Travel Programs

Traveling to other countries embodies the mission of Thayer Academy, as it enriches the educational experience for all who participate. Along with a fresh outlook on their own education, students report a marked growth in self-confidence, an overall increase in sophistication, and a degree of language acquisition far exceeding what is possible in the classroom alone. Further value accrues to the larger Thayer community when we welcome onto our campus and into our homes students and faculty from Thayer Academy’s sister schools.

Upper School Programs

Exchange Programs

The need for true global citizenship is more important than ever. For many, the first chance to sample cultural differences comes through a student exchange program. To that end, Thayer has cultivated a rich set of sister-school exchanges, some of which grow out of our foreign language instruction. In this way, the Academy and its students develop long-term relationships with schools and students in other countries. These programs include visits to Thayer by foreign students. If you and your family are interested in hosting one of our guests from abroad, please contact Darah Smoot Harper ( / 781.664.2213).

Wei Yu High School - Shanghai, China
  • Offered every year in May as a Senior Project opportunity. Students from China visit Thayer in the fall.
  • Faculty Contact: Jenn Welch, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Director of International Student Enrollment 
    ( / 781.664.2219)


The China Senior project consists of two parts: research/ preparation, and travel throughout China. The first 2.5 weeks of the Senior project will be conducted at Thayer Academy. The group will be learning about culture, customs, food, political climate, economy, and the three cities the group will be traveling to. The students will also be working in pairs on a research project that will be presented to the rest of the group.

The second half of the Senior project will be traveling to three different cities in China: Beijing, Hangzhou, and Shanghai. In China, the group will visit a number of important and historical landmarks such as Tian ‘an Men Square, The Forbidden City, The Great Wall, and The West Lake. Upon arrival in Shanghai, the group will meet their student hosts at The Wei Yu School, Thayer Academy’s sister school. Thayer students will spend the weekend with their host families and explore the dynamic city of Shanghai.

Lycée Stanislas - Cannes, France


Students on bikes in France

The Senior Project in France offers an immersion program of activities aiming to provide students with a culminating appreciation of French culture, language and history. This seven-day home-stay on the French Riviera followed by a five-day exploration of Paris and its environs promises enrichment opportunities at once exciting and educational.

In Cannes, students participate in an authentic student-to- student exchange with the Lycée Stanislas, one of France’s finest secondary schools. The Cannes International Film Festival winds down during our stay, so students will feel some of the excitement and pizazz that annually gathers movie stars, cinephiles and paparazzi. Day-trips bring us to Nice, the Château de La Napoule, l’Ile Saint-Honorat, and the Fragonard Museum in Grasse; evenings spent largely en famille extend opportunities for immersion in French language and culture.

In Paris, we stay four nights in a 4-star hotel on the right bank, and enjoy meals in selected restaurants that serve traditional French food. Our stay in Paris includes: a dinner-cruise on the river Seine; the iconic sights and monuments of Paris; walking tours of historic gardens and quartiers; museum visits; a market visit in Versailles, followed by picnic and bike-ride in the gardens of the palace.

Please note that all participants in this program must also meet the requirements of a complementary senior project during the two weeks prior to traveling. We require that this portion of the senior project be service-oriented.

CHIREC School - Hyderabad, India
  • Offered every year in December/January. Students from India usually visit Thayer in the fall.
  • Open to all Upper School students.
  • Faculty Contact: Darah Smoot Harper, Director of International Exchange Programs ( / 781.664.2213)



This sister-school program has been in existence for over seven years and provides students an experience with the world’s second most populous nation and tenth-largest economy. The CHIREC School is located in Hyderabad, India, the country’s second-leading technology center. The trip includes a homestay with Indian families and excursions to Agra, to view the Taj Mahal, and Delhi, one of the world’s great capitals.

Spain - Madrid, Toledo, the Galicia region in the city of Vigo
  • Offered every other year in June. Students from Galicia visit Thayer for 4 weeks in the summer, typically from end of June to end of July.
  • Open to all Upper School students who have completed 2 years of a language.
  • Faculty Contact: Marc Rando, Foreign Language Department Head ( / 781.664.2283)


Students around a statue in Spain

This 12-day trip includes tours of Madrid, Toledo, and Salamanca. Students have a homestay for 5-6 days in Galicia. In Madrid, students see the great Spanish masterpieces in the Museo del Prado, visit the most important bullfighting venue, and see the home of soccer giant Real Madrid. In Toledo, we take a trip back in time as we visit a city begun by the Romans and influenced by Christian, Jewish and Muslim presence since the Middle Ages. Salamanca, home to one of Europe's oldest and most prestigious universities, serves as our midway point in the trip to Vigo, where students will spend time with families in a homestay.

