This year we built into the calendar and established as a tradition, the student bonding trips. Especially this year, with 42 new students and 4 new teachers to the ISB Upper School, it was important to get them to make connections with each other and the returning students and faculty. Every grade level went to a different place near Belgrade and the idea is for the groups to learn about Serbian history and culture, be active in the outdoors, and spend time getting to know one another.
I went on the Grade 7 Retreat and had a lot of fun. I wish I could have bottled the energy of the 155 students on Thursday morning in the gym, as we took attendance and sent them out to their buses! They were so excited! We kept them busy with sight seeing, lots of hiking, and time for playing sports. In the evening, we did some group activities, like the one above, where they had to sit on each other’s knees. If the group does it at the same time and slowly, it can be done and they can support one another. After a few attempts, the group finally got it. We also made a Harlem Shake video among other things.
One could see the social groups breaking down during the trip. It is a challenge for our school to get the long-term local students to connect with the transient expatriate students. The Serbians have seen many friends come and go and can get a bit wary. Also the big differences in culture sometimes need to be understood.
I think next year we can make it better by working funding of the trip into the tuition, thus lowering the amount of logistics that needs to be worked out.