Gone Global Blog

The Global Studies Program at Tampa Prep

Students at Tampa Prep can choose an academic concentration in Global Studies or STEM. Follow this blog for a glimpse at the Global Studies Program at Tampa Prep – including exciting visitors, unique events and international experiences.

Sebastian is currently studying abroad in Zaragoza, Spain for one year.

By Sebastian Lancaster '18

Challenge Accepted, Spain! This week started out with visiting a beautiful city called Alquezár. We spent Monday and Tuesday there, and traveled to see prehistoric cave paintings and went swimming in crystal clear water. After that amazing trip, we began our first few days of classes. I love school here.

I have six classes total:

  • Spanish History and Politics
  • History of Spanish Art
  • Environmental Science
  • English
  • Algebra 2
  • AP Spanish

All of my classes are in Spanish except for Math and English class. Although I sometimes have absolutely no clue what my teachers are saying, I usually understand the gist of the conversations. We have to speak Spanish whenever we are in the center of the school or are in Spanish classes. This is exhausting.

We have 1-2 free periods a day, where we can choose to leave the school and walk to get something to eat or stay at school. I usually stay at school, so I can study and get homework done. This means I am spending a lot of time in the sitting area at the center of the school speaking lots and lots of Spanish.

I have been here for 13 days, and my Spanish has improved dramatically. Now, don't get me wrong, I am still terrible at Spanish, but I am 100% less terrible then I was when I arrived. I am studying loads and trying to have conversations with my "madre de España" as often as I can, and it really is paying off. This, weekend, I hung out with a bunch of new friends. We ate at an amazing Tapas restaurant, hung out by the river and did homework in multiple cafes. It was amazing to just sit with friends, drinking cafe con leche and watching people and cars go by, while completing homework. Everything here is walking distance, and I walk absolutely everywhere with my friends. I cannot wait to be fluent, and I cannot wait to really get to know the city. Until next update, wish me luck!

Former Tampa Prep parent Berhanu Berkele poses with a refugee
gardener while assisting in managing the garden.

By Courtney Zettel '19
As a result of the nearly nine thousand refugee inhabitants, the Tampa Bay area has been transfigured into an exceptionally diverse place. These people had to escape their country in attempt to avoid political unrest, civil war, persecution, etc. Seven years ago, an influx of refugees from Burma arrived in our area. Pastor Joseph Germain of the Global Refuge Community Church and others decided to find a way to provide these people with jobs. St. Mary's Ethiopian Orthodox Church gave about six acres of land off of Causeway Boulevard for a farm. By allowing the refugees to work there, he gave them the opportunity to have a job and create a stable community. It started as purely people coming together to make a difference and change lives. Although the garden alone was not enough to provide stability to the families for a long time, it allowed the refugees to participate in agriculture, which made them comfortable in their new situation due to most of their agricultural backgrounds. In addition, the garden acted as a place of healing from the horrors they experienced that drove them out of their homelands.

Additionally, the refugees' children and the refugees themselves are provided an after-school program to help teach them English and other tools needed to help them adapt to their new lifestyle in the United States free of charge. They are focused primarily on making the future in America easier for young refugees by giving them a good education so they can follow their dreams. Today, people involved in this project are trying to expand the land and facilities and are always extremely grateful of any volunteered service they can receive!

Shocked solely by the number of refugees in Tampa, I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that an institution as important and life-changing as the Tampa Bay Refugee Garden was only miles away without my knowledge. Not only does the garden provide a stable place for the refugees, it produces fresh food with no preservatives! The Tampa Bay Refugee Garden changes the lives of people whose families deserve to have a chance at a bright future without the terrors of incessant violence. I look forward to volunteering my time there.

The Terrapin travelers explore Stiges. Students explore the winding streets of Valencia.

By Sra. Pereira
How does one see half of Spain in 11 days? Travel with Tampa Prep on Spring Break! Fifty-three members of the Tampa Prep community just returned from a trip to Spain that included stops in Barcelona, Valencia, Granada, Costa del Sol, Sevilla, Cordoba and Madrid. Seven intrepid chaperones accompanied the trip: Sra. Pereira, Sr. Pereira, Srta. Fenton, Sr. Ruiz, Mr. Seary, Coach Cool, Mrs. Thomason, and Mrs. Cooner.

The incredible Sevilla chaperones in "El Retiro" park in Madrid.

