En route to Farmington!

The group is on the bus headed to campus, and we hope they’ve made memories that will last a lifetime!

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Touch down at JFK!

At last! The group made it to New York and will make their way through customs. I will update the blog when they are on the way to Porter’s!

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Wheels up! Journey to Farmington

The group is en route to Farmington! After an afternoon goodbye to host sisters and departure from Branksome Hall, they departed from Jeju Airport and landed in Seoul! They traveled by taxi to Incheon Airport, and are now readying themselves for a long flight on Korean Air KE085 flight bound for JFK, departing on WED 1/22 at 7:30PM local time (5:30AM EST).

The group is due to arrive in New York at 7:30PM EST on WED 1/22. I’ll update the blog when they land as they make their way back to Farmington!

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The final day in Jeju

Yesterday was the girl’s last full day at Branksome Hall Asia, it was a happy but a bittersweet day for them as they said goodbye to their buddies. There are not a lot of pictures from the day as the entire day was spent in classes and study sessions, but here is a picture of the goodbye dinner. We are flying home today and we are excited to see our friends and family members but are also sad to be leaving such a remarkable school and community. We will update you on our flights home.

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Monday in Jeju 1/21/2020


This is our penultimate day on Jeju island. The BHA students are taking their final exams before the Lunar New Year Holiday! Today was a day of classes, English, Geography, Business, Chemistry, and Environmental Science.

In the afternoon, the students went to Move It Monday. One group played BenchBall, a game consisting of two teams each with their own bench. To start, one person on each team goes to the bench on the opposite side of the gym. After that, the players collect balls and their teammate on the bench catches the balls they throw. If a ball is caught, that person joins their teammate on the bench. Once all the teammates on one team are on the bench, the game is over and that team wins!

Another group participated in Just Dance, and still another went to Table Tennis. After Move It Monday, the students had some free time. We had our debrief we asked the students to write about what they would bring back to Porter’s from this experience. We will revisit this again during our reentry day.

Since we do not have photos from class today, here are some from our travels across the trip:

Virtual Reality
Maddie G
The start of the hike up the Sunrise Peak
Top of the Crater
Sunrise Peak
Sunrise Peak crater
Lava Tube
Julia and her buddy
Mia and Maddie B.
Mareme and her buddy
Rania and her buddy
Sham and her buddy
At the Beach!
Audra, Sham, Mara
Rania in the Tangerine bushes
Cliff Restaurant View
View from the cafe
Paulina A. in Hanbok
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Paulina Azzu’s Day in Jeju

Today’s guest writer is Paulina Azzu who is going to write about Sunday, January 19, 2020. We have a very full day.

Today was our second day exploring Jeju and it was just as amazing as the first. The first thing we did today was look at the lava columns. They are hexagonal rock formations that were formed from volcanic eruptions. It was a quick activity but the view was spectacular and so was the perfect turquoise blue of the water below us. The next thing we did was go to the 54th Street Market where there was a lot of amazing food to try as well as tangerine chocolates. 

After lunch overlooking the ocean, we went to the Osulloc Tea Museum where we tried ice cream, crepe cake, and a milk shave all green tea flavored. We also bought cosmetics and tea. After that we went down to the never-ending green tea fields to walk through and take pictures. 

After that, we traveled to the tangerine farms to pick our own tangerines and learned that smaller is better. Some of us filled an entire bag, and by some of us, I mean DB. Then, we headed back to the dorms to get ready for a delicious dinner with the Park family at a really The Shilla Jeju. We had a lovely prix fix meal, the first course was pumpkin soup, the second course was fried shrimp in a delicious sweet sauce, the entree was BibimBap a traditional Korean food as well as spicy pork with kimchee, the dessert was sesame seed ice cream and it was delicious. They sent us back to the campus with boxes of really rare and tangerines that the girls at BHA loved. They gave us five boxes and unfortunately we could not bring them back to America so we shared them with our host students and teachers at the school.

Post Dinner Photo

We only have three more days at BHA and I am looking forward to the week. It is their spirit week and tomorrow is pajama day!

