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Foreign Exchange programs cancelled

Olivia '19, Caroline '19 and Joely '19 stand in the Place des Vosges in Les Marais, Paris, on a Marlborough foreign exchange trip. Photo by Olivia '19.
Olivia ’19, Caroline ’19 and Joely ’19 stand in the Place des Vosges in Les Marais, Paris, on a Marlborough foreign exchange trip. Photo by Olivia ’19.

Assistant Head of Academics and Director of Upper School Laura Hotchkiss ’86 and Director of Finance and Operations Nick Hernandez announced on Saturday, Sept. 24 that the School would put international trips on hold because of safety concerns. Although the Argentinian exchange will be running, no other international trips will be offered through Marlborough this year.

While the biennial French foreign exchange program does not run until next year, the Argentinian exchange program will run as it has for the past four years. In previous years, too few Marlborough students have been willing to travel to China for foreign exchange, so Marlborough will continue to only host Chinese students.

Last year, the planned trips to Belize and Costa Rica were cancelled over fears of possible exposure to the Zika virus. Likewise, a Cuba exchange program that was going to be offered this year was recently cancelled due to similar fears. 

Assistant Division Director and Dean of Student Life Regina Rosi and Hotchkiss are concentrating on reducing the risk of sending students abroad.

“We are reevaluating our international travel program. We as a school are taking a pause as the health and safety of our students and chaperones abroad is really paramount,” Rosi said.

Rosi said that she encourages students to continue their foreign travels on their own and encouraged students to partake in study or travel abroad programs.

Rosi said the number of Marlborough students who partake in foreign exchange programs is approximately 14 students annually.

The trips are also a large financial burden to cater to so few students. Hernandez and Hotchkiss said they are wary of the expensive financial support needed to continue the number of foreign exchange programs that Marlborough currently offers. Rosi said that she believes that the school can better utilize local resources that are available in Los Angeles as educational tools. With the exception of the grade-wide field trip downtown in 7th Grade, Marlborough offers no other grade-wide field trips other than beginning-of-school retreats and the Hawaii trip senior year. Rosi is looking for local educational and cultural opportunities to expose students to new cultures and ideas.

There are other opportunities that are worth exploring that are just a bit closer to home and offer just as enriching and educational of an experience,” Rosi said.

Marlborough is turning their focus to domestic trips for safety as well as economic feasibility, and is now offering more localized trips such as the visit to El Paso this spring break.