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Batten Leadership Program Summer Experiential Learning Student Blog

Batten Leadership Program Fellows programs will travel this summer, gaining experiential learning experiences along the way. 

The leadership program aims to develop civic-minded, socially aware and active leaders. Students regularly reach out into the community to gain knowledge through service projects. Students apply in ninth grade and are involved throughout Upper School.

Chesapeake Bay Fellows, Global Affairs Fellows, Global Health Fellows, and Literacy Fellows all leave in mid-June. Students will be sharing their experiences here:

Friday, June 14

Cana '25, Global Affairs Fellows in Peru: We met our friends from Andean Alliance at the airport and drank coca tea to help us acclimate to the altitude roughly 11,000 feet above sea level. Then, we all squeezed into a van for the hour and a half ride to the town of Calca. Once there, we met the rest of our AASD partners who served us a delicious Peruvian lunch of lomo saltado, queso, and mixed veggies. In groups of 4-5 people, we then toured the main plazas of Calca, enjoying rolled ice cream, stopping in stores, and watching traditional Peruvian celebrations in the town square. To finish the night, we bonded as a group, eating a Peruvian dinner and sharing our rose and thorns for the day. We are excited for our first full day of activities tomorrow!

Saturday, June 15

Julia '26, Global Affairs Fellows: After an extensive orientation, we broke into groups and went on a scavenger hunt to get better acquainted in the town of Calca. Next up was a trip to the Ecohuella farm, which included the lettuce patch, seed storage room, and guinea pig pen. We then watched a screening of Opening the Earth: The Potato King Documentary. We then got to talk to one of the directors of the film, Aaron Ebner, and learned about the farming practices of harvesting the potatoes, and some of the challenges. We then drove to Urco jewelry making. Each of us were helped by a resident who helped us craft a string bracelet and a Peruvian silver ring. It was a great opportunity to exercise our Spanish skills, and was fun to interact and talk with them about their lives. After we finished, we went to an archaeological site. There we saw an old Incan hut and walked through the ruins. It had great views of the mountain as well.

Sunday, June 16

Ella '26, Global Affairs Fellows: Day 2 in Peru was a busy one. We started with an earlier wake up so that we could head to Pampacoral, a remote village in the Andes Mountains. After a windy drive through the mountains with plenty of beautiful views and visits from alpacas, donkeys, and farm dogs, we arrived at the house of Julio Hancco. We were instantly greeted with hugs and welcomes, as well as ponchos, skirts, and tea to help us warm up and acclimate to the high altitude. Julio Hancco, also known as the Potato King, is a potato farmer in the mountains and is an expert both in the biodiversity of potatoes and the culture of Andean farming communities. We were able to ask him questions and listen to him explain his lifestyle, farming techniques, potato varieties, and beliefs. We were also able to observe a pachamanca, a traditional Incan style of cooking food underground, and tried potatoes prepared using this method. Our lunch was made by Julio’s family, and included a potato dish, guacamole, rice, and omelets. Next, we headed to Lares to visit thermal bathes. A couple swam, while others hiked around the surrounding area. We are excited about tomorrow’s coffee workshop.

Monday, June 17

Zach '25 and Caroline '26, Chesapeake Bay Fellows in Maine: After arriving, we met the Upstream Alliance group that will work with us. After our first paddle, 2 miles to our campsite, we set up camp. We compared what we saw last year in the Chesapeake Bay to what we are seeing now. We had a delicious dinner, which was made by Olivia from Upstream Alliance and our own Fellows. After dinner, we explored until we had a meeting with everyone to discuss our next day and the trip as a whole.

Jude '25, EDI Fellows in Utah: For our first stop of the trip, we visited the Purple Dream Lab, which focuses on research and development for the mattress company Purple. Being given safety glasses and vests, we were able to tour almost the entire facility. First, we talked with employees who explained to us how they use pressure points and sensors to give us better sleep. Next, we saw their milling and molding machines that enabled them to create their own prototypes. Third, we visited their testing facility and were able to see their machines that put their mattresses to all sorts of stress. Fourth, we toured the facilities that experimented with new chemical polymers and mixtures. Finally, we even got to create our own mattress using their foams and gels. Our second stop of the day and of the trip was at Pleasant Green Park. At the local park was a public art installation by Karl Hale, who was previously a software engineer. He explained to us how he used his prior knowledge of math and science and his fascination with simple patterns that occur all around us. His art piece was a flat slab of metal with laser cut simple shapes. The shapes were different types of stars, such as three-pointed, eight-pointed, and five-pointed, surrounded by other shapes that fit together perfectly. He used a slow change of shapes, using different densities to create a wave-like depiction.

