Hear from our students and their families.

The Mensik Family, Chicago, IL

Siblings Jack and Kristina have both participated in Putney’s Global Awareness in Action programs; Jack traveled to El Salvador in 2008 and Kristina traveled to Rwanda in 2011. Here are what parents Michael and Marguerite had to say about their experiences:

“Our children have participated in a wide variety of travel programs in their high school years but the Putney Global Awareness In Action programs really are in a class of their own. Both of our children returned from these trips with a very changed perspective of the world.”


Katie Pinkas, Shaker Heights, OH

Katie, a senior at Hathaway Brown School, spent last summer on Putney’s Community Service Nusa Penida program, where she and her peers built an out-building for the banjar complex, which is the seat of local government, and also worked with children at the primary school. She is the fifth of her siblings to participate in a Putney trip. Robbie went to the Dominican Republic, and Callie, Benny, and Lissa each did Language Learning France programs.

“This trip was an incredible experience and surpassed my expectations. I loved the group and the leaders and I loved the community of Nusa Penida. I really loved scuba diving, the afternoon excursions, especially to the waterfall and Mantas Point. I also really liked doing the Independent Student Projects and being able to do pig raising/feeding and cooking. I learned Indonesian phrases working closely with the community and found I could connect with them working in smaller groups. I liked working on the shower because we had a final product at the end of the trip and that was rewarding.”


Keenen Willis, Scarsdale, NY

Keenen, a junior at Scarsdale Alternative School, traveled to France with Putney’s Language Learning program last summer. His older brother Zack went on the same program in 2002, and sister Maddi participated in our Theatre in Britain program in 2007.

Keenan, left, enjoys a stop at Strasbourg Cathedral with his French host sister and a fellow Putney student.

“I expected to improve my French, experience French culture, and make new friends, and that all happened and more! It was awesome to be able to talk to local people and have them understand me. It was such a great sense of accomplishment when my host sister told me that she was impressed how I was able to talk relatively fast and be able to understand. Personally, I gained a lot of confidence in not only French but in general. Thank you Putney for a great summer that I’ll never forget!”


The Ristuccia Family, Basking Ridge, NJ

Annie, now a freshman at NYU, participated in four Putney programs. She traveled to Ghana, Ecuador, Tanzania, and Vietnam on community service trips. Her younger brother, Paul, went on his first Putney program last summer to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. Read what their parents, Paula and Henry, have to say about their experiences:

“Thanks for everything – four summers of profound experiences have undoubtedly shaped the direction of Annie’s future as she heads to NYU for a career in Public Health. Besides seeing new cultures, Paul was challenged to step out of his comfort zone. We knew Putney could have a life changing effect on him and sure enough, people said he came home like a different person. It was a wonderful experience for him.”


Julia Ofman, Brooklyn, NY

Julia, a senior at LaGuardia High School, traveled with the Global Awareness in Action India program where she and her peers studied Community Building and Sustainable Development in the country’s environmentally fragile Ladakh region.

“I came into the program hoping to learn about India, the world, and ultimately, about myself. I took away several life lessons that have drastically altered my views on all of the above. I am more mature and well-rounded as a person and a traveler.”


Kevin and Emily Doyle, Fairfield, CT

Siblings, Kevin and Emily, have both participated in Putney’s Global Action Malawi program. Kevin also traveled on Putney’s Community Service program to Senegal.

It is impossible to spend time in Africa and not be affected by the people you meet. The experience demands that you look at the world in a much more global way. On our trips, we saw firsthand the problems that exist and how everyone could and should make a difference. We wanted to help increase awareness of these problems in our hometown so we formed the Student Refugee Alliance. After two successful fundraising events over the last year, we both plan to take SRA to our colleges in the fall and expand the membership to students around the world.”


Cameron Pulley, McLean, VA

Cameron, a junior at Langley High School, spent a summer in Costa Rica participating in the Language Learning program based in the southern part of the country.

“Since the program immerses you so thoroughly, it is impossible not to improve greatly in speaking and comprehension. The local people were very welcoming and willing to talk with us in Spanish. Also, within the Putney group, we grew very close and definitely became a family by the end of the trip.”


Tracey and Jeff Diamond, Westfield, NJ

Tracey and Jeff’s daughter Amie, a student at Union County Academy for Performing Arts, traveled on Putney’s Excel Pre-college Experience in Madrid and Barcelona. Amie enrolled in the Travel Photography and Spanish language seminars.

“Amie had an unbelievable experience and summer. She said the leaders were wonderful, and the activities and choices the same. She made some very good friends, experienced new food, exposure to art, dance, music, outdoor sports, etc. that she had not previously been exposed to. One of the reasons we selected Putney over other programs was because the program was structured. It’s good to have some free time in the afternoon, but we liked that they were supervised in the evenings.”


Joel & Susie Carp, Dallas TX

Joel and Susie’s daughter Samantha, a student at Greenhill School, traveled to Argentina with our Community Service program.

Samantha spends time with local high school students during a karaoke night organized by the school's faculty.

Samantha thoroughly enjoyed her Putney summer in Argentina. The group leaders were experienced and organized, and she really enjoyed their leadership. Samantha learned so much from them, and from the other kids in the group. The group was made up of such interesting and diverse students, and she gained so much from their companionship. She gained confidence in her ability to travel, work hard, and make the most of new experiences and friendships. Her Spanish is much improved and she is more willing to speak it back in the U.S. She loved the kids in the village and learned so much from helping them. Some of the more difficult aspects of the trip—i.e. only bringing one backpack, sleeping on floor, climbing a mountain—were her favorite experiences.”


Emily Blau, Oakwood School, Encino, CA

Emily is a three time Putney alum, traveling with Community Service Dominica in 2008, Community Service Senegal in 2009, and with Community Service Nusa Penida in 2010.


Emily with the group's cook, Nusa Penida, Indonesia.




“I just wanted to thank Putney for giving me three amazing summers. You all have changed me in ways that I cannot describe and you have prepared me for the world. Through Putney, I have learned confidence and skills; I have made friends and memories; I even learned French. I cannot say it enough but thank you, thank you, thank you! Putney will always have a special place in my heart and hopefully I will get a chance to be a part of the Putney community when I get older.”


Patty Sacks, New York, NY

Patty Sacks, her two siblings, and her three daughters, Olivia, Elizabeth, and Haley, are all Putney alumi. Patty describes a summer with Putney as a ‘rite of passage’ in her family.

“When our daughters traveled with Putney far away from home, we were confident that they would join exceptional groups of peers. The other students came from different geographical areas, the group was not ‘cliquey,’ and the leaders were extraordinarily talented and charismatic people. Everything was handled with great attention to detail. Olivia is now at Dartmouth, itching to return to Africa, Elizabeth is at Colgate, helping out in the local community, and Haley is a freshman in college, planning a Peace Corps experience after graduation. Putney had the same effect on me a generation ago—after returning from my Putney programs in France, Scandinavia, and Russia, I kept in touch with the friends I made and studied Russian in college.”

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