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A member of Pingry's Entrepreneurship Club, Madeline tells about pitching her business idea at the LaunchX Mid-Atlantic Regional Event in New York City.

A new vending machine on the Basking Ridge Campus, offering healthy snacks and small meals on-the-go, gives busy students another after-school snack option.

Pingry Travelers

Pingry

Travelers

Andrew Beckmen

Class of 2019 - North Country School, Adirondacks
Over the six days I spent in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks over Presidents Day weekend in 2018, I was able to immerse myself in an entirely foreign way of life. Even though I was just about four-and-a-half hours from the familiar halls of the Pingry Campus, I was exposed to a lifestyle so drastically different from my life in suburban New Jersey.

Although I originally signed up for Pingry's trip to the Adirondacks because of its recreational opportunities, I came away with so much more. The trip forced me to evaluate my own way of life from a totally new perspective. Entering the trip, I had such a limited view of what it means to "live sustainably." Recycling my water bottles? Turning off the sink while I brush my teeth? That was about all I knew. My time at the North Country School (NCS) provided me with an entirely new lens through which to view the world around me.

Just hours after arriving, our group ventured to the barn for afternoon barn chores, which included tending to the chickens, sheep, goats, and horses. To say the least, I was petrified.Before the trip, I had never really been around farm animals, much less cared for them. The first day of chores, I was hesitant to get involved, stepping back in order to let the more experienced NCS students finish the job. Yet, as the trip progressed, I became increasingly attached to the animals. On the last day, I asked to go back to the barn because I still had not captured the perfect photo of my favorite sheep.

By the end of the trip, I had acquired so much knowledge about topics from organic food to generating your own heat. However, no teacher ever lectured me about these topics as they would in a traditional classroom. I was forced to learn by doing.

Even though the trip taught me so much, it left me with many questions as well. What efforts should Pingry make to be more sustainable? Would every initiative at NCS be realistic for the Pingry Campus? What can I do at home to decrease my impact on the environment? This experience taught me how much you can learn by being in a new, possibly uncomfortable, situation. By challenging myself, I was able to learn and grow, while still having tons of fun.

Alisa Chokshi

Class of 2019 - National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y), China
During the first week of my National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) program in Chengdu, China, I remember hearing a thought-provoking statement during our visit to the U.S. Consulate. A representative told us that the relations between the two countries are built on people-to-people interactions, more so than exchanges between media, government, etc. I remember thinking that this concept was so simple, yet so powerful.

Upon completion of my six-week program, I can now say with certainty that the people-to-people interactions I had with the people were the most rewarding part of my experience. Whether it was joking around with my Chinese friends, having meaningful discussions with my host family, or simply bargaining with shopkeepers in Chinese, I feel as if I have broken down many stereotypes and gained a true appreciation for China and its deep culture.

From climbing the Great Wall and swooning over cute pandas to having a traditional farm lunch in the countryside and crashing Chinese weddings, I was truly immersed in the local Chinese culture, an experience unlike anything I could have imagined! It’s also the little things that really mattered—like playing with my nine-month-old host brother, Dodo, after school everyday, going for swims with my host sister, and totally failing at speaking Chinese. But all those experiences made me grow so much as a person, and I am forever grateful to have had the opportunity to study abroad and expand my horizons.

Jackson Proudfoot

Class of 2018 - Bears Ears National Monument, Utah
When I joined Pingry's Outing Club at the beginning of my junior year, I expected to go on a few hikes and campouts throughout the year. What I didn’t expect was an incredible backpacking trip over Spring Break through the breathtaking canyons of Cedar Mesa in southeastern Utah, a trip that would have a major impact on my life.

When backpacking, you carry everything you need to survive on your back and have to rely on the handful of people you are with. Luckily, the trip was led by incredible trip leaders and Pingry faculty Mr. Crowley-Delman, Ms. Sullivan, and Mr. Horesta, as well as seven of my fellow classmates, who I knew I could trust.

I spent the first half of my junior year preparing for the trip, researching gear, and learning about the area we would be traversing. Yet, when we were getting ready to board our flight from Newark to Salt Lake City on March 11, I was still unsure of what to expect in the days ahead. It wasn’t until we descended into the canyon the following day that I could fully comprehend what I had gotten myself into.

Over the next 10 days I hiked over 50 miles, explored numerous Anasazi ruins, learned more about Cedar Mesa and the controversy surrounding the recently designated Bears Ears National Monument, and slept (without a tent) under a blanket of a thousand of stars.

I learned more in a week surrounded by the walls of a canyon than I have ever learned in a week surrounded by the walls of a classroom, and discovered a new passion that I hope to continue pursuing during my final year at Pingry, and beyond.

Jill Driscoll

Lower School Educational Technology Specialist
Like many Pingry faculty, Jill Driscoll, Educational Technology Specialist at the Lower School, is always in search of fun with STEAM—that is, projects that weave together science, technology, engineering, art, and math. Take, for example, the “Snowball Saver” endeavor she helped to oversee two winters ago, during which Kindergartners, inspired by the book Snowy Day, by Jack Ezra Keats, had to figure out a way to prevent snowballs from melting when brought indoors. It was a “design-thinking” challenge at its best.

Last year, she, along with second-grade teachers Sally Dugan, Mary Ogden, and Sara Berg, decided to broaden their STEAM initiative—by a few continents. They introduced Grade 2 students to an innovative, STEAM-based global learning program. Facilitated by an educational organization called LevelUp Village, the three second-grade classes partnered with schools in either Ghana, Nigeria, or Brazil to take the same design-thinking course. In “Global Storybook Engineers,” for example, after reading the Italian folk tale Strega Nona, students were tasked with constructing a tower strong enough to withstand an avalanche of spaghetti. Not only did they have to design, build, and problem-solve, they were collaborating—through weekly video exchanges—with peers who live in countries vastly different from their own.

