Twelve students and five parents from Brandon Hall School, the private boarding and day school in Sandy Springs, spent their long President’s Day weekend on much more than rest and relaxation.
They took their second trip to the Bahamas in fewer than six months, volunteering at local schools, churches and nonprofits in a country that has started what looks to be a long effort to recover from Hurricane Dorian, which devastated the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco last September.
They didn’t visit the epicenter of storm’s impact but contributed nonetheless, sorting construction supplies sent from the international community to a Red Cross warehouse in Nassau, the capital.
Other volunteer opportunities helped the students hone their focus on servant leadership, as they manned games and booths at a fundraising carnival put on by the St. Matthews Anglican Church and distributed items donated by a Brandon Hall parent to the Ranfurly Homes For Children, one of the largest such shelters in the Bahamas.
Dean Fusto, the school’s president, told Global Atlanta that the trip underscored Brandon Hall’s commitment to experiential and service learning.
That’s a vital part of the curriculum year-round, but it’s especially emphasized during the summer Center for Global Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurial Studies, a residency attended by local and visiting international students alike that has amassed 10 overseas partner institutions.
“It is part our mission,” Mr. Fusto said, noting that the Bahamas was chosen for this trip in part because of Brandon Hall hosts a good cohort of Bahamian students. “We wanted to gear our services toward kids and communities we serve here. This is really a cooperation with their families in the Bahamas. Some of our Bahamian students spending the holiday back home met us there and helped do the work.”
One of few boarding schools in Georgia, Brandon Hall has a strong global focus, with 28 countries represented among its 150-or-so students. It’s set to begin offering the International Baccalaureate curriculum in the fall. Bermuda has been a destination for previous service trips as well.
The Bahamas Consulate General in Atlanta, which has coordinated the donation of relief items and funds 10 states across the South, was instrumental in connecting Brandon Hall to the local organizations that hosted students on the trip.
Consul General Astra Armbrister-Rolle outlined the country’s recovery efforts at a Global Atlanta Consular Conversation event in January, calling for new donations to go to the government’s new disaster preparedness agency.
She’s seen educational ties built with Georgia since her arrival in 2018 pay dividends in the aftermath of the storm, as universities in particular have taken in Bahamian students and deepened their exchange programs.
Georgia State University is one of those, with a new program welcoming high-achieving students from the smaller “family” islands, as well as a project in which faculty members from the Andrew Young School’s International Center for Public Policy are conducting a feasibility study to assess Grand Bahama island’s opportunities to grow its tech hub.
Of course, when in the Bahamas, it also makes sense to spend a little time at the beach. In their downtime, students spent time at the Atlantis Aquaventure Water Park and Blue Lagoon island, where they took part in a dolphin encounter, a stingray interaction and the feeding of a nurse shark.
Learn more at www.brandonhall.org.
Editor’s note: Brandon Hall is an annual advertiser with Global Atlanta and is the presenting sponsor of the publication’s education coverage.