Travel Programs with a Service Component

Peru - Cusco & Ollantaytambo
  • Offered every year in May as a Senior Project opportunity.
  • Open to all seniors.
  • Faculty Contact: Terri Lukens, Upper School Spanish Teacher ( / 781.664.2269)


A student with children in Peru

We spend the first part of the trip in Cusco, Peru, working in an orphanage, touring ancient Incan sites and exploring this beautiful colonial city in the Andes. We live in a large guest house with our host family near the center. After five days we go to the small town of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley, live with local families and do agricultural service. We experience traditional life in rural Peru. We then hike the Inca Trail and visit Machu Picchu. This trip offers an authentic cultural experience.

The couple that directs the program in Peru is the key to this wonderful experience. Chivi Uscamayta recently finished a term as the Assistant Mayor of Cusco and has dedicated her life to helping those in need. Julio Lopez is one of the foremost travel agents in Peru and an expert on Peruvian history and culture.

This is a challenging trip in many ways. We live and eat simply. We are very physically active and have one 6-7 hour hike. Our two days of farm work are strenuous.

We see a lot of poverty and coming face to face with the reality of orphanage life is not easy. We are constantly in situations in which students are expected to reach across language and cultural barriers.

Students Shoulder-to-Shoulder - Various Destinations
  • Offered every summer.
  • Domestic travel programs open to 8th graders; domestic and international programs open to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors.
  • Faculty Contact: Erica Archabal ( / 781.664.2202)


Students Shoulder to Shoulder

Since February 2014, Thayer has maintained a rewarding alliance with Students Shoulder-to-Shoulder (SStS), a non-profit organization promoting experiential learning, service, ethical leadership, and global citizenship. Since the summer of 2014, over 20 Thayer students have traveled with SStS to such foreign destinations as Bolivia, Nicaragua, Kenya, and Cambodia; and to domestic locations such as Detroit, New Orleans, and South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation. Over that time, two Thayer faculty have served as trip counselors. All involved have reported tremendous excitement about these SStS offerings and profound and lasting impressions left by the experiences. In the coming years, we hope to see continued Thayer participation in the broad array of programs offered by SStS.

As envisioned, our relationship with Students Shoulder-to-Shoulder has demonstrated value on a number of fronts. Among other things, this program...

  • Complements Thayer's mission as we seek to inspire our students toward excellence, achievement, and contributions “to the common good”
  • Offers Thayer students access to a set of truly intriguing and unique travel experiences
  • Encourages an ethos of global citizenship that will augment our current Learning-Through-Travel efforts
  • Provides valuable professional development opportunities for Thayer faculty members, more of whom we hope will become SStS course instructors
  • Corresponds fittingly with our Global Scholars Program, which has been so well-received by so many elements of the Thayer community

Our membership in the Global Schools Coalition assures one spot for a Thayer student on each of the SStS trips. Those spots are held until February 15, after which student applications from non-member schools are considered. A limited amount of financial assistance is available. To apply for aid, please email Mr. Koskores ( and share, in one paragraph, why you want to participate in this program.

The Dominican Republic
  • Offered every other year in March.
  • Open to Upper School students studying Spanish.
  • Faculty Contact: Gloria Blanco, Upper School Spanish Teacher ( / 781.664.2321)


Students with children from the Dominican Republic

This service and learning trip to the Dominican Republic includes service work, a Spanish language course and exploring the beauty of the island. Thayer currently partners with IIC (Institute Intercultural del Caribe) and Project Esperanza to achieve our goals of having a meaningful week in a Caribbean Spanish-speaking country. Students perfect their Spanish in interactions with the children and through the experience of daily living with Dominican families.

Study Abroad Programs

The Ancient World - Greece
  • Offered every year in May as a Senior Project opportunity.
  • Open to all seniors.
  • Faculty Contact: Callie Schneider, Upper School Latin Teacher ( / 781.664.2233)


Students visiting the Parthenon

This Senior Project to Greece is a capstone experience for Thayer students. Greece, considered to be the "Cradle of Western Civilization," has had profound influence on the literature we read, the art we admire, and the societies in which we live. Our driver, Dionysus, will pick us up from the airport on a private bus in which we will travel for the duration of our trip. We spend the first few and the last few days of the trip staying in the heart of Athens, situated between the Plaka and Syntagma Square. We walk in the footsteps of great minds that created democracy, philosophy, theater, etc.

From Athens, we head to the Peloponnese through Corinth. Here we witness the city and its naturally fortified citadel that dominated trade in the ancient Mediterranean, recite the words of Saint Paul ("Love is patient, love is kind...") from the exact bema from which he spoke them, and hike the Akrocorinth to take in the commanding views of the Gulf of Corinth from the most impressive monolith of all of mainland Greece.

