Global Focus

At Blake, students learn to think of themselves as true citizens of the world. Academic coursework emphasizes communicating across cultural and language barriers. Students work together to explore and address global issues ranging from hunger to healthcare access. Service learning initiatives, including field experiences, create additional connections that span the globe. Finally, our global programs and involvement with the Global Online Academy help students make international connections, online and off.

Global Programs

Students at Blake have numerous opportunities to study and travel abroad or elsewhere in the United States:

  • Semester- and year-long international study programs take students to countries as diverse as Switzerland, China, France, Italy, Spain, Vietnam and Japan.
  • Many students take shorter trips abroad lasting from two to six weeks. Often these trips have a service-learning focus, such as involvement in village self-sufficiency programs that improve the quality of rural life in these villages. Countries visited include Peru, South Africa, and Sierra Leone.
  • Students also participate in study-away programs in the United States, such as a semester at the School for Ethics and Global Leadership (SEGL) in Washington, D.C., CITYterm in New York City, High Mountain Institute (HMI) in Colorado, or School Year Abroad in France, China, Italy and Spain.

For further details, visit our Global Programs page.

Field Experiences

Field experiences closer to home also help students connect with other people from around the world. For example, we partner with other schools in the Twin Cities region that serve immigrant communities. Students visit peers at other schools such as the Cedar Riverside School, which serves a predominantly Somali-American community.

Global Online Academy

Blake is part of the Global Online Academy, a consortium of schools that connects students and teachers worldwide to offer rigorous online courses. Courses offered include Digital Journalism, Bioethics, and International Macroeconomics – to name just a few. For a complete listing, check out our Upper School Course Catalog.

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Legend

Abu Dhabi, UAE
Ankara, Turkey
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Minneapolis, MN
Naivasha, Kenya
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sanawar, India
Tokaname, Japan
United Kingdom
Chiapas, Mexico
Cuba
Burundi
Santiago, Chile
Jakarta, Indonesia
Madaba, Jordan
Columbus, Ohio
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Zaragoza, Spain
Barcelona, Spain
Zermatt, Switzerland
Cuernavaca, Mexico
Cite Soleil, Haiti
Catalonia, Spain
Warlingham, United Kingdom
Qingdao, China
Helsinki, Finland
Greece
Sicily, Italy
Tamale, Ghana
Pokrovskoye, Russia
Vietnam
Segovia, Spain
Chicago, Illinois
Washington, D.C.
Sichuan, China
Monrovia, Liberia
Kazakhstan
New Zealand
Beijing, China
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Kranjska Gora, Slovenia
Tokyo, Japan
Oslo, Norway
Cape Town, South Africa
France
McMurdo Station, Antarctica

Map Points 2

AbuDhabi, UAE
Erica Dolland '98 talking to woman

Erica Dolland '98 is head of faculty for the Abu Dhabi Education Council where she develops and leads professional development, evaluates teacher performance, guides curriculum implementation and consults with administration. “Living in Abu Dhabi has taught me the importance of humility," Dolland says. “I'm committed to being a lifelong learner, and working in education gives me rich life experiences."

Ankara, Turkey
Clara Arnold '07

Clara Arnold '07 graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2011 with a degree in Middle Eastern history. She moved to Turkey and currently teaches English to first and third graders at a school in Ankara. In addition to educating young learners, she has taught both general and business English throughout Turkey and has provided Turkish-English translation.

BuenosAires, Argentina
César Crespi '78 with friends

César Crespi '78 attended Blake as an international student from Argentina during the 1977-78 school year. He currently lives in Buenos Aires, where he owns his own commercial architecture firm. His affection for Blake and the friends he made remains strong, and the feeling is mutual. He has returned to Minneapolis for class reunions and has also hosted many Blake friends and their family members in his hometown.