Lucy '25, Alexander '25, and Leo '25, Global Health Fellows in Peru: This morning, a few of us woke up early to walk around Calca and by the river. Then, we went on a one-hour drive to Ollantaytambo, a picturesque city nestled in the Andes. The city had been inhabited since the time of the Incan Empire, and we were surrounded by the ruins of buildings and terraces scattered across the mountains. In a moment of remarkable luck, Travis spotted an Andean Condor, a highlight of his birding career. It is the heaviest flying bird in the world. After dropping our bags in our hotel, we walked around the city and saw the ruins of Ollantay’s house. Then, we made our way to the train station for a two-hour ride to Machu Picchu! Once we got there, we split up into two groups and got a guided tour of one of the seven wonders of the world. Machu Picchu is said to have little documentation of the actual history, so our tour guides kept repeating that nothing they said was 100% fact. The site was discovered, on a global stage, around the 1910s. Our guide told us that it is hypothesized that the Inca began construction of Machu Picchu around 1438! Finally, our tour guides pointed out to us the three most prominent mountains surrounding the ruins. One, at 3,000 meters, was Machu Picchu, which translates to old mountain. Another, at 2,700 meters, was called Huayna Picchu. The last Putucusi, obscured by clouds, was farther in the distance and towered at a height of 3,300 meters. We are looking forward to a hike around Ollantayambo tomorrow and a visit to a Hummingbird Sanctuary.

Aditya '26, Global Affairs Fellows: Today started off with a 5 AM wake up for a hike to watch the sunrise. We hiked up a steep trail and saw a beautiful, but cloudy, view of the city and mountains. We then walked to AASD, where Mr. Luke, General Manager of the Café Orígines, presented us with his business model. From Mr. Luke, we learned about the coffee rating scale, how the price of coffee is impacted by a variety of factors, the rapidly growing issues of the farmers, and ways to create a more sustainable livelihood for them. It was so insightful to see his future plans and how he plans to aid these farmers. We had a delicious goodbye lunch with AASD before driving to a tourism city called Ollantaytambo. To finish the day, we took a two-hour train ride to Aguas Calientes to check in to another hotel. We are all so excited to see Machu Picchu in the morning.

Tuesday, June 18

Olivia '25, EDI Fellows: We started our day at Bingham Canyon Mine, the biggest man-made excavation in the world at more than a mile deep. We learned about the amazing machinery that carries more than 1.3 million pounds of ore on tires 12 feet and 1 inch high. Next, we did a photo contest, looking for applications of art and design around Salt Lake City. After lunch, we traveled to the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, where we received a tour of the different maker spaces, company launch areas, and residential floors. The whole space is designed to encourage entrepreneurship, connection, and innovation by utilizing open layouts, and granting student access to office spaces, woodshops, welding, and 3D printers. The advice for a successful business or project was to just do it, don’t talk around ideas, and make the next steps happen. Lastly, we visited a cutting edge neurotechnology company, Blackrock neurotech. They manufacture and design technology for biomedical and neurological research, including the Utah array that allows for the stimulation and recording of individual neuron signaling, which can greatly help paralyzed patients. The day was filled with amazing tours that showed how businesses are created, run, and can expand to help people.

Claire '25, Global Affairs Fellows: On our final full day, the GAF group ventured to the tourist bus stop and headed to Machu Picchu. Despite the extremely foggy and rainy weather, we had an amazing time exploring the ruins and listening to our tour guides. Everyone’s spirits were especially brightened hearing Andre’s inspirational quotes. After spending about three hours at the site, we headed on the Inca Rail train back to the town of Ollantaytambo. Then, we rode the vans to Cusco, where we quickly got ready for a farewell dinner. After arriving at the restaurant, the group enjoyed spending time together and saying thank you. We are all looking forward to exploring Cusco before we fly out tomorrow.