In addition, the company of a few parents and Tampa Prep faculty members, who enjoyed themselves as much as the students did, made our trip even more memorable. Some of the highlights of the trip included flamenco shows, bike rides, donkey tours, seeing the Easter festivities in Sevilla, the Mezquitain Cordoba, the Royal Palace, eating our way through the markets, a farewell dinner with tapas and traditional live music and our amazing tour director Sjoukje! The students are to be applauded for their curiosity, excitement, punctuality, manners and world-class packing skills!

Students check out Granada. The group takes a break near the Cathedrale of Sevilla.

Seek out these awesome travelers and ask them about what surprised them, what was unforgettable, which was their favorite city and when they want to go back!

One of the group favorites was Mijas,
a village filled
with white buildings.
Travelers were very impressed with
the incredible details of Alhambra.

To understand how much we say and experienced, check out the video blogs below from Lexa Armstrong.

Lexa's Video Blogs:
Costa del Sol and Mijas


Sercan and Samantha visited Global Studies students to speak to them about their company Tembo.

As part of the Global Studies concentration, students have the opportunity to meet with people making a difference in the world. A few weeks ago Tembo Chief Marketing Officer Sercan and Tembo Chief Education Officer Samantha met with Global Studies students to tell them their business and how they are making a difference in the Nigerian slums.

By Brooke Bandoni '17

Tembo is a social enterprise, started here in Tampa, which trains home educators to help parents of children in the slums receive a better fundamental early childhood education. The company was able to partner with major telecommunication companies to enable families to pay for their Tembo services with airtime, or digital currency, which they can acquire from paying for minutes on their feature or smart phones. Tembo trains home educators to visit homes and teach parents how to complete lessons for their children, focusing on fundamental basics that will help them succeed once they enter a school. The lessons are delivered to the home educator and the parent via text message. Parents are incentivized with rewards for completing activities with airtime.

Tembo is a new company, but the company was the runner-up for the prestigious Hult prize. Before implementing their program, they spent three months in a Nigerian slum before implementing their program to be sure that their idea will work and be effective. After learning more about this business and plan to bring education to the poorest families in Nigeria, I believe that this program will be extremely beneficial for children in slums and enable them to have successful futures.

By Caneel Dixon '15
This is final installment of a three-part series from Caneel on her gap year abroad in Italy

One of the questions I have been asked the most during my time here in Italy is, “Which school system do you think is more difficult: Italy’s or that of the United States?” In reality there is no easy answer because there are so many differences, so I’ll point out some of the main ones. *Please excuse my excessive use of run-on sentences and poor English grammar, I’m thinking half in Italian and half English writing this! 

Because classes are formed and remain largely unchanged for the next five years of high school, the students get really close and a class mentality develops. This "team" mentality also transcribes over to when you are taking tests, written or oral. I remember my host dad asking me, "Well, you guys help each other out, right?" (referring to helping each other cheat in class) and my host sister said, "No, they don’t have the same unity as us" or something to that effect.

Other examples include:

After my first day of school, I was starting to do some of my Latin homework (before the school had me change classes to take more italian classes) and immediately a group chat had been formed and the first question was, "Who did the Latin homework?" and within an hour someone had already sent it to the group. That pretty much set the bar for the rest of the year.

When taking a written test, it’s easiest to bring a "biglietto" or little note card with information in to cheat off of, but another common method is whispering. A teacher might be interrupted by the hall monitor and needs to sign something, whisper whisper; another student asks a question, whisper whisper. Everyone breaks out at once comparing answers and asking each other for help. It’s not subtle either, the teachers know what’s happening too, some try to rein the class back in, others just let them carry on.

For oral tests, students can sometimes choose how they want to orientate themselves in regards to the teacher. Often it’s to the side of the teacher so that the student can look out to his or her peers and see their classmates trying to mouth or "cough" the answers to them. It’s rather entertaining to watch.

Cheating really is a problem here and nothing is being done to try and prevent it. It just seems like another part of the school system. There is no honor code or real punishments if you get caught cheating either. Once a guy in my class was caught using a little note card on a history test and his test was taken away, but then he just took it again the next time the class met. Another time, a different student used Google to translate the entire Latin test, and the teacher knew because it was written how a machine translator would write it, thus still having a ton of errors, so the teacher corrected it as so and the student got a 2, which seemed to be punishment enough. One day, I walked into the room I share with my host sister to find her making a formula cheat sheet for math and copying notes into her translation dictionary to use the next day in her Latin test. It was so normal that I almost forgot it wasn’t actually allowed, since everyone else in the class was doing the same exact thing.

