No exchange trips planned for 2021-22 academic year


Malcolm Taylor

Exchange trips to Martinique, Argentina, China and Italy have all been canceled for the 2021-2022 school year.

Louis Auxenfans, Reporter

Update, May 21, 2021: Principal Paul Beekmeyer communicated that at this time world language trips cannot be confirmed or booked due to travel restrictions domestically and internationally. The administration will continue to monitor the situation over the summer and update the world language department if restrictions change to allow international travel for the 2021-22 school year.

No Lab students have participated in language exchange trips since the pandemic began in early 2020 and they will not be continuing in the 2021-22 school year either due to the coronavirus pandemic. The destinations canceled include Martinique, Germany, Austria, Argentina, China and Italy. 

The exchange trips are organized and prepared one year in advance, making it impossible to plan a safe trip when following University of Chicago guidelines and the current restrictions surrounding the pandemic in countries. Additionally, the erratic change in COVID-19 cases and restrictions in schools abroad were factors that led to the cancelation of exchange trips. 

Jean-Franklin Magrou, world language department co-chair, said the uncertainty of the pandemic contributed to the decision. 

“There are new restrictions in certain countries, and nothing seems very stable at this point,” Mr. Magrou said. “The health and the safety of our students is really paramount to what we do with the exchange trips.” 

Sophomore Hannah Maxcy, who was planning to go on a trip to Argentina last year, was disappointed with the news.

“I was definitely just waiting for the opportunity for them to do it again, but I guess it doesn’t look like I’m going to get that chance,” Hannah said. 

While trips abroad have been canceled, some world language teachers have organized virtual exchange programs with schools abroad or pen pal exchanges, which has come with some success.

“It’s been interesting to see how to have something good come out of it, even though we’re not able to provide exchange trips at this time,” Mr. Magrou said. 

The world language department is also willing to explore the possibility of continuing these virtual exchanges in the future on top of the regular exchange programs. 

“We still believe that it’s important to build a sense of community within our language programs, and we hope that even moving forward, those virtual exchanges can maybe happen in the future on top of the regular exchange programs that we have,” Mr. Magrou said.

This fall, the world language department will begin working with the high school administration, the university and the exchange schools to determine if it will be safe to resume trips. 

The department hopes to resume all exchange trips by the 2022-23 school year.