We believe in the benefits of gaining new perspectives through travel and exposure to other cultures. GFS offers domestic and international study opportunities for our Middle and Upper School students.
(If you are an international student seeking to attend GFS, please see our International Student Program.)
GFS has partnered with African Leadership Academy (ALA) to offer GFS students a global learning experience, which takes place on the campus of ALA in Johannesburg, South Africa. This program is based on ALA’s Entrepreneurial Leadership curriculum.
An independent school with 250 students, 70+ faculty and staff across multiple departments in South Africa and the US, ALA’s mission is to contribute to the transformation of Africa by developing a powerful network of over 6,000 leaders over 50 years who will work together to address the continent’s greatest challenges, achieve extraordinary social impact, and accelerate the continent's growth trajectory.
Over the course of this thirteen-day learning experience, GFS students study alongside an extraordinary coterie of outstanding students who are recruited from across the African continent. Participating in a curriculum based on the ALA curriculum, students develop leadership skills and foster an entrepreneurial mindset in participants through carefully crafted learning experiences both on and off the ALA campus. With an emphasis on social entrepreneurship, the program is enhanced by historic and cultural activities and informed by real-life examples of social innovation ventures from across the Johannesburg area. Visiting students also consider issues of social justice as they examine the parallel, but differing histories of the United States and South Africa with regard to race and class.
Visiting students and faculty leaders reside on the ALA campus, engage in a human-centered design lab (BUILD), attend classes and other ALA programs, and interact with ALA students and teachers to expand their networks and develop lasting relationships. ALA provides accommodations, meals, transportation, security, program instruction, learning support materials, community-based learning opportunities, and engagement with ALA peers.
The program is open to 11th and 12th graders. Interested individuals may contact Carol Rawlings Miller for more information.
The Winchester College program was established in 2014. All seniors are welcome to apply. Four students are selected.
The students attend Winchester College for three weeks during January term.
Winchester College, founded in 1382, is a boys’ boarding school in the medieval cathedral town of Winchester, an hour south of London. Over the last four years, sixteen GFS students have studied in Winchester, accompanied by GFS faculty from different disciplines. Students attend classes, play sports, and engage in all activities at the boarding school, and also have the opportunity to spend a weekend in London.
The GFS/Winchester travel program is part of the Directed Independent Study Program and grew out of the Penn Global Forum at the Graduate School of Education in 2013, where representatives of fourteen high schools from around the world discussed global initiatives.
Here is the information sheet for the January 2018 Winchester College program.
Anne Gerbner, English teacher and Director of Independent Studies, is the director and organizer of this program.
Our French Exchange Program was started in 1948 with Falaise (in Normandy), as part of a Quaker initiative to help with war reparations.
Upper School French language students in eleventh and twelfth grades may elect to travel with a group of students for two weeks during Spring Break with Amy Celentano, head of the Modern Language Department. GFS students are hosted by students from the Lycée Liard.
Students have the opportunity to visit Mont St Michel, D-Day Beaches, Caen and the Tapestry of Bayeux in addition to attending classes.
This exchange travels to France in the first year and hosts the same French students the following year during their spring break in April. Between 18 and 24 students may participate.
Our Mexico Exchange Program began in 1982.
Each year, six ninth grade students studying Spanish travel to Tlaxcala, a provincial capital and a safe and prosperous city of 1.17 million, about 75 miles east of Mexico City (on the way to Veracruz) for one month. Students live with a host family and attend classes at La Escuela Secundaria Técnica No.1 "Xicohtencatl Axayacatzin" de Tlaxcala.
GFS students travel to Mexico during January Term. In Mexico, they participate in Math, English, History, Spanish, arts, and traditional dance classes as well as a number of cultural activities with their host families.
The Mexican students come to GFS for the month of April. It is generally a reciprocal exchange, so that each pair of students spends two months together, one with the family in Tlaxcala and the other in Philadelphia.
Rachel Bradburd, Middle and Upper School Spanish teacher, is the director of this exchange.
Student comments about Mexico Exchange:
It was the highlight of my year.
—Will Hagele '20
I loved my host sister and I loved the Mexican culture. I also loved that when I came back I felt more fluent than I’d ever been. I’d known since I’d started taking Spanish in 7th grade that I wanted to become fluent and the only way to do that was to go live in a Spanish speaking country for a few months or a few years. Being that I was only in 9th grade, this is the closest that I’d ever come to fulfilling that dream.
—Lila Sternberg-Sher '17
Network of Complementary School Program (US & PR)
Since 1976, GFS has been a member of The Network of Complementary Schools, a group of public and independent schools that offers its students opportunities to experience learning through varied programs at its member schools. Exposure to academic, cultural, and geographic diversity helps participants to explore new interests, develop new competencies, enhance confidence, broaden perspectives, and grow as individuals.
The Network of Complementary Schools Program is available to all Middle and Upper School students for one and two week programs, respectively. Programs are individually arranged and applications are accepted on a rolling basis in the fall. The application process is non-competitive.
Participating students live with host families or stay in dormitories at their host schools. They attend individualized class schedules and participate fully in their host communities.
The Scottish Exchange, is our second oldest consecutively running exchange, with the first student exchange taking place in 1972.
All eighth grade girls are invited to apply. Four girls are selected.
While in Scotland, our girls live with a host family and attend St. George’s School for Girls in Edinburgh. Each host family has a girl who is the same age and in the same grade as their GFS counterpart. This is a one month exchange.
Our students travel to Scotland in mid-January and the Scottish girls come to GFS from late April into early May. This exchange has a summer faculty component as well.
The coordinator for this program is Robert Reinhardt, one of our Middle School Art teachers.