In April 2019, students from Bergen County Academies in grades 10-12 will be offered a one-of-a-kind international educational experience. Built from scratch by experienced educator and student travel expert Paul Kaser, this trip will encompass a similar philosophy as the popular trips for our IB Diploma students to London and Hong Kong that have run every year since 2014.
The United Arab Emirates was chosen for this new trip due to the extraordinarily safe environment the country provides to westerners while offering them a glimpse of a true Arab culture. As a diverse nation of Emiratis, expats, and immigrants the UAE has become the melting pot of the Middle East. With almost unlimited wealth, a literal desert thirty years ago now contains the tallest building in the world and the largest shopping mall on the planet, right next door to the spice and gold markets and desert encampments that seem frozen in time. Students will experience the stark contrast in a land of extremes between old and new, natural and man-made, extreme wealth and extreme poverty, liberal and conservative, and traditional Arab and modern Western values. How can a nation maintain true to its roots, values and religion while embracing trends and ideologies similar to those found in the United States and Western Europe?
Walking through the city and hearing the call to prayer five times per day and visiting the third largest and most expensive mosque in the world will give new understanding to Arab culture. Seeing firsthand the spice, fish, and gold markets and the start of the trade routes that go everywhere in the Middle East and Africa will show how such a tiny nation maintains prominence in trade in the region. Observing the migrant workers living on dollars a day while building the most expensive and impressive structures in the world will challenge students to look at wealth disparity in a new way. Venturing into the desert to taste traditional foods, ride camels, and surf sand dunes at a desert encampment will provide a clash to visiting the tallest building in the world, man-made islands, and lavish palaces.
We are expanding our global exchange program by striking a new relationship with a prestigious secondary school of mostly local Arab students. Only 15-20% of the population in the UAE is Emirati so by shadowing students at this school for a day our students will get to experience firsthand what it is like growing up in such a unique place, and now becoming a minority in their own country. We have also been invited to visit New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus, a radical experiment in higher education that, in its six years of existence, become one of the most selective universities in the world with a student body hailing from over 100 countries.
We will be staying approximately 4-5 nights in a luxury hotel in Dubai and 2 nights in dorms at NYU Abu Dhabi.
Breakfast will be in our hotel or dorm, lunch will be on the run or in markets, but dinners will be at some of the UAE's most exciting restaurants or even out in the desert under the stars!
After our non-stop flight, we will be using the Dubai Metro and Charter buses as our primary means of transportation during the trip. There will also be extensive walking and students can expect to walk between 5-8 miles per day.