The Coast News Group
Grauer School students during a trip to Thailand earlier this fall semester. Courtesy photo.

Grauer students return from ‘life-changing journeys’ abroad

ENCINITAS — Students from The Grauer School, an independent school in Encinitas, have returned transformed from their life-changing journeys during fall expeditions to Kenya, Thailand, Mexico and other communities.

Grauer students delivered donated school supplies during their trip to Kenya, where each student was paired with a Daraja School student to shadow as they toured the campus, attended classes, took Swahili lessons and ate meals together.

In Thailand, students delivered supplies to an orphanage and worked with the forest conservation service. In Bahia de Los Angeles in Baja California, Mexico, students engaged in service projects with both the Baja medical clinic and local sports teams.

Grauer School students bring supplies to an orphanage in Thailand. Courtesy photo.

Grauer students also went on several California-based trips to the Pali Institute, Cachuma Lake, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.

“The Grauer School is among the best in the world at balancing college preparation with expeditionary learning. The school was founded on the idea of learning by discovery and provides students with the worldwide experience to become compassionate, service-minded citizens,” said Head of School Dana Abplanalp-Diggs. “As a UNESCO affiliate school, we are widely lauded for our humanitarian and ecological service in places of need — we build schools, construct homes and gardens, and serve others. Expeditionary learning is not just one of our five foundational principles, it’s something we believe in so strongly that we cancel classes two full weeks each year in order to engage our students in humanitarian and ecological service.”

During a trip to Kenya, Grauer School students were paired with Daraja School students to learn from each other. Courtesy photo.

Alicia Tembi, Shelley Joslin and Johnny King led the Kenyan expedition. After a long flight to Nairobi via Qatar, the 20 Grauer students drove to Daraja Academy. While there, students engaged academically while also enjoying a sunrise hike, spiritual time and games, visiting a chimpanzee rescue started by Jane Goodall and going on a safari with elephants, lions, rhinos and buffalo sightings.

Neyma Jahansooz, alongside Tom Hopper, Isaac Langen and Paulina Davis-Fisher led the “Exploring Thailand: Cultural Immersion through Service and the Arts Expedition,” where students traveled to Chiang Mai via Taipei, Taiwan. After settling into Jahansooz’s guest houses that he built for visiting musicians and artists, the 16 Grauer students visited a night market, participated in a Muay Thai class, interacted with elephants, performed at an open mic night at a jazz house, enjoyed a cave hike and visited the Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery.

Trevor Olson, Simon Checa, Erin Langen and Nick Scacco led the Bahia de Los Angeles expedition, beginning with an extensive marine and experiential education at Glendale Community College’s field station. In addition to the service projects, the 25 Grauer students slept on cots right on the beach, explored some of the most pristine waters in the Sea of Cortez, swam with whale sharks, dug for clams, dove for scallops and fished for yellowtail and dorado.

Students hike to the waters of Baja California for marine life educational opportunities. Courtesy photo.

“Even though we do our best to bring any requested supplies and work in service locally, we learn more from these communities than we give,” Abplanalp-Diggs said. “Our expeditions program is a great way for our students to learn by discovery, foster new relationships, practice resourcefulness and challenge themselves beyond their comfort levels.”

Interested families can learn more about expeditionary learning opportunities for students during Discover Grauer Days, where families can visit The Grauer School campus and classrooms while school is in session. For more information and to RSVP,


Leave a Comment