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Bake Upper School student a laptop

Blake is the only school in Minnesota that is a member of the Global Online Academy, a consortium of schools that connects students and teachers around the world. The online program replicates the intellectually rigorous courses that are hallmarks of GOA member schools. Students learn in a global setting, alongside teachers and classmates from all over the world, contributing their diverse viewpoints and experiences.

Naivasha, Kenya
Nan Peterson with Light of Hope students

Blake's relationship with Light of Hope began in 2007 when Service Learning Director Nan Peterson visited the home and school for girls in Naivasha, Kenya. Since then, Blake students from pre-kindergarten through Upper School have led service projects that support Light of Hope, and groups of students and teachers have visited the school to meet the girls and volunteer their time.

Riode Janeiro, Brazil
Blake Upper School and Lissen School students sitting in truck

In spring 2013, nine Blake Upper School students participated in a weeklong international service trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At the REGUA Ecological Reserve, the students planted trees and collected seeds from the forest for a germination trial to help protect the Atlantic Rainforest and the species native to it. Visiting the Liessen School, the Blake students also learned what school is like for their Brazilian peers.

Sanawar, India
Lawerence School

Over spring break, a group of Blake students and teachers experience life in an independent school far from home. The Lawrence School in Sanawar, India, welcomes the group to its community and Blake reciprocates by hosting Lawrence School students, who attend Upper School classes and enjoy the sites of the city.

Tokaname, Japan
Jim Spector and student at potter wheel

Upper School art teacher Jim Spector took part in an international ceramics residency program in Tokaname, Japan. Influenced by Japanese ceramic forms and techniques, Spector built two new pottery kilns for his students to help them understand the ceramic process more comprehensively. Introducing a raku and down-draft smoking kiln gives students the opportunity to participate in pottery firings of a very different nature.

United Kingdom
Joe Druskin

Lower School engineering and programming specialist Joe Druskin uses a unit on bridge building to teach engineering concepts to second and third graders. To deepen his background knowledge of bridges and bring historical perspective to his lessons, Druskin traveled throughout England and Wales visiting the bridges that formed the foundation of his curriculum.

Chiapas, Mexico
Popol Vuh book jacket

Upper School English teacher and poet Mike Bazzett traveled to Chiapas, Mexico, on a Hersey Summer Sabbatical in 2011. His travels prepared him for a monumental undertaking: translate into English a text that originated from a centuries-old Mayan oral narrative. The translation of the Popol Vuh was published by Milkweed Editions in October 2018.

Cuba
Cuban street scene

Blake launches a summer global immersion experience in Cuba that includes 21 days of travel, as well as pre- and post-travel coursework and reflection. Upper School students have extended opportunities for in-country service projects and community engagement and receive a social studies course credit for the immersion experience. Travel sites include Havana, Sancti Spiritus, Ciego de Avila and Santa Clara.

Burundi
Dziwe Ntaba '90 and patients

Blake alumnus and emergency medicine doctor Dziwe Ntaba '90 is co-founder of Village Health Works, a nonprofit that collaborates with local communities to deliver medical interventions in Burundi, East Africa. In 2014, he moved to West Africa to direct training programs for volunteers from around the world helping to fight Ebola. Dr. Ntaba spoke at Blake on the power of community and global health. Watch his presentation.

Santiago, Chile
Blake student performing with Inti-Illimani

Blake Upper School students performed a 2015 benefit concert for the Sol de Illimani arts high school in Santiago, Chile. The students sang and played panpipes with the world-renown Chilean folk ensemble Inti-Illimani. A group of more than 300 turned out for the concert, which took place in Minneapolis. About a thousand people worldwide watched the Inti-Illimani show via live stream.

JakartaIndonesia.jpg
Madaba, Jordan
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Blake is partnering with King's Academy in Jordan on delivering a Big History course for Global Online Academy, a network of leading independent schools from around the world. Big History curriculum aims to teach students 13.8 billion years of history in one semester. Rather than focusing on a chronological telling of events, history is explored on multiple scales of time and space to reveal unifying themes in knowledge.

