Along with the largest enrollment of American students in its history, Storm King has welcomed 90 international students from 23 countries this year. For many of them, their arrival on the Mountain is their first experience traveling abroad and their first visit to the United States. To make sure they all get off to a good start, the School organizes a four-day trip to the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., on the weekend before classes begin each year.
The trip is designed to give the new international students an introduction to American culture, history, politics, and food – all in one fun-filled weekend – while they get to know their classmates and make new friends. This year’s trip took place on Friday, August 24 through Monday, August 27 with more than 60 new international students, supervising faculty members, and several student Resident Assistants (RAs) in attendance.
During their stay, they visited national landmarks such as the White House and the National Mall, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Ford’s Theatre Museum, the Lincoln Memorial, and more. On their way back to New York, the students also topped off their trip with a day of fun and excitement at New Jersey’s Six Flags Great Adventure Amusement Park.
International Student Advisor Cathy Hecht, who organizes the trip each year, explains that a key to the success of the orientation process for new international students is the presence of the student RAs. “The student RAs are Storm King juniors and seniors who have stepped up to lead by example and help the newest members of our student body feel at home,” said Mrs. Hecht.
Peter Rowe, another faculty member who attended the trip, believes that the student RAs benefit from the experience just as much as the new students. One such RA is senior Cem Taviloglu. “It’s my first year as an RA. I really enjoyed helping the new students and telling them about Storm King, and about life in America. I can also see now why setting a good example is so important. After the trip and being responsible for the whereabouts of so many other students, I can sympathize much better with my teachers and my parents,” Cem explained.
As the weary but smiling students got off the bus upon their return to campus, their feelings were unanimous. All were in agreement that it was “one of the best trips ever” and that on top of all the sightseeing and amusement park excitement, a highlight of the trip was sampling American food such as “Philly cheesesteaks, pizza, and great hamburgers.”