How it Works

How it Works


Steamboat Mountain School’s Global Immersion Studies program (GIS) challenges students to broaden their global perspective and deepen their understanding of diverse cultures while they learn about themselves and their own culture. The program introduces the possibilities and responsibilities of travel. We believe that once experience has grown past that of a single culture, the capacity of an enlightened perspective on human-kind develops and opportunities for personal growth and understanding flourish. We encourage each student to acquire a thoughtful and generous vision of his or her role as an active citizen of the world, and ask that all students seek to become their best self by opening their minds and hearts to the world around them.

Each year small groups, approximately ten students and two faculty leaders, depart for one of four destinations. All of the trips are guided by sound practical and academic information and principles of responsible travel. Steamboat Mountain School travel groups support local economies whenever possible and seek out meaningful interactions with the people they visit. All trips include home stays where students are immersed with families and the culture that surrounds them. Students live, eat, and work with local families. Additionionally, groups engage in community service, typically working side by side with community members on a project that supports the local community. Groups have helped harvest crops, build schools, clean water systems, build toilets, and create pathways. Painting, planting, and teaching English are also popular sources of service contributions. We value experiences that give us an opportunity to work and play with the people we are visiting. These opportunities enhance our understanding and change the boundaries of the world we once knew.
Travels have taken group members to Mongolia, Morocco, Senegal, Vietnam and Cambodia, China, Ecuador, Tanzania, India, Greece, Russia, and beyond. All told, the school has visited 55 countries with students.

Starting in November, Tuesday afternoons, students meet with teachers and guest speakers to learn about current events, religion, politics, global economics, cultural awareness, history, language, and social and environmental issues. On Wednesdays, during the weekly 2 hour GIS meetings, GIS leaders expand upon the discussions from the Tuesday class session, work with the students to strengthen the group, or teach savvy travel, safety concerns, medical and health information, risk mitigation, and practical information so that students are well educated, and well prepared for their journey to assure that they understand what it means to be a responsible traveler and a global citizen.

Students are not graded for their involvement in the travel program; rather, they become engaged thinkers and doers who learn about life, living, and giving. Once on the trip, faculty and student groups travel humbly in order to align themselves with the people of the country they are visiting. Our groups strive to minimize negative impacts on local communities, resources, and the natural environment. We do not travel like tourists – we experience first-hand how people from different countries live. 
Perspective is gained. Learning is expanded. The discovery of responsibility to self, others, and the world around them becomes deeply planted in the minds and hearts of our students.

Steamboat Mountain School's Global Immersion Study Program brings a wealth of experience to students and a sense that they are members of a world community.

Students return from the GIS trips having learned many lessons. While all have expanded their worldview in some way, their experiences are uniquely their own. For some, the most significant experience is communicating in a language they have practiced only in the classroom. For others, building relationships and making friends whose lives differ from their own create an understanding of what it means to be a global citizen. Some discover that vision of a better future is shared by the masses and many believe that education is the key to a brighter future. For some, physically demanding adventure is challenging. Home-stays require that we remove ourselves from our comfort zone and, faced with the unknown, this cultivates a greater sense of one’s abilities.

Whatever their story, students return knowing more about themselves and the world around them. They return speaking of their discoveries with both authority and a sense of awe. The adventure of travel opens the door to a new way of seeing the world and one’s place in it.