The World

From a private flyover of Rio de Janeiro and the Brazilian Amazon to a spiritual immersion in an Indian ashram, we take students off the beaten path.

On this journey, we explore the world through constant interactive experiences in “classrooms without walls.” Our goal is to expose and start to understand the complex interrelatedness of our planet’s different ecosystems, industries, cultures, value systems, and arts communities.

1. Boston, USA
2. Beijing, China
3. Delhi & Agra, India
4. Dubai, UAE
5. Maasai Mara, Kenya
6. Athens & Epidaurus, Greece
7. Rio de Janeiro & Manaus, Brazil
8. Boston, USA

Days 1-2 | Boston, USA


Our cohort of eager travelers gathers in “America’s University City” for an orientation program that sets the stage for our journey of investigation into issues of global significance. Intimate conversations with leading scientists, academics, and professionals of Harvard and MIT equip us with frameworks that will enable and enhance our in-country experiences as we circumnavigate the globe.

We enjoy Boston’s skyline as we kayak on the Charles River before dinner with local college students who share their inside opinion on the real competition between such prestigious institutions… comparing the best pizza in Harvard Square to the best burrito in Kendall Square.

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Days 3-6 | Beijing, China


“One Belt, One Road” is the name bestowed upon an interlocking system of developments in infrastructure, energy and trade undertaken by China to simultaneously revive the ancient Silk Road and build up new trading routes between Asia and the world.  Trillions of dollars are flowing into the reshuffling of global transportation routes, solidifying China’s position as the driving force behind new frontiers for global commerce. 

China’s gradual assumption of a leading role on the global stage is dependent on infrastructure investments beyond national borders, ongoing shifts in geopolitical power dynamics, and a historical self-perception of the nation as the center of the civilized universe. Through dialogue with a variety of stakeholders, we learn more about the changing relationship between China and the world.

Days 7-11 | Delhi and Agra,
India


Religious diversity has been a defining characteristic of India’s population for centuries. The country has no official state religion, but religion plays a central role in Indian daily life through its temple ceremonies, festivals, pilgrimages, family religious traditions, and the like. It is often difficult for a foreigner to fully appreciate religion’s importance in this officially secular country.

On our return from Agra, we stop at Vrindavana, a small village considered by many to be the holiest place in India. The city is famous for the eternal presence of the god Krishna and goddess Radha, both of whom spent their childhoods in the village. We visit local temples and spend one night immersed in an ashram, or spiritual hermitage, where we re-engage with the powerful energy and profound wisdom of the world, leaving aside our regular habits, patterns and indulgences.

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Days 12-13 | Dubai, UAE


From the towering Burj Khalifa to the context-defying Miracle Garden, the city of Dubai represents the boundaries of possibility for architecture and engineering.  We visit the Burj Khalifa, learning how the combination of cutting-edge technologies and cultural influences allows the building to serve as a global icon and a model for future, compact, livable urban areas. We continue on to the Miracle Garden, perhaps Dubai’s most ambitious undertaking yet. Planted on over 775,000 square feet of land, the garden creates massive designs and shapes using fields and flowerbeds using a seemingly impossible 45 million separate flowers, especially impressive in Dubai’s harsh desert climate.

We move beyond superficial understandings and deepen our knowledge of Islam as practiced in the United Arab Emirates. Students will discover how different religious and ethnic groups have harmoniously coexisted for centuries, and why the United Arab Emirates is still a global center for Islamic scholarship. We meet with officials from the UAE Ministry of Tolerance, learning how they view tolerance as the basis for building societies and promoting values of peaceful coexistence.

Days 14-17 | Maasai Mara,
Kenya


Ivory and rhino horn poaching, habitat destruction and bushmeat poaching are having a devastating effect on Africa’s wildlife and wild spaces. We travel into the bush to meet with skilled front-line teams, learning how they are trained and equipped to deter and prevent illegal wildlife activities through a transparent and accountable approach that creates a secure environment for wildlife, visitors and the community.

The Maasai Mara National Reserve is an area of preserved savannah wilderness in southwestern Kenya, regarded as the jewel of Kenya’s wildlife viewing areas. Its animals include lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras and hippos. Nearly two million wildebeest traverse its plains during their annual migration, creating a spectacular sight to behold. We take in game from 4×4 jeeps as well as a peaceful hot-air balloon, enjoying the abundant wildlife and breathtaking views of the Maasai Mara Reserve from a bird’s eye view. Students participate in a basic ranger certification course, learning how to identify and track different species, mitigate human wildlife conflict, and survive in the field.

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Days 18-20 | Athens, Greece


Our cultural and natural heritage are irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. According to the 1972 UNESCO Convention, World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which the sites are located. We travel to Europe to visit ancient sites that still stand as testaments to the incredible ingenuity of ancient civilizations, learning about the concept of preservation and difficulties of maintaining sacred sites.

We visit the city of Epidaurus, a one-of-a-kind archaeological site featuring the remains of one of the most complete Greek sanctuaries of the ancient world and considered by many to be the birthplace of modern medicine. It began as a sanctuary dedicated to the god of medicine, Asclepius. Over the years, the holy men at the site began using herbs, cleansing rituals, and other techniques that transformed the treatment from divine to scientific. The knowledge developed here became the basis for future medical innovations.

Days 21-26 |
Rio and Manaus,
Brazil


The Amazon Rainforest is not only the largest forest in the world, but also the production site for more than twenty percent of the world’s oxygen. Rainforests are one of Earth’s oldest continuous ecosystems and play a significant part in the health of our global environment by digesting and converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. Reflecting environmental conditions as well as past human influence, the Amazon is made up of a mosaic of ecosystems and vegetation types including rainforests, seasonal forests, deciduous forests, flooded forests, and savannas.

After flying to Manaus and leaving behind all extraneous possessions, we meet with local indigenous guides for a trek through the Amazon jungle. While on the trek, we learn about the dynamics of many living species and how much of our modern medicine actually comes from the rainforest area. We build an understanding of the stratification of the forest and how life is distributed vertically, and discuss ways in which the sustainability of the rainforest is tied to the sustainability of the human race. 

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Days 27-29 | Boston, USA


We return to Boston and work in teams to synthesize the findings of our global circumnavigation, drawing conclusions from both our group and individual learnings. What have we learned about issues of global significance on this journey around the world? How are all of our findings interrelated? What do we commit to personally and as a cohort, in light of our conclusions?

We present our conclusions to a panel of international experts from the public and private sectors, as well as an audience of our friends and family. As we experience the challenge and excitement of public speaking, we demonstrate both the depth of our understanding on interrelated issues of global significance, as well as our commitment to take action as stewards of our planet’s resources.