The program was such a success, it was introduced to Grade 4 students the following year. Soon, Mrs. Driscoll hopes to roll the program out to all Lower School grades.

"The design-thinking part of it is so cool, but the global connection is really the icing on the cake,” says Mrs. Driscoll. "We really want Pingry students to learn from the exchange. The kids have an opportunity to see life differently from their own, and that's an important lesson, too."

Lindsey Larson

Class of 2018 - TASIS England
Honestly, if you had told eighth-grade me or even freshman-year me that I would be taking a semester away from Pingry, the school that I have attended since the sixth grade, during the second semester of my sophomore year, I probably would have laughed and denied any possibility of such a thing happening.

Although the idea of spending a semester abroad in college had always intrigued me, I never knew that taking a semester away in high school was a possibility. Even now, in my junior year back at Pingry, it is still surreal to think that my “crazy” idea—as my parents first called it, of attending TASIS England, an American boarding school with an international staff and student body located southwest of London in a small village called Thorpe—became a reality.

Yet, a little less than a year after applying to TASIS in the spring of my freshman year, there I was, on Monday January 18, 2016, the first morning in my new “home away from home.” I was sitting in the dining hall at breakfast hearing a conversation in German behind me, in Russian at the table next to mine, and in French across the room, all the while actively trying to participate in—let alone comprehend—a conversation in Spanish with native speakers at the very table I was sitting at. Less than 24 hours into my adventure abroad and the international experience that I was promised was did not disappoint.

Over the course of the six months that I spent in England, I met hundreds of people who told fascinating and compelling stories about their lives in their home countries of Spain, Russia, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Japan, Brazil, France, South Korea, Canada, India, South Africa, Italy, China, Mexico, Greece, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Croatia, Tanzania, and Portugal, to name a few. I spent weekends exploring the city of London and was able to visit Austria during February break and Spain during a field trip and with my roommate to visit her hometown.

It’s hard to sum up a life-changing and eye-opening semester filled with incredible people and experiences into one sentence; however, if I had to, I would say that taking a semester away and taking the risk to board at TASIS England allowed me to truly step out of my comfort zone and experience life without the constant presence of my parents’ support and guidance.

Lauryn Rodney

Class of 2017 - High Mountain Institute, Rocky Mountains
High Mountain Institute provided me with a brave space, a place where I could step outside of my comfort zone and figure myself out. By putting myself into uncomfortable situations, both physically and mentally, I learned that I can.

I can cook, I can run 10 miles, I can like history, I can live without my phone, and, in fact, I thrived without it. I can summit a mountain, and climb a cliff, and go into and out of a canyon. I can rock climb, I can bake brownies, and I can wrestle with someone three times my size. I’ll lose, but I can still do it. I can square dance, I can play guitar in front of actual people and not just my dog and the stuffed animals on my bed, I can cross a river, and I can push my way through a patch of willows that are much taller than I am. I can hike 10 miles in a day with a backpack that is almost half my body weight.

I learned to stop saying “I can’t do this” before even trying. I figured out how to be more open to different ideas and choices, and that I may even like them.

Reid Allinson

Class of 2017 - Arabic Year, King’s Academy, Jordan
Reid asked if he could apply to The Arabic Year program at King's Academy in Jordan. He was hungry for a global experience and wanted to step out of the bubble of all things familiar. As his parents, we were excited for him, but had obvious safety concerns about sending our son to study in the Middle East. —Hilary Allinson, Reid's mom

However, after assurances from King's, parents of Arabic Year students, and contacts who live and/or travel to Jordan for business, we gave Reid the green light to attend. And, we are so glad we did. Reid's junior year was filled with the unique experiences of living, learning, and exploring Jordan and the region.

Our son returned to Pingry with life-long friends made from countries like Egypt, Afghanistan, Jordan, Malaysia, and Colombia. He learned Arabic and better understands the complex history, culture, politics, and people of the Middle East. He had to represent and defend the U.S. and its history in classrooms filled with students from more than 35 countries. Reid flourished personally and academically, becoming all the more independent so very far from home. Most important, he gained an invaluable perspective of the U.S and the world at large.


Jenn Korn

Class of 2017 - St. Stephen’s School, Rome
There I was, an American traveling from her Italian home stay to represent Japan while in Berlin, Germany. I was ready to join the youth of Europe in my first ever Model United Nations conference. Hailing from an international school, our delegation was comprised of three Italians, one Saudi Arabian, one Kentuckian, and me.

None of us had ever attended a MUN simulation before, and our knowledge of Japan’s situation was limited to our study in the weeks prior to the conference. Upon arrival, I entered a conference hall packed with teenagers dressed in business clothes, carrying clipboards and appearing extremely confident.

The room was abuzz with the languages of Europe. As French, Spanish, German, and Italian all blended together with English into a hum of excitement, I truly embraced the MUN experience. I realized that before me was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the world from an authentically European view, and I had the opportunity to debate issues from truly global perspectives.

Seeing the world through a different lens allowed me to shed all remnants of my small-town New Jersey self, and I was pushed into my new skin as a citizen of the world. It was there, sitting in the audience as a panel of European teenagers discussed the ongoing fight against terrorism, where I truly felt myself enter adulthood.