Through online video and other digital platforms, Blake Upper School students connect with fellow classmates throughout the country and world to explore the idea that we all share the same human history, regardless of where we live. Other partnering schools are the Jakarta Intercultural School in Indonesia and Columbus Academy in Ohio.

Columbus, Ohio
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Blake is partnering with Columbus Academy in Ohio on delivering a Big History course for Global Online Academy, a network of leading independent schools from around the world. Big History curriculum aims to teach students 13.8 billion years of history in one semester. Rather than focusing on a chronological telling of events, history is explored on multiple scales of time and space to reveal unifying themes in knowledge.

Through online video and other digital platforms, Blake Upper School students connect with fellow classmates throughout the country and world to explore the idea that we all share the same human history, regardless of where we live. Other partnering schools are the Jakarta Intercultural School in Indonesia and King's Academy in Jordan.

HoChiMinhCity, Vietnam
Trinh Nguyen in Blake class

During the 2015-16 school year, Trinh Nguyen of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam joined Blake’s sophomore class and immersed herself in full student experience. She played soccer and alpine skied for the Bears, traveled to Chicago to participate in a Model United Nations conference, contributed to Upper School service groups and explored the Twin Cities with her new Blake friends and host family.

Zaragoza, Spain
Cristina Luzón Borobio playing basketball

Cristina Luzón Borobio of Zaragoza, Spain explored new cultures, customs and activities as she spent her high school sophomore year at Blake. Cris played tennis and basketball for the Bears, tutored Middle School students through the Bear-to-Bear tutoring program and participated in We Day, a celebration of youth making a difference in local and global communities.

Barcelona, Spain
Laia Tudó Domingo and Lower School Spanish teachers

Blake's Lower School Spanish proficiency program, in which all students participate daily, is enhanced by the contributions of an Amity intern from a Spanish-speaking country who supports teachers and students. Laia Tudó Domingo, whose hometown is near Barcelona, Spain, is the 2018-19 Amity intern on the Highcroft campus.

Zermatt, Switzerland
Blake students in Zermatt

Blake is an original sponsoring member of the Swiss Semester program, which was founded in 1986. Each year, Blake sophomores have the opportunity to study abroad in Zermatt, Switzerland, through this program that draws upon the challenges and the beauty of the mountains and learning opportunities of travel and very small classes. Swiss Semester provides interested and qualified students with a transformative experience.

Cuernavaca, Mexico
Blake Upper school students in Cuernavaca, Mexico

Blake students have been traveling to Cuernavaca, Mexico, for a five-week family homestay and Spanish study program since 2003. The immersion experience gives students a super-concentrated dose of language and culture and teaches them how to be independent travelers who can take control of their own cultural encounters.

CiteSoleil, Haiti
Jack Moe '18 and Sam Shapiro '18 carrying Haitian children

Jack Moe '18 and Sam Shapiro '18 started the nonprofit Sprint to Cite Soleil, a basketball program for children in one of Haiti's poorest cities. All donations go to hiring and training coaches and providing jerseys, equipment, water and food for the participants. During breaks from school, Moe and Shapiro have traveled to Haiti to help run the camps and clinics.

Catalonia, Spain
Maite Esteve with Linke family

In 1991, 15-year-old Maite Esteve of Catalonia, Spain, spent the school year at Blake and lived with the Linke family. Though more than 25 years have passed, time and distance never compromised the lifelong bond forged between Esteve and her host family. Each considers the other family. Esteve's 10-year-old daughter traveled on her own to spend this past summer with the Linkes. Read more in "Finding Home Abroad."

Warlingham, United Kingdom
J Jolton '78

Upper School media arts teacher J Jolton '78 received a sabbatical to work with an indie game developer on a new game. Throughout the year, Jolton is also developing his own virtual reality project. He has plans to do additional traveling to meet with game developers in different companies about their processes and to take in some culture and food.

