In 2007, Friends became the first high school in Delaware accepted as a member of the School Year Abroad (SYA) consortium, a national group of leading independent schools with a commitment to international education.
The goal of the program is to give American students—high school juniors and seniors—the benefits of living in another country, with an emphasis on cultural understanding, language fluency, and (like the International Baccalaureate [IB] program
) consistent high-level preparation for university study. Students live with host families, and study at SYA schools both in English and in the language of the host country. Member schools have additional opportunities for students to participate in summer programs and for faculty to teach and learn abroad. SYA currently offers programs in China, France, Italy, Spain.
A “curiosity to explore the world” is the quality that SYA identifies as the common link among its diverse student body; and it is the starting point. Language mastery, building relationships, and cultural immersion are organizing experiences of the program, but not in themselves the end goals. As the SYA missions statement says, “Using second language as the vehicle and another culture as the extension of our classrooms, we aim to teach our students self-reliance, responsible decision-making, resourcefulness, adaptability, and respect for difference….We hope that our students will take from SYA a humble appreciation for the complexity of the world’s problems, a healthy awareness that cultural values and political traditions lead countries to approach those problems differently, and a heartfelt desire to make their own contribution to the search for new solutions.”
For more information about the program, please visit www.sya.org