New Committee to Govern Winterim

New Committee to Govern Winterim

The School recently unveiled a significant overhaul of its Winterim program, highlighted by the establishment of a new Winterim Committee.

Spearheaded by Upper School Head Joshua Neudel and Assistant Head of School Carl Vallely, the oversight change seeks to enrich the program while tackling its expanding complexity, underscoring its vital role in the curriculum.

“Winterim is a signature program of Brimmer,” Vallely said. “It’s an important part of the Upper School experience, but it has grown to be more complex, so we made the decision to expand the oversight to a committee structure.”

This restructuring transitions former Global Studies Director Kelly Neely to the new committee, alongside Associate Director of College Counseling Dan Birdsall, Science Department Chair Cecelia Pan, Dean of Students Paul Murray, and Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Jessica Christian.

“This enables more voices to be part of the program development and manage logistics and operations to improve the overall experience,” Neudel said. “Each member has a specific background and role on the committee, based on their experiences.”

Key Changes
  • The transition to a committee structure from a single coordinator was necessitated by the expansion of the School and its programs.
  • More travel options are available this year, marking a step toward restoring the pre-COVID travel program.
  • An early survey solicited families' preferences, aiming to minimize the chance of proposing programs that will not proceed.

Since launching in the 1990s, Winterim has long stood as Upper School students’ most beloved School experience. The  domestic and international trips have provided opportunities to explore new sights, learn about diverse cultures, and bond with classmates every other year.

Starting next year, every trip must also incorporate a community service element to promote direct interaction with local communities.

“We wanted an authentic element to Winterim, where students actually work with organizations that benefit the communities they visit,” Neudel said. “For example, some trips will include a day of service, while others might be fully service-oriented.”

During the recent break, the School also distributed a survey to better align trip options with community interests, focusing on cultural engagement, interests, socializing, and cost.

According to Neudel, families prioritized travel to new places, followed by socializing with friends, and equally valued learning about new cultures and participating in interesting programs.

New guidelines specify that destinations must be reachable via a direct flight no longer than eight hours to Boston or New York City, limiting choices to the Americas or Europe.

2025 Destinations

Editors' note: Below, the School provided The Gator with brief descriptions of next year's proposed trips.

American Southwest: Travel the US Southwest and have the opportunity to hike in national parks and landmarks such as Zion, Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, and Sedona.

Austria: This program will explore Vienna, Salzburg, and Munich. In addition to traveling to cultural sites, students will also visit the memorial site of the concentration camp, Dachau.

Costa Rica: Students will visit a wildlife refuge, and participate in ecotourism, such as ziplining and visiting the La Paz Waterfall Garden.

France: The France program will both visit important landmarks and focus on impressionist art. Students will be based out of Paris and Rouen, with the second portion of the trip visiting the Alabaster Coast.

Italy: Students participating in the Italy program will visit the Amalfi Coast, including Naples, Capri, Sorrento, and Pompeii. The program will balance learning about the history of the area and hiking.

London: London-goers will have an opportunity to learn about London through the eyes of Shakespeare. In addition to the Shakespeare focused tours, they will also see a show in the West End, visit Harry Potter World, and visit Westminster Abbey.

Panama: In Brimmer's first trip to Panama, students will learn about the ecology of the region, while also visiting and learning about the Panama Canal. Students will also have the unique opportunity to swim in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans during the same trip.

Portugal: This program will take a step back in time, spending the majority of time in Lisbon and Lagos. Students will learn about the history of these cities, the architecture, and the important historical landmarks.

Puerto Rico: Program travelers will learn about the history of San Juan, while also spending time in the tropical rainforests and ocean. The program will be a hybrid of outdoor experiences and visiting historic and cultural landmarks.

Spain: Enjoy Spain's beautiful and exciting capital city, Madrid, by learning about its rich history through its timeless architecture, visiting the inimitable Prado museum, taking a day trip to Toledo (an UNESCO World Heritage Site), enjoying culinary highlights such as tapas and churros, experiencing an iconic flamenco show, and strolling through the stunning Retiro Park.

Switzerland: Students who participate in the Switzerland program will be treated to scenic views and outdoor adventures. Some of the trip locations include spending time in Geneva and Zurich, as well as a cable car ride over glaciers and crevasses on the way to the Matterhorn Glacier Palace.

Boston: Students who do not wish to travel for Winterim will participate in the Boston program. This program is typically designed with student input and takes day trips throughout the week.

“Post-COVID, we’ve implemented detailed safety parameters to ensure a robust medical and safety infrastructure,” Neudel said.

Neudel also stressed the importance of improving access to Winterim for all students, particularly by assisting those who require visas for certain destinations.

“We have families here from different countries, and places like Puerto Rico ensure they can experience traveling outside of the continental United States without worrying about visas,” Neudel said.

Jackson Tarbox ‘26 once dreamed of visiting Japan, inspired by a teacher last year who described the trip as potentially life-changing.

“It’s something I really wanted to experience,” Tarbox said.

Winterim Mission Statement

Editor's note: Upper School Head Joshua Neudel, who also serves as a leader of the newly formed Winterim Committee, shared the program's mission statement with The Gator.

Brimmer’s Winterim program’s mission is to foster global citizenship and cultural competency among our students through transformative travel experiences. We believe that exposure to diverse cultures and perspectives is an essential component of a well-rounded education. Our program is committed to providing students with the opportunity to broaden their horizons and cultivate a lifelong love for exploration and travel.

Through carefully created itineraries designed and led by our faculty, we seek to create educational experiences that encourages students to explore and to engage with local communities, historical sites,  and service-learning opportunities. This program fits the school’s mission of creating life-long learners who ready to lead in our diverse world.

Vallely echoed Tarbox’s sentiment, expressing a personal dream to lead a trip to Japan one day.

“It’s a place I would love to travel to with students,” Vallely said. “We’ll see what the future holds, and we certainly hope to go back to places in Asia or Africa again on future Winterim trips.”

Work on the Winterim program begins 18 months in advance, according to Neudel.

“This means that decisions on options are weighed based on the existing global framework and what the world may look like in the future,” Neudel said. “As we continue to emerge from a post-COVID world, the School loosened its travel restrictions from 2022. Since our initial program development, we have already seen some trips removed or updated based on world events.”

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About the Contributor
Mary Wang
Mary Wang, Co-Managing Editor
Mary is a sophomore at the School. Her interests range from creative arts to politics. She especially loves all theater-related things, debating, and sustainability. Being from China, she hopes to write about her country’s culture and current events. She is excited to continue writing about these interests in The Gator.

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