Qingdao, China
David Duckler '05

David Duckler '05, owner of Verdant Tea, originally connected with teahouse owners, tea farmers and tea masters in China as part of his research into the folklore of tea. He launched his business in 2011 with the idea of paying forward the hospitality and knowledge he received from those who generously opened up their shops, fields and homes to him. Read more in "Farm to Cup."

Helsinki, Finland
Nathan Ratner '05 medical badge

Nathan Ratner '05 is a medical student at the University of Minnesota. He was one of 16 medical students worldwide, and the sole representative of the United States, selected to participate in Elsevier Hacks. Working with developers and designers in an innovative workspace in Helsinki, Ratner and other participants designed and built solutions to solve challenges in medical education.

Greece
%22Places in Greece Every Woman Should Go%22 book jacket

Archeologist and award-winning travel writer Amanda Summer Slavin '74 published the book "100 Places in Greece Every Woman Should Go," in which she introduces the temples, shrines, grottos and churches of this magnificent country. With style, intelligence and personal anecdotes, Slavin intricately weaves stories of Greek women — from goddesses to artistic legends like Melina Mercouri and Maria Callas.

Sicily, Italy
Jenifer Neils '68

Jenifer Neils '68, an internationally renowned scholar of ancient Greek and Roman art, is the first female director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Her five-year directorship started with the excavation of a temple in Sicily. Neil called the project "the best of both worlds because it's studying the Greeks in Italy."

Tamale, Ghana
Fatawu Sayibu playing drums

Ghana-born Fatawu Sayibu spent months teaching Blake's Lower School students how to drum and dance. Beyond the excitement of performing, the students found themselves profoundly impacted by the stories Sayibu shared about the culture and people, especially the children, of Ghana. Inspired, the students organized a drive for clothing and shoes for Sayibu to share with school children back home.

Pokrovskoye, Russia
Douglas Smith '81

Historian and author Douglas Smith '81 visited the home village of one of the most infamous figures in Russian history, Grigory Rasputin. In his biography, "Rasputin: Faith, Power and the Twilight of the Romanovs," Smith delved deep into the lore surrounding the Mad Monk, who was more complex and perhaps more historically significant than anyone previously thought. Read more in "Minding the Mad Monk" (Cyrus Summer 2017).

Vietnam
Students walking on path

Blake's summer global immersion experience in Vietnam includes 21 days of travel, as well as pre- and post-travel coursework and reflection. Upper School students have opportunities for in-country service and community engagement. The itinerary includes time in Hanoi, Sapa, Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta. Watch a student-produced video documenting the group's travels in Vietnam and find photos on Flickr.

Segovia, Spain
Marta Porta Morán

Blake's Lower School Spanish proficiency program, in which all students participate daily, is enhanced by the contributions of an Amity intern from a Spanish-speaking country who supports teachers and students. Marta Porta Morán from Segovia, Spain, is the 2018-19 Amity intern on the Blake campus.

Chicago, Illinois
Blake Upper School students at Model United Nations

All Blake Upper School students have the opportunity to participate in the Model United Nations (MUN) club. Currently about 70 students take part, digging into geopolitical issues and honing their public speaking, negotiating, collaborating and life skills and learning the art of compromise. Students practice in the fall for mid-year tournaments, one of which takes place at the University of Chicago.

Washington D. C.
Blake Upper School students

All Blake Upper School students have the opportunity to participate in the Model United Nations (MUN) club. Currently about 70 students take part, digging into geopolitical issues and honing their public speaking, negotiating, collaborating and life skills and learning the art of compromise. Students practice in the fall for mid-year tournaments, including the North American Invitational Model United Nations, which is the largest high school MUN conference in the Western Hemisphere and takes place in Washington, D.C.

Sichuan, China
Khyle Eastin '12

Khyle Eastin '12 served as a Peace Corps volunteer in China, where he taught oral English to English majors at the Sichuan University of Science and Engineering. He was selected by his peers to be a Sichuan Province Volunteer Advisory Committee representative, a role that allowed him to practice diplomacy skills and act as a bridge between volunteers and administrators.

