colleges because we’d run out of room, but you can read all leader bios here! Spots 11-20 are occupied by University of Vermont, Harvard University, Duke University, Brown University, University of Washington, Boston College, Boston University, Yale University, St. Lawrence University, and Cornell University.
10. Hamilton College - Hamilton graduates led programs for us this summer in Costa Rica, Tanzania, and Spain!
9. Northwestern University - Our leaders for the 2013 programs Community Service Dominica, Pre-College at Amherst College, and Language Learning Argentina all studied at Northwestern. Longtime Pre-College director Tom Kane did as well!
8. New York University - Our 2013 leaders from NYU have studied Cultural Anthropology, Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies, Media Communications, and Spanish Literature.
7. Kenyon College - Represented this year by Associate Director and Foundations Spain leader Troy Shaheen, Foundations Costa Rica leader Mac Woods, Community Service Rwanda leader Ted Samuel, and longtime assistant director of our Pre-College programs Erika Prahl.
6. Dartmouth College - Nearby Dartmouth College has long supplied Putney Student Travel with excellent summer leaders. Associate Director Alex Bodel is an alum, as is long time Pre-College Madrid and Pre-College Barcelona Director Schuyler Hedstrom. Our 2013 Global Action in India and Pre-College Oxford and Pre-College Tuscany programs were co-led by Dartmouth grads as well!
4. University of Wisconsin, Madison – This Midwestern contingent has established quite a foothold in the Putney Student Travel family. Associate Director Maggie Strassman is an alum, as well 2013 Cultural Exploration Europe leader Jarell Skinner-Roy, among others.
3. University of Massachusetts, Amherst – We’ve been running our Pre-College at Amherst College program for 19 years now, and have long turned to a diverse array of local graduates and graduate students to help create the magic year after year.
2. Columbia University – Our 2013 leaders hold undergraduate degrees from Columbia, as well as graduate degrees in Education, Public Health, and Fine Arts.
1. Middlebury College – Middlebury and Putney Student Travel share a reputation for stellar language programs, a broad world-view, and a devotion to the Green Mountain State. Many Middlebury grads lead Putney programs every year, several have worked full time here in the Putney Barn (Jim Olivier and Tim Weed!), and Putney Co-Director Jeff Shumlin’s daughter will start her freshman year there this winter!
Caitlin Karna, a senior at Ursuline Academy in Dallas, TX, traveled with us on our 2013 summer language immersion program in Costa Rica. She recently got in touch with us with some inspiring words and a terrific video from the summer. Check it out:
Hi! I just wanted to share a video I made as I was reminiscing about my awesome trip to Costa Rica this past summer. On the last night when we all were sitting in a circle in one of the hotel rooms, everyone said how the trip changed them. I had said that it was a highlight of my life and I can’t reiterate that enough. I became the best version of myself and was truly able to understand how being immersed in another beautiful culture can help open your eyes and appreciate the world. I have discovered travel to be a true passion of mine and next year when I head to college, I plan to follow an International Affairs-related career so I can foster my love for culture. Thank you, Putney, for such an incredible experience!
Safe travels to Erika, who is hitting the road today on a four month journey to visit schools across the country. Keep an eye out for her and get in touch to schedule a school visit, home visit, or group presentation! Click here to see a list of slideshow presentations in your area.