From Corinth, we venture to Nafplio, Greece's original capital, in the Argolid for two nights. Thayer students on this trip in previous years have dubbed Nafplio "the Newport, RI, of Greece," due to the charm of this seaside town. While staying in Nafplio, we explore Agamemnon's home of Mycenae, we sing and recite poetry in the impressive Theater of Epidauros, hike 1,000 steps up to the Venetian Palamidi Fortress, and spend some time relaxing at Tolo Beach where we swim to a small island to visit the church there.

Next stop is ancient Olympia, home to the first ancient Olympic Games dating back to the 8th century BC. In addition to racing in the ancient Olympic stadium, we also enjoy swimming and a hands-on cooking class at a local establishment run by Greek women. After feasting on delicious Greek cuisine for several days, it is fun to try our hand in making the food that we are coming to love so much.

From Olympia, we head to the Ionian Island Zakynthos for two nights via a one-hour ferry ride from the port Kyllini. In Zakynthos, we soak up all that this beautiful island has to offer. We visit a museum to learn how olive oil is made, kayak through the Blue Caves, take a boat ride to "Shipwreck Beach," and visit a nesting ground for loggerhead sea turtles.

After our fun on Zakynthos Island, we head back to the main land on the ferry to Mount Parnassus to the famous site of Apollo's oracle, Delphi. Here, at the "bellybutton" of the ancient world we enjoy the crisp mountain air and breathtaking views of the valley of Phocis stretching to the Gulf of Corinth after a hike up to stadium at the peak of this sanctuary site. Next, we head back to Athens, stopping for lunch and shopping in Arachova, an alpine resort town with great restaurants and artisanal shops.

Back in Athens, we enjoy authentic Greek music and dancing in a taverna in the Plaka, as well as a trip to the renowned National Archaeological Museum. On our final afternoon in Greece, we take a quick trip to the serene and idyllic Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, the southernmost tip of Attica. At Sounion, we take in the majesty of the expansive Aegean Sea while telling stories from Greek mythology and history. Returning to Athens, we enjoy one last dinner together under the illumination of the Acropolis

Throughout this trip, students and chaperones read excerpts from literature pertinent to each site; we consider the chronology of Greek history; we examine how the ancient landscape shaped the culture; we reflect on our own customs and values. This is a trip that will awaken an academic curiosity in each student as we learn by experiencing the landscapes that beautiful Greece has been offering to "Westerners" for thousands of years.

Marine Science - Bahamas
  • Offered every year in May as a Senior Project opportunity.
  • Open to all seniors.
  • Faculty Contact: Don Donovan, Upper School Science Faculty ( / 781.664.2216)



This Senior Project spends the first few weeks learning about marine research. We then travel to Hatherly School in Scituate and teach 5th graders about sharks, whales, pollution in the ocean, and endangered species.

The second part of the Senior Project we spend on Grand Exuma Island, The Bahamas, tagging sharks with Thayer alumnus Dr. Austin Gallagher '04 for his NGO Beneath the Waves. The students put tags on 4 different species of sharks, catalog their measurements, and take DNA, muscle, and blood samples. In this way they can learn more about the sharks' health and quality of the ocean. Along with that, they work side-by-side with Bahamian high school students building underwater observation equipment for their own projects through the Exuma Foundation.

Artists in Residence - Cortona, Italy
  • Offered every other year in June.
  • Offered to students in all grade levels, 9-12.
  • Faculty Contact: Karen Koskores. Upper School Painting & Drawing Teacher ( / 781.664.2240)


A view of the countryside

The goals of this program are to enable student artists to study and appreciate some of the world's greatest works of art and to nurture their own talents with field and studio work under the close supervision of Thayer Academy faculty. This experience complements Thayer's painting & drawing curriculum for art students.

Middle School Programs

La Culture Québécoise
  • Offered every other year in June.
  • Open to rising 8th and 9th grade students of French.
  • Faculty Contact: Angela Toussaint, Middle School Foreign Language Department Head ( / 781.664.2320)



Mme Toussaint invites you to explore the fascinating history and culture of Québec, one of the most “European” cities in North America.

This linguistic and cultural excursion will be chaperoned by Mme Toussaint, and her husband, Thayer sixth grade teacher Jeff Toussaint. The city of Québec is the center of French culture in Canada, and the Old City, inside the walls pictured above, is reminiscent of villages all over France. Although there is no homestay element to this program, business and everyday conversation are conducted almost exclusively in French, which gives our students a chance to hear French spoken in the daily lives of everyday Canadian citizens. This trip will provide an authentic language experience for our middle school French students.

For More Information

To learn more about Thayer Academy's travel programs, please contact:

Darah Smoot Harper
Upper School French Teacher and Director of International Exchange Programs



Darah Harper

Darah Harper

Upper School Class Dean 2019, Director of International Exchange Programs

Regan O'Donnell"I’m an adventurous person and I love to travel, and Thayer’s had a big part in that. When I graduate, I will have gone on three trips through Thayer: the Dominican Republic, Spain, and China." - Regan O'Donnell '16