Cultural Immersion plays a key role in our students’ experiences at New Summit Academy, promoting relationship development, appreciation of others’ cultures and customs, health risk-taking, and reciprocity – so much of what we strive to develop.
One of the most memorable cultural experiences for our students is their participation in the Homestay program, spending Sundays with local families, and joining them in activities ranging from cooking at home to attending soccer games, birthday parties, and afternoons at the beach.
These volunteer families take our students into their homes and lives out of the goodness of their hearts, so our community gives a little bit back to them with our popular Homestay picnics.
This quarter, a summer day in the Caribbean was the theme of the Homestay picnic, complete with team-building games (with lots of water balloons!) fun decorations, music, and a traditional Caribbean lunch of rice and beans cooked in coconut milk!
A key part of NSA’s mission to nurture students toward becoming more relationship-based, goal-driven, resourceful global citizens is the idea of giving back to people and communities. During their stays, our students engage in countless opportunities to give back, from mentoring new students to volunteering at Hogar de Vida.
Our students work side-by-side with the Osa Conservation preserving turtle habitats, beautify local schools, and teach free English lessons in town. And something seems to stick, because our school is lucky enough to have graduates continually expressing that they want to give back by becoming interns, contributing to a program that once guided them.
Read for yourselves from a recent letter written by a 2014 graduate:
I was checking out the NSA website a second ago and felt compelled to email. Partly to thank you and also update you on my life.
I am in my second semester of my sophomore year at UNCW. I am on track to be a Psych Major/Spanish Double and or Minor (depending on the next few semesters). I work in the summers as a surf instructor and the rest of the year as a Manny (male nanny) for a family with a 9 year old boy and a 13 year old boy. I know GPA does not indicate everything but I have a steady 3.0. In July I will study abroad in Port Elizabeth South Africa for the semester.
How is New Summit Academy? Has the profile of students been changing at all? Mike W. and I keep in touch a good deal and he spoke very fondly of his time at NSA, especially working with you. I hope to come back at some point and work with NSA. It says something about the program that some students are compelled to come back and work with the students.
I am very thankful for my experience at NSA. It was an ineffable experience at certain points but my overall feelings remain positive and grateful. Choosing to take a year off was a very hard decision but a pivotal decision that I hold to my identity/sense of self. I always enjoyed talking travel with you and all you encouraged me to do.
I know you are very busy but I thought that I would extend this to you.
This Aventura begins with a 3-day backpacking journey into the chilly cloud forest of Tapanti National Park. On the very first day, after arriving at the park station, the group happened to see a wounded resplendent quetzal being transported to the Zoo Ave sanctuary in Alajuela. Renowned for its vibrant plumage and long streamer tail, the quetzal inhabits the humid highlands of Costa Rica, where protected lands offer this threatened species safe haven.
The experience was the perfect springboard for that day's class on the interconnectedness of cloud forest biomes and human interactions with local species. The class discussion focused on human impacts and important efforts to help rare species like the quetzal.
The trip ended on a high note with two days of adrenaline-pumping rafting on the Class III and IV rapids of the mighty Pacuare River.
Students on the Kayak Aventura found a true sense of cohesion and authenticity as they paddled their way across the glassy waters of the Golfo Dulce.
When they weren't chest-deep in mangrove estuaries for hands-on classes, the guys were catching their dinner (fresh snapper and mackeral!) on handlines as they kayaked through this amazing ecosystem.
Crowning moments included:
Community Service marks the first of NSA's Integrated Aventuras, and with more than half of the student body participating in this initial adventure, this group was amazingly cohesive. Students showed great initiative and cooperation on both an individual and group basis during their week on the Osa Peninsula, where service was aimed at monitoring endangered sea turtle nesting sites and local reforestation efforts.
According to Aventura staff, the guys were consistently engaged in academic lessons, resulting in dynamic conversations.
Aventura highlights included:
New Summit Academy and our Young Adult Bridge Program are collaborating on a presentation at the annual National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) conference in Tucson, Arizona later this month. Executive Director Heather Tracy and Danny Recio, Program Director for the Bridge, are working together to present “To Surf or Not to Surf? The Benefits and Risks of Allowing Internet Use in Therapeutic Programs.”
NSA believes the important, positive identity forming and community building benefits of allowing students to share their experiences and growth online outweigh the risks, and Heather and Danny will be delving into this topic before a gathering of professionals in the industry. NSA is proud to continue sharing our cutting-edge practices to help improve student services in all programs.
Each quarter at New Summit Academy begins with students collaborating with their Individual Goal Planning team to develop goals and steps for success. Students meet one-on-one with advisors to review their SCAFA scores as a foundation for these goals. SCAFA – Self, Community and Future – is NSA’s own student growth tracking system, developed over a decade of working with our students.
Our innovative system uses day-to-day student engagement to measure growth in Relationships, Social Skills, Executive Functioning, Resilience, Identity, and many more areas. This information is converted into goals at the start of each quarter, and Advisors from Academics, Personal Growth and Experiential Education will continually follow up with goals and steps to help ensure student success. What a way to prepare for the first day of classes!
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