Global experiences enrich summer break

Sean Ericson

Tucked in a warm, two-story house in the residential part of Cuernavaca, Mexico, Sean Ericson ‘16 spent five weeks of his summer pursuing linguistic and cultural fluency.

In this five-person family’s home, Ericson experienced traditional food, lively discussion, and a “great atmosphere.” This homestay, along with a classroom experience, made the trip as impactful as it was. Ericson says himself that “the cultural integration was the most essential part of the experience, without which the academic component would be significantly weakened.”

The school’s mission for a global education is embodied in this trip. School programs are meant to develop “cultural competence, awareness of global issues, facility in other languages, and social conscience.”

While Ericson’s language skills improved from his daily classes, “the single best indicator of [his] progress in learning Spanish was [his] ability to carry on an everyday conversation.” These conversations were facilitated out in the city, in his homestay, and with locals, modeling a direct engagement with a new culture.

Further, these encounters showed Ericson what is was like to feel like a foreigner; whether it was looking different or sounding different, Ericson remarks that he found value in feeling what it was like “not [to be] a part of the standard landscape.”

Ericson’s experience, while academically enriching, found its deeper importance in the cultural engagement that came along with the more traditional learning. The culture of Cuernavaca shaped his stay, and just as it defined over a month of his summer, it has also left a deeper imprint on his cultural comprehension and integration skills.