Ellie '25 and Grady '27, Chesapeake Bay Fellows: We started off with an early morning. It was our first time that we had to pack up camp, a great bonding experience. We then embarked on our 9.1-mile journey to Marshall Island. The trip went by quickly, with lots of laughs and songs and an exciting encounter with seals. We had to have a strategic entrance onto Marshall Island because of the waves and wind. It allowed us to be patient and work with one another. We came to a beautiful, empty beach and began to unload all of our belongings. Compared to the sandy Chesapeake Bay beaches, Maine is filled with rocky, steep islands. We finished the night with another enjoyable hike and a warm fire.

Keese '26 and Wyatt '27, Global Health Fellows: The group started Tuesday with an early hike,  exploring Ollantaytambo. During the hike, we revisited the historic ruins of the Ollantay house. To finish off our morning, the group took a steeper and more eventful hike with our tour guide along one of the many mountains in the area. Next, we spent our afternoon at a hummingbird sanctuary where we learned to appreciate the nature around us. We saw different hummingbirds and distinguished them from each other. A noticeable find was the Giant Hummingbird. To conclude our afternoon, we headed back to Ollantaytambo and visited the 700-year old house of Navbvh. There, we learned about the traditional practices of the people in Ollantaytambo. The foundations are original, but it is a practice to replace the roof once every five years. In the house, there are many preserved, dead animals and skeletons, one of which is the Andean Condor. We are so lucky to be in Peru and immersing ourselves in a culture and history much different than ours. We had a great day together!

Wednesday, June 19

Luisa '27 and Lea '27, EDI Fellows: Today we visited the Space Dynamics Laboratory, three labs at Utah State University, and a Water Research Lab. At the Space Dynamics Laboratory, we got to look at and learn about different projects that are used for space, air, and cyber security. We then went to the Physics lab, Robotics lab, and a clean room at Utah State. We looked at tools that are going to be used in a spacecraft, learned about how robots are designed after animals, and received life advice from a teacher of Dr. Call. The Water Research Lab taught us about the harmful microplastics that contaminate water and their methods to combat harmful algae blooms. To finish out our day, we went on a 6-mile hike up to a waterfall.

Shuchi '25 and Genevieve '25, Global Health Fellows: Today we remained in Ollantaytambo, staying within city limits yet connecting far and wide with rural communities outside. We visited Sacred Valley Health; their mission is to educate the high-altitude communities of Peru on sustainable nutritional and hygienic practices with a culturally sensitive approach. We watched a demonstration of an in-house visit orchestrated by a community health worker who provides preventative teaching. We also learned how to transport the injured or ill by using materials readily available to make a stretcher or a seat. Members of high-altitude communities must travel long distances to reach medical care. The greatest takeaway was the cultural appreciation and the understanding that, for as much as we have to offer them, they have just as much to teach us. This afternoon we headed to Calca to prepare for a visit to a high-altitude community in Q'enqo. We ended the night with a friendly game of fútbol, a shared meal together, and thoughtful reflection on purpose and passion.

Thursday, June 20

Lincoln '25, EDI Fellows: Today, the EDI Fellows had three amazing places that we got to visit and learn about. We began our day by going to the College of Engineering at Utah State University. To start, we got to do fun brain games and quickly put together a presentation on the Oceangate fiasco from a year ago. Next, we were given a tour of the maker spaces that USU has to offer. The Idea Lab boasts a whole suite of cool machines like CNC mills, laser engravers, and an entire wall housing a rack of Prusa 3D printers. We then ventured into the metal working shop, where we got to see more interesting saws, machines, and welding equipment. Then we went back to the College of Engineering to hear from a panel of engineers, professors, and counselors about important points that we as high school students should understand when coming to college and choosing a career path. We rounded off the trip to USU by meeting the Get Away Special team, which builds, and has built for over 50 years, satellites that get sent into space to further scientific research. We then ventured to Automated Systems Inc., which takes existing vehicles and upgrades them to allow those vehicles to run autonomously. The company works mostly in the agricultural and mining sectors, but also has done work for the military. We finished the day by visiting Altitude Labs, which is an incubator for medical companies. All in all, this was a wonderful last day to the trip and I can speak for everyone when I say that we have enjoyed it.

 

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