Out of Town P-Weeks: Is One Week Worth It?

By Stephanie Racker Students of the Latin School know and love Project Week, as it gives everyone a chance to explore and grow in ways that the typical academic schedule does not allow. With a wide variety of choices for students, it is an extremely popular part of the school year. Those who chose to travel overseas for Project Week have many options as well. Whether it’s California or Peru, these out of town projects take place all over the world and many last no longer than roughly one week. This begs the question, how practical are these out of town projects given their short time span? Each project week that does not take place in Chicago is an extremely unique and innovative experience that has been rigorously planned out by faculty members to ensure it is a worthwhile endeavor. However, although these trips are beneficial because students are exposed to new cultures and ideas, due to the short amount of time given, students often can never truly immerse themselves or fully experience what the country/state they are visiting has to offer. Not only is it difficult for students to develop a sense of familiarity with their new surroundings, cost is also an important aspect of out of town projects. Traveling can be expensive, which is why most stay as long as possible at a specific destination in order to get their “money’s worth.” On out of town project weeks, this flexibility is not possible due to the rigid deadline of the return trip. The average out of town Project Week costs roughly $3000 per individual, including ones that only last one week. Therefore because of the price for one individual to travel, it might not be worth it to spend so little time when students must spend so much. That being said, the price of project week is far cheaper than how much it would cost one family to travel overseas. Most airline tickets end up costing around $3000 per person for overseas travel round trip, so for a family of four to simply fly it costs roughly $12000, excluding the other trip expenses such as hotels and transportation. Although the individual price of Project Weeks may look daunting, it is quite cheap in comparison to a family trip overseas.   Besides the logistics of these out of town trips, many students feel these one week projects are very rewarding. Freshman Lori Der Sahakian felt strongly about the success of the Paris Project Week she attended, saying, “The trip was a week, but it felt so much longer. Not because it was boring, but because we did so many fun things back to back. We did not waste a single second.” This type of response was reiterated by many students who also believed their out of town Project Week was a fulfilling experience, despite the time crunch. To say the least, the majority of out of town students felt their project week was worthwhile. Not only do students believe in the importance of these out of town Project Weeks, but teachers also feel the weight and significance of them. Mr. Lea, the chorus director, spoke highly of the Paris Project Week remarking, “Any travel abroad to any place is good for young people to experience. Travel is how we get out of our comfort zone and are truly challenged by other people and other ideas. It is good for growth and for humans, in general, when you are growing and learning about the world in which we live.” Despite there being downsides (expense, time constraint, etc.) to out of town projects, they provide a unique experience that cannot be provided within the confines of the classroom. To simply be exposed to a different culture is crucial to a student’s growth and knowledge of the world. The end result of out of town Project Weeks are a new sense of community between students who may have never gotten the chance to be a part of something like this before, a greater sense of understanding about a specific lifestyle they may not be accustomed to, and an overall positive outlook on the time spent outside of Chicago. In the end, project weeks that occur out of town are an important aspect of this program and are beneficial no matter what their length. ]]>