Major alterations to Winterim were announced last Wednesday, with trips to Germany, the Dominican Republic, and France cancelled due to safety concerns, the spread of the Zika Virus, or both.
The replacement trips will be to Switzerland and to Arizona. Additionally, the trip to England will also stay out of London and tour the nation’s countryside instead.
The changes come after the School administered a survey to parents about their safety concerns — especially with mounting fears of terrorism and unrest throughout Europe. According to Winterim Director Kelly Neely, the School does not wish to sponsor a trip that a majority of respondents had concerns about.
Neely, along with other administrators, reviewed the responses and made alterations accordingly.
The Dominican Republic trip was cancelled due to concerns of Zika, as well as a lack of interest. “I loved my community service trip to the Dominican Republic last Winterim,” says Neely, who directed the trip with history teacher Ted Barker-Hook. “However, I understand why it is cancelled this Winterim year. I am very excited about my replacement trip to Switzerland, with a focus on history and German influence.”
In addition to the Dominican Republic, Germany and France are also cancelled due to recent acts of terrorism. In particular, big cities like Berlin, Paris, and London concerned parents as potential targets.
Humanities Co-Chair Donald Reese, who was set to lead a trip to Paris, says that while he is disappointed about the cancellation, he understands the decision. Now, Reese, who taught in New Mexico for several years, is heading a domestic trip to the state’s neighboring Arizona. Students will experience desert conditions while engaging in community service. Trip-goers will also visit the Mexican border.
“I understand why Paris changed to Arizona and I am still very excited,” Reese says. “I want students to see what it is like to live in the desert and see the difference in lifestyle from Boston to Arizona, two states located in the same country.”
Dean of Students Paul Murray, who was set to lead the trip to London, is now taking students to the English countryside to learn about Shakespeare, and the influence of Rome on British history.
After 9/11, most Winterim trips were cancelled and Winterim was temporarily renamed “March On.” Comparatively, Murray explains, making alterations to this year’s existing trips isn’t nearly as dramatic.
“We have to honor the fact that parents and other people may have concerns,” Murray says. “We are taking care of people’s kids for a week and we want parents and guardians to be as comfortable as they can with that.”
Neely is aware of unfolding events around the world, and she will continue to monitor developments. In the next few weeks, once trip leaders finalize costs and itineraries, students will be able to sign up for their trip choices online.
“Life always involves risk and we do not want to let fear stop us from experiencing life,” Neely says.