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Capping Off Their Senior Year with GESC Projects

Observe. Learn. Do. 

When seniors Adrienne Hodson, Charlotte Millman, and Annie Shactman went on an International Education Program (IEP) trip to Rome and Sardinia, Italy, earlier this year, they witnessed what it is like to live in a Blue Zone. 

Residents of Blue Zones have lower rates of chronic illness and longer life expectancies, attributed in part to diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors. Sardinia is considered a Blue Zone.  

The three seniors are in the Global & Environmental Studies Certificate (GESC) program, which is run by the Alvord Center for Global & Environmental Studies. Each student in the program must participate in a capstone project. Inspired by what they witnessed and learned in Italy, the trio created a capstone project that brought dorm residents together to prepare and eat healthy meals. They documented the project through a website.   

Food. Family. Fun.  

Sort of a Blue Zone mentality, if you will. 

“Residents of the dorm worked together to cook the meals, and then they enjoyed each other's company,” their website says.  

The girls say the events “embodied the communal and local food aspects that we observed on our trip” while bringing “members of the dorm closer together and embrac[ing] the key values of the [GESC] program.” 

The four key values of the program are seeking knowledge, enhancing understanding, taking action, and developing skills. This project checked all the boxes. 

One of the dorm events was “breakfast for dinner.” Ingredients such as eggs, milk, and cheese came from local farms, and maple syrup came from Loomis Chaffee. The school has a sugar shack on campus, where students and Alvord Center faculty turn sap from campus trees into syrup.  

This year, there are 25 students in the GESC program who have worked on 14 projects. 

Another project, by senior Isabella Delach, focused on four members of the faculty and staff and their immigrant experiences. Loomis Chaffee has a large international student population, which is supported by many students who are International Student Ambassadors.  

“I was also interested in seeing our faculty and staff's backgrounds and their experiences in America,” Isabella said. “I thought that filming an interview would be the best way to document their experiences as part of my GESC capstone project.” She interviewed two faculty members, a staff member, and someone who works for FLIK, the school’s dining services provider.  

Seniors Grace Lund and Elena Higgins worked on a French language tables initiative for their capstone. 

They came up with the idea for their project while in Scandinavia last summer on an International Education Program trip. Grace and Elena realized that they expected everyone to speak English. They decided they and other students should become more comfortable speaking another language. 

Elena and Grace have taken French all four years at Loomis, so they decided to set up French-speaking tables at lunch in the dining hall on four occasions. 

“Any student taking French could join us and speak the language during lunch,” Elena explained. She said the program aimed to “break down language barriers, embrace diverse languages, and encourage comfortable communication beyond one’s first language.” 

The pair encouraged students to sit at the table by creating promotional posters around campus, having teachers tell their students, emailing students directly, and speaking to students in person. 

“Overall, the language tables were a success,” Elena said, “and we hope that the program can grow and expand to other languages in the future.” 




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