Before a test, my math study group would
eat pasta and study together!

Today in my Art class, the other students asked the teacher, who is in her late 60s and planning on retiring after this year (also one of the more serious ones in regards to how she runs her class and cheating), "Come on, teacher. Didn’t you cheat too?" The teacher then replied something along the lines of "Yes, but at a certain level" - not sure if she meant middle school, high school or college, but she wasn’t going to try and deny her "cheating" past either.

Now I’m not so naive as to think that the U.S. or even my own high school didn’t have plenty of people who cheat, but it’s just hard to explain how normal it is here. After coming from somewhere that had an Honor Code and Honor Board that was taken very seriously (as I think it should be), this has been an eye opening experience of a different culture.

Some guys started stealing the math tests from our teachers briefcase when he would go out to get a coffee during or before class and take pictures of them and then send them into the class group chat. After, I was expressing my surprise at the fact that the teacher would just leave the tests in the room and that the other students would know where to look to find them (or that the tests were even there), when a guy in my class asked me, "Well you guys can steal the tests from your teachers' briefcases in America too, right?"

It is so different I didn’t even know where to start to try and explain, but now I’ve had some more time to think about it:

  1. Teachers each have their own classroom, which they lock when they are not in, so you would need to break in and then start looking.
  2. Everything is electronic at our school (in America), so the "briefcase" would be hacking the cloud, and good luck with that.
  3. U.S. students just wouldn’t even think of that because if anything they would try to buy past year's tests, not try to steal the current ones or compare answers with other classes who have already taken the test since friends are mainly outside of your classes.

The bathrooms took a little getting used to, being squat toilets instead of the western style, but by now it’s completely normal. I will admit to looking up how to use one after being here for three months, just to make sure I was doing it right. The teachers have what Americans would call "normal" toilets, except there is no seat on the toilet bowl. In the teacher's restroom they also have a small shower head hooked up with a drain in the middle of the floor.

Student Safety
In my high school, student's safety was always a priority. One way of providing that was having an unobstructed view into every classroom. This meant every door had a window in it that was viewable from the outside or doors were just left open in general. Here, I realized pretty quickly that there were no windows or other ways to see into a class because if you want to enter a class, you need to knock on the door. The class then lets out a chorus of, "Avanti!" meaning "Come in!" to whoever is outside (I believe it’s only supposed to be the teacher who says this and gives the outsider permission to come in, but in reality it’s everyone together). Sometimes these interruptions are from the hall monitors, bringing something for the teacher to sign about a change in schedule for the class (it almost never has anything to do with the teacher in the class at all, but they need proof that an adult was present to tell the students the change). Other times, it is other students asking for Latin dictionaries, calculators or art design tools. You really never know who is going to come through the door, but it always provides a small break in the class which the students always take full advantage of.

Private Schools
Private schools are generally thought to be for the students who would have had to repeat a year at Liceo or who are generally not as smart. Also, although "Liceo" is a public school, very few people transfer in from other schools or other areas because people generally move a lot less. Instead, families tend to all stay together in the same town. This causes some tense conversations for some families when students in their fifth year are deciding on the college they want to attend.

The school-wide protest for better heat in the school
included marching around the school and lots of blankets
to stay warm because it was very cold outside.

School-Wide Protests
School-wide protests still happen here. They are organized by the elected student government and seem to be very effective so far. We had one in December and another one is scheduled for the middle of February. The December "sciopero" was in protest of the lack of heat in the school since the school was trying to save money. The students came to school at 8 a.m., like any other normal school day, except everyone waited outside the main school gates. At around 9 a.m., everyone marched around the school and sang chants and held up their really creative signs. The local news station even came out to cover it. The next day when we went back to school, it was nice and toasty!

Side note: it’s funny to walk down the hallway during our 11 a.m. snack break because you will see clumps of students spaced evenly down the course of the hallway; all leaning against the heaters.

I want to thank you all for taking time to read this! Thanks for all you have done for me. 

And we at Tampa Prep want to thank Caneel for sharing these insights into her time abroad!