Valued Voices
Exciting Choices

Students in Belize

Many Norfolk Academy students traveled the globe this summer, gaining valuable learning experiences and collaborating to help the communities they were visiting.

Roughly 100 students journeyed through the Batten Leadership Program’s Fellows Program. Their destinations included South America, Central America, and locations around the United States. In addition, the school's International Programs took about 75 students to China, Italy and other destinations abroad.

The trips gave students, who ranged in age from Middle School to rising Upper School senior, hands-on experiences. They learned to adapt and think on the fly. They also expanded their appreciation for the importance of voluntary service.

As an example, 17 students went in June to Belize - a country on the eastern side of Central America that borders Mexico and Guatemala - through the Batten Leadership Program's Global Health Fellows. This program has built a year's long partnership with the Global Public Service Academy, which in conjunction with Duke and other universities offers students opportunities to improve public health outcomes in resource-limited communities.

For several months before their journey, the students studied current events in foreign countries and how those nations address health issues. By conducting numerous community needs assessments in past years and in consultation with partners on the ground in Belize, students generated ideas for how they could make a long-term and sustainable positive impact once in Belize.

“We were immersing the students in what global health is,” said Sarah Goodson, Director of the Global Health Fellows Program.

This particular set of community identified projects focused on helping children in the country: How to use technology for research; education about sexual health topics like puberty; and habits to promote good nutrition and fitness.

Things didn’t go exactly as planned, though. For instance, children struggled to understand the initial technology lessons, but the Fellows improvised, adding hands-on tasks that allowed the youngsters to do more Internet searches on their own.

That exercise taught Connor Tiffany ’20 how to think on his feet. It also gave him newfound appreciation for his own teachers at Academy.

“It’s a lot more difficult than people think,” Tiffany said.

During their trip, our Fellows shared two books on puberty that they had written. They offered tips about how to maintain a healthy diet. They also worked with community health workers to conduct home health care visits in rural communities, in many cases engaging with families who rarely have access to testing that many take for granted, like blood pressure, blood glucose, and vitals.

In addition to their projects, students traveled and saw historic sites like Mayan ruins. They also lived with host families, gaining a real-life look at the culture.

At the end of the trip the children the Norfolk Academy students taught received certificates, signifying all they learned. Seeing their joy was a highlight for Julia Duarte ’20.

“I’m proud of the fact that they retained information,” Duarte said.

Here’s a look at other summer trips:

International Programs

Outreach360 to the Dominican Republic: June 8-15. Nineteen students; faculty leaders: Ms. Caroline Bisi, Mr. Kevin Denson, and Dr. John Lindbeck.

Odyssey: Southern Italy and Sicily, June 8-19. Eighteen students; faculty leaders and partners: Ms. Heidi Pollio, Dr. David Pollio, and Mr. Matt Wilkens.

London STEAM: May 29-June 5. Twelve students; faculty leaders: Ms. Lisa Marie Priddy, Mr. Ryan Tucker, and Mr. Knox Garvin.

Short-term German exchange: June 9-30. Twelve students; faculty leaders: Mr. William Mogen and Ms. Margaret Marshall.

China Program: June 7-29. Twelve students; faculty leaders: Dr. Natasha Naujoks and Mr. Matt Robertson.

Long-term Spanish exchange at St. George’s College: Argentina, June 6-July 4. Three students.

Batten Leadership Program Fellows

Global Health ’20, ’21 and ’22 Fellows: Raleigh, North Carolina, July 30-August 3. Seventeen students; faculty leaders: Ms. Sarah Goodson, Ms. Price Hall, and Ms. Yonne Nasimiyu.

Global Affairs Fellows: Peru, July 16-23. Sixteen students; faculty leaders: Mr. Jack Gibson, Dr. Natasha Naujoks, and Mr. Michael Hurley.

Literacy ’20 and ’21 Fellows: New York City, August 2-6. Twelve students; faculty leaders: Dr. David Kidd and Ms. Charlotte Zito.

Chesapeake Bay ’20 and ’21 Fellows: Maine, July 22-29. Eleven students; faculty leaders: Mr. Chris Nelson, Ms. Catherine McCallum, and Ms. Eliza Williams.

Engineering, Design and Innovation ’20 and ’21 Fellows: California, July 15-19. Ten students; faculty leaders: Dr. Robert Call and Dr. Tenaya Vallery.

Chesapeake Bay ’22 Fellows: Fox Island, Virginia, August 1-3. Six students; faculty leaders: Mr. Chris Nelson and Ms. Catherine McCallum.

EDI ’22 Fellows: Kiptopeke, Virginia, June 9-13. Six students; faculty leaders: Dr. Robert Call and Dr. Tenaya Vallery.

Literacy ’22 Fellows: Portland, Oregon, June 11-16. Five students; faculty leaders: Dr. David Kidd and Ms. Eliza Williams.

Additional Photos

Students in Belize
Students in Germany, summer 2019.