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“One of the most truly inspiring and incredible experiences of my life.” Holly from Charter Academy, Portsmouth.

“35 days, 782 students from 45 countries, I can truly say this was the best experience of my life so far.” Ochuko, Globe Academy, London

This summer, students from across the Ark network joined young people from around the globe for five weeks of independent learning and development at the pioneering Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, USA.

Philips Exeter Academy allows students from different countries to come together, to be immersed in learning, to develop outside of the classroom and to create lifelong memories and friendships.

Through the unique Harkness method, students were given the opportunity to control their own study, to set their own agendas and learn through discussion. They were able to study a wide-range of subjects, including marine biology, forensic science, Italian, computer design and criminal justice.

“Students have to take charge of their education and they’re exposed to the potential they all have to be independent learners” Ethan Shapiro, Principal of Phillips Exeter Academy.

The experience also helped to develop our young people outside of the classroom. For many, this was their first time in America, and their first real taste of independence. From managing their time, to budgeting, from prioritising their work to getting to lessons on time, everything was down to them.

“I developed a sense of responsibility on my own. I was in charge of how I separated my social and academic life, not my parents or teachers,” Vanessa, Evelyn Grace Academy, London

Being a truly international experience, students really valued the chance to meet, learn from and develop friendships with peers from around the world. They got to compare and contrast experiences and learn first-hand about other cultures.

“Right from the first day we were exposed to many different cultures and backgrounds, and we soon made friends with people from Greece, Turkey, USA, Russia, Dubai, Venezuela, Spain and many others,” says Umar, St Albans Academy, Birmingham.

“My roommate originated from Mexico and it was good to get a glimpse of his world and what’s important to him” Isaac, Globe Academy.

Students were overwhelmingly positive about Philip Exeter and their summer in America. With tears shed, Ark students returned home with new skills and experiences, new friends and memories that will last them a lifetime.