Monrovia, Liberia
Leymah Gbowee

During a special Middle School assembly, students rose to their feet with applause for Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist, social worker and women's rights advocate. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate shared stories of young people who are changing the world and encouraged the students to remember that "together as individuals we can make a difference."

Kazakhstan
Cindy Rothschild Kaplan '90

After traveling to Kazakhstan to adopt her son, Cindy Rothschild Kaplan '90 discovered that he and other children were malnourished and sick due to improper feeding. Looking to help organizations working on the problem but finding none, Cindy co-founded her own. Now in its 10th year, SPOON creates and shares tools that bring critical nutrition and feeding practices to children who often go unseen. The organization has worked in 14 countries in Asia, Africa and the former Soviet Union.

New Zealand
Rory Taylor '14

Rory Taylor '14 is traveling on a Fulbright to New Zealand, where he will examine how the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples acts as a tool of legal advocacy for indigenous groups. When he returns to the U.S., Rory plans to attend law school to study the intersection of international law and indigenous rights and begin a career working on indigenous rights across the world.

Beijing, China
Blake students in China

Blake offers a global immersion experience in China, which includes 21 days of travel, as well as pre- and post-travel coursework and reflection. Students have extended opportunities for in-country service and community engagement. Students do not need to be enrolled in Chinese language courses or able to speak Chinese to apply.

Freetown, SierraLeone
Blake Upper School in Sierra Leone

Blake offers a global immersion experience in Sierra Leone, which includes 21 days of travel as well as pre- and post-travel coursework and reflection. This is a partnership with two local partners — One Village Partners (OVP) and Sierra Leone Foundation for New Democracy (SLFND). Students have extended opportunities for in-country service and community engagement. Along the way they learn about and contribute to ongoing village transformation.

Kranjska Gora, Slovenia
Shane Stafford

Director of Debate Shane Stafford attended the World Schools Debate Academy in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, as the recipient of a Hersey Summer Sabbatical. There he learned and networked with international coaches, expanding his work coaching the USA Debate national team and supporting Blake students debating in this format.

Tokyo, Japan
Scott Hollander

Upper School English language arts teacher Scott Hollander studied and documented aspects of Kabuki theater in Tokyo and Osaka to counter students' ethnocentricism by introducing this artform's unique expression of universal human issues.

Oslo, Norway
Coral reefs on the Arctic Ocean

Middle School science teacher Matt Paterakis investigated Norway's adoption of the Three Pillars of Sustainability (environment, society and economics) to engage his students in climate change awareness and environmental advocacy. Thanks to a Fund for Teachers grant, he had the opportunity to explore coral reefs on the Arctic Ocean and then visit the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo.

Cape Town, South Africa
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For two weeks, 17 Blake sophomores and juniors lived with host families and attended classes at Cedar House School in Cape Town, South Africa. The experience allowed students to learn about South Africa's past and present from the perspective of their South African peers. Blake alumnus Ben Gulla '07, an astronomy and Spanish teacher at Cedar House, was there to greet students.

France
David Graham '85

Upper School social studies and Model United Nations coach David Graham '85 used a Lyon History Fund summer grant to explore the historical development of human rights in France, Germany and the Netherlands, with a particular focus on the contemporary experience of refugees in Europe. His visits with organizations supporting refugees in learning English and developing employment opportunities inform both his Upper School social studies courses and his own curricular and volunteer work with refugee and resettlement organizations.

McMurdo Station, Antarctica
Rachel Bowens-Rubin '07

Rachel Bowens-Rubin '07 spent six months at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, where she was responsible for looking after the A. P. Crary Science and Engineering Center, the main National Science Foundation facility on station. This was her third season in Antarctica; during her two previous deployments, Rachel worked as an engineer with the BICEP3 telescope team at South Pole Station.