During spring break, Upper School students took Principia learning abroad to Israel and South Africa. Students in the Advanced Bible Seminar traveled though Israel and the Holy Land, diving deeper into familiar Bible stories. At the same time, juniors and seniors participated in a service trip to South Africa, supporting the work of nonprofit organization The Simunye Project. Each trip allowed students to expand their learning and shine their light in a new place.
Throughout their exploration of Israel, students listened to talks about Bible topics given by
Upper School bible studies teacher Evan MacDonald (US’94, C’06). For Luke Berberich, who will be a junior in the fall, the discussion on healing during a visit to the Church of Magdala changed his perception of gratitude and its role in healing. Meg Henderson (also class of 2024) found the discussion on different types of love—agape, eros, etc.—helped her rethink her world view and interactions with others.
Along with riveting discussions, the Israel trip explored historical sites, churches, synagogues, and breathtaking landscapes. Students took in views of the Sea of Galilee while discussing Mary Magdalene and Simon the Pharisee and explored Tabgha where Jesus fed the 5,000. They bundled up for a trip to snowy Mount Hermon between Galilee and Capernaum and traveled to the Dome of the Rock and the Pool of Bethesda.
Students also enjoyed immersing themselves in the culture of Israel. Berberich was amazed by the beauty of the environment and the kindness of the people they met on their journey. “The concept of hospitality is shown many times over in stories from the Bible,” he says, “and the people we met in Israel reflected that hospitality in an inspiring and gracious way.”
In South Africa, students had the opportunity to engage with the Roodeport community and built a school garden as an additional food source for local students. Nina Okike, who will be a senior, describes the experience as a chance to let go of ego and listen to the needs of the community. “We tuned in to what the people wanted as we built the garden,” says Okike. “We had to dispose of our ideal of what a garden should be. ‘Is this how you want it?’ ‘Is this good?’ ‘Do you like this color?’ Questions like this were an essential part of the project.” Interacting with a new community and understanding its needs gave students an occasion to offer meaningful support while allowing local community members to lead the way.
Whether hiking through Israel or sowing seeds in South Africa, Principia students are deepening their education through experiential learning and acts of service.