South America 2018-11-09T11:06:07-07:00

South America

Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia

Spring Semester, 2020

Spring Semester Dates: February 1 – May 15

Potential activities on this semester include:

  • Delve into the jungle with naturalists to explore plants, animals, and waterways of the Amazon Basin
  • Participate in community projects and a homestay with an indigenous Quichua family
  • Explore one of the oldest haciendas in Ecuador to better understand the vestiges of the encomienda system and land ownership
  • Immerse in Ecuador’s colonial history by touring the cathedrals and museums of Quito’s Old Town
  • Strengthen Spanish language skills while conversing in markets, villages, and schools
  • Study glaciology while traversing Peruvian mountain passes of the Cordillera Blanca
  • Interpret the mysteries of the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu with a traditional healer and anthropologist
  • Ascend glaciers with crampons and ice axes in Bolivia’s Cordillera Real
  • This semester is for you if you like: mountains, color, hiking, rugged terrain, community interaction, villages, Spanish, art, children, and cooperative spirit.




This two-credit class is designed to be a thought-provoking, discussion-based forum that teaches and promotes critical thinking and helps students make connections between reoccurring themes, ideas, and concepts from the semester. The class has two primary focuses: first, this class uses multiple methods to provide students with critical thinking tools essential for higher level reasoning and critique; second, Global Studies uses an interdisciplinary and transnational framework to explore regional economic, political, social, and environmental issues in the developing world in order to better understand how globalization operates in our world today. The class is divided into multiple units centering on different themes pertinent to the region in which we are traveling. Global Studies is team-taught and is a required class for every Traveling School student; it is designed to be an academic and reflective space for the entire group to work through the complex questions that arise from traveling in the developing world.

The class will pose important questions about the state of South America today through an in-depth regional study. Drawing important connections between the political economies of the developed and developing world, we undertake a multi-scaled examination of the impacts of globalization on this region of the world as it relates to both the material conditions of everyday lives and the governmental structure and policy of South American nations. We explore a variety of different topics on this semester: indigenous issues, foreign aid, and grassroots activism. Each unit engages diverse material coming out of multiple disciplines, schools of thought, and perspectives. Students contemplate and synthesize material through weekly Reflection, Reaction and Response essays.

The Global Studies course will also emphasize active world citizenship through community service and cultural exchange. Students perform approximately 20-25 hours of community service during the semester. During these experiences, students will study and understand local and regional issues and turn this knowledge into action.

Final Presentation

Each student is required to give a final public presentation for a group of their peers when they return home. This presentation must be verified by a supervising adult and sent to The Traveling School for a final grade.

The Traveling School is an all-encompassing experience and this course helps students understand and manage the demands of being an individual in a group setting. Physical Education (PE) & Independent Life Skills (iLife) is a 2-credit class that focuses on academic, physical and emotional successes and challenges. The PE component helps students develop strength and cardiovascular endurance. Being an active participant in PE enables each student to be a productive member of the group and will help to keep the group physically healthy throughout the semester. Weekly iLife workshops help students develop skills to become a healthy, productive citizen who takes responsibility for personal well-being, as well as a social responsibility for participating positively in the larger community around them. These workshops explore key aspects of communication, group dynamics, conflict resolution, and leadership skills. The combination of PE & iLife will help students develop an awareness of balance and well-being. This is a participation-based class during workouts and class discussions. Students receive daily grades and will complete weekly budgets and other writing assignments to enhance the workshops.

Physical Education component: 

  • Understand importance of proper warm up, cool down and stretch
  • Participate in 45-minute workouts (cardio, strength and yoga) five times a week
  • Quarterly reflection on overall physical performance and growth
  • Lead 1-2 class workouts

Independent Life component:

  • Workshop topics: Self Care, Organization, Budgeting, Group Living, Healthy Lifestyle, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Group Dynamics, Leadership, Stress Management, Transitions

Students are placed in one of three Spanish classes to develop Spanish language skills with an emphasis on conversation. The goal of these courses is to teach students the fundamentals of linguistics and develop Spanish language skills through practice.

Spanish is the primary language spoken in the classroom. Students are expected to improve their Spanish levels of reading, writing, speaking, and comprehension. Students learn and increase their fluency, with a combination of classroom lecture, grammar review, verb tenses, in-class discussion, instruction from and dialogue with native speakers, and exercises in the community (for example, bargaining and buying fruit in a local market). This interactive course requires students to engage and practice speaking techniques during class lectures, in experiential settings and with guest speakers.

This Conversational Spanish course implements the Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century from the National Standards in Foreign Language Education. The emphasis for this course is taught using the 5 C’s: Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities.

  • Communication – The communication standard stresses the use of language for communication in real life situations. It emphasizes, what students can do with language rather than what they know about language. Students are asked to communicate in oral and written form, interpret oral and written messages, show cultural understanding and present oral and written information to various audiences.
  • Cultures – Cultural understanding is important to foreign language education. Experiencing other cultures develops understanding and appreciation of the relationship between languages and other cultures, and the student’s native culture. Students understand other people’s points of view, ways of life and contributions to the world.
  • Connections – Conversational Spanish instruction is connected with other subject areas and content is integrated into the course through common themes and the experiential setting.
  • Comparisons – Students are encouraged to compare and contrast languages and cultures. They discover patterns, make predictions, and analyze similarities and differences across languages and cultures. Students often come to understand their native language and culture better through such comparisons.
  • Communities – Extending learning experiences from the world language classroom to the home and multilingual and multicultural community emphasizes living in a global society.

