For students enrolled in Thrival Academy, a one-year study abroad program through Indianapolis Public Schools, the last three months have been exhilarating, scary, challenging, overwhelming and fun.
“It has been a long and sometimes arduous journey,” said India Hui, program coordinator, in the group’s final newsletter that covered the three months they’ve lived and studied in the Southeast Asian country of Thailand.
During the group’s final two weeks abroad, students worked on their final project — a comprehensive city development plan — which Hui said stretched and challenged them in many ways. They’ve also been studying urbanization and conservation.
This is the second year for the program. While in Thailand, students work on curriculum units and attend academic classes. This year, the first unit was on agriculture, specifically environmental science as they explored organic verses nonorganic farming and its impact. In English class, they worked on argumentative writing with a focus on farming.
But it’s not just about learning through books at Thrival. Students also learn through first-hand experience while living, albeit temporarily, in another country.
The students and Hui lived in student housing with Rustic Pathways staff while in Thailand, but also spent time living with famers (about two to three students per household). Now back on American soil, Hui has taken enough students abroad to know that it will take time for them to readjust to living at home, with rules and chores they haven’t had to adhere to in months.
So, to help prepare parents and guardians for their student’s return, Hui offered a few suggestions, including:
- Patiently help them adjust to daily habits, routines.
- Listen to them as they talk about their many experiences in Thailand.
- Watch out for feelings of loneliness as students begin processing what they’ve experienced while back at home.
“Please be patient as your teenager will feel a new sense of independence and accomplishment after living abroad for three months,” said Hui in the newsletter. “They finished what they started, and that is something to be celebrated. Now we must help them channel this new growth and energy into a successful future.”
Welcome home, Thrival students and staff!