Honors World Literature and Composition is designed to provide students with critical reading and writing skills, while they benefit from the uniqueness of our environment. Designed to expose students to an assortment of highly acclaimed authors from South America or novels about the region, students read a minimum of two fiction novels. Students also read a variety of classic and South American short stories, plays, non-fiction, essays, and poetry. This course combines reading with a rigorous writing workshop practice to develop writing skills. Students will maintain a series of portfolios and daily journal entries. Students are expected to produce three major compositions including an analytical essay as well as other genre-focused essays relating to novels taught during the semester. All students write and take responsibility for their writing through the use of journals, revision, peer editing, and portfolio techniques.

This course is designed to provide students with a thematic exploration of the history and politics of the South American countries of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Students are asked to think critically about contemporary issues in the region by framing the continent in pre-Columbian, Inca, colonial and post-colonial terms. Throughout the course, students will reflect on how the region’s colonial past continues to shape its present realities. Using a historical lens, students will situate South America within the larger context of global economics, politics, and social dynamics in order to study the ways in which colonial power relations such as race, class, and sexuality produce hierarchical social, political and economic realities for diverse groups of people on both local and global scales. Each unit of the course takes up a different theme and grounds it through specific case studies. In addition to this thematic study, students will engage with the geographic, historical and political particularities of each country we visit on the semester. Finally, students will build a variety of disciplinary skills including assessing and distinguishing between different kinds of sources, researching and presenting on various regional topics, creating and studying maps, interviewing and oral communication, and writing an historical essay. During this course, students will access, synthesize, and evaluate information to communicate and apply social studies knowledge to real world situations.

As we become an increasingly global society, responsible for the planet and its environmental challenges, we need to develop the skills to critically assess problems and logically develop solutions.  This course is designed to enhance student’s understanding of the natural systems that surround us, both in our immediate surroundings in South America and worldwide. Through a hands-on interdisciplinary approach students will use observation and inquiry skills to explore these surroundings and make connections. 

Students will read selections from journal articles, textbooks and other scientific literature, attend guest lectures, and participate in in-class discussions, lectures, and in-depth field studies.  With the diverse environments of South America as our classroom, students will discover the value of observation and inference in science.  Using interconnectedness as an overarching theme for the course, unit studies start with a focus on the tropical rainforest looking at interconnections on a community scale. As the units progress, the course slowly zooms out exploring connections across ecosystems, biomes, and finally the biosphere. Topics will include rainforest ecology, community ecology, ecosystem services, and climate change. Embracing the theme of interconnectedness, units will tie into investigations in the History and Global Studies courses by diving into the economic, social, and political impacts of natural resource extraction as well as the globally felt impacts of these activities. The course will conclude with an exploration of how each individual student is connected to the systems and processes studied over the course. This course is designed around and meets the Next Generation Science Standards

This course introduces the contemporary debate on the changing patterns and challenges of the global economy. Focusing on Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, students will gain an overview of the global economy within the field of economic geography and its connection to issues of natural resources, development, international trade and foreign aid. The course encourages students to develop critical thinking skills and utilize experiential learning opportunities to investigate the phenomenon of globalization to gain an understanding of today’s increasingly interdependent world.

Throughout the semester, students will examine debates about types of foreign aid and the key organizations that drive U.S foreign assistance programs. Using case studies, students will explore the complexity of issues and dilemmas surrounding four major U.S. foreign aid programs. Additionally, students will examine at the impact of international trade and foreign aid on the regions through which they travel.

Note: The Traveling School cannot guarantee complete overlap between a sending school math curriculum and The Traveling School curriculum. Math curricula focus on the primary topics in each subject area. Our syllabi likely vary from the curriculum of each student’s home high school. Students must work with their schools to recognize these differences and, if necessary, be prepared to do any additional work necessary to stay on track with her home high school requirements. 


Prerequisite: Algebra 1

Algebra 2 is a sequential curriculum that enables students to build the foundations for a strong understanding of higher level math. The first-semester curriculum addresses numeric and algebraic expressions and functions, linear and quadratic equations and inequalities in one and two variables. Students learn to conceptualize, analyze and identify relationships among functions graphically and analytically. Students are encouraged to master the concepts of various problem types and solution tactics, and a graphing calculator will often be used as a helpful tool to solve problems and analyze data. During this course, students will connect with the mathematical procedures of problem-solving and analysis, estimation, communication, associations, and applications, and use appropriate technology.

Second semester topics:

  • Logarithms
  • Rational Functions
  • Radical Functions
  • Conic Sections
  • Probability & Statistics
In the three and a half months I traveled through South America with the Traveling School, I learned more about myself and the world around me than all the expectations I had for that semester abroad. I will always remember it as one of the best times of my life, and the next adventure is waiting for you just around the corner.
TTS Student