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Maddie G’s Saturday in Jeju Island

Today was the first day that we got to go out and explore Jeju and it was absolutely incredible. We started our day out nice and early and took a bus ride to the World Heritage Center. While there, we were able to learn more about how the island was formed and more about the lava tunnels that we visited later on. Our amazing tour guide, Kim, explained and gave us lots of information about the island. We were also able to take a VR dragon ride through the volcanoes of Jeju!!

The next place we visited was the Manjanggul lava tunnels. This tunnel is one of the two tunnels that are opened to the public. We were able to walk about 2 kilometers in the tunnel, to the end and back, while seeing some cool things throughout the way. We were able to see the lines where the lava used to be filled up, as well as some cool rock sediments that had formed. My favorite one was a rock that got pushed into a place that looks like a turtle. Also, at the end of the tunnel, there was a lava column, which we are going to be able to see more of tomorrow. 

The third-place we headed off to was Woljeong Beach, where we also had lunch. We enjoyed lunch at a cute little restaurant and then had a little bit of time to take pictures on the beach. The water was so clear and so blue and you definitely wouldn’t see that back in Farmington.

Before heading off to dinner the last place we headed was Sunrise Peak. Sunrise Peak is one of the mountains that is also technically an inactive volcano. Most of our group hiked to the top in about 20 minutes, and it was definitely worth it for the view. There were incredible views throughout the whole hike up, and at the top, you were able to see a crater that was formed when the volcano erupted.

Lastly, we were able to enjoy amazing food and an incredible view at a restaurant called Zen Hideaway. It was extremely nice and the food was delicious. We enjoyed foods such as pizza, seafood pasta, pad thai, and even paellas. After eating our dinner we then enjoyed desserts, which was a variety of different cakes and also Tiramisu. The food was a great end to our day and filled us up after all the hiking we did.

We are looking forward to getting the opportunity to explore the island more tomorrow, as we have another really busy day ahead of us!!

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Thursday and Friday in Jeju

Hello, families and the Porters community. We are so sorry we haven’t updated the blog in a couple of days. We have all been so busy enjoying everything that Jeju has on offer.

In the last two days, the girls have been shadowing their host students in class. It is exam week next week for the host students so our girls mainly sit in and learn through the test prep that the girls are having. They are enjoying getting to know the curriculum of the school and how education works here. Shamreetha was very excited that she got to participate in a math class, and the entire group was ecstatic about the fact that History is an elective here (which makes me the history teacher very sad).

On Thursday and Friday, the girls participated in afterschool activities. On Thursday they participated in clubs so they all went to different ones, the clubs were MUNA Lab, N.E.X.T, Peacemakers Academy, and the North and South Korea culture club. Rania really liked going to the peacemakers club as the advisor helped her work out her research question for her global studies class. After the clubs, our girls participated in a KPop Dance class which they told me I was not allowed to watch. When we debriefed at the end of the evening they did perform their dance for me and it was adorable.

club time

Friday was spent in classes during the day and after school, the girls went to Forget Me Not – a service-learning club that makes care packages for North Korea, or Greensome Hall Asia which is a group that wants to work on sustainability practices in the school. The absolute highlight of the girl’s day was going to the Korean “Social Club” it is a place for students under 18 to sing Karaoke, play board games, or play games on the computer as well as have snacks and hang out. Julia Luppino text me “Karaoke is my LIFE” so I take that to mean that she really enjoyed it. The girl’s host students took them out for a wonderful evening of eating and karaoke, it was probably the most fun they have had al trip.

Today we have a full day of excursions, The UNESCO world heritage museum, Sunrise Peak, Woljeong Beach, a Lava cave walk, and finally dinner at Zen Hideaway. There will be lots of pictures of the beauty that is Jeju Island.

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First Meeting, First Day on Jeju Island

As we got to the school the girls were very excited to meet their host student buddies. Here is a video. You can watch the introduction or skip ahead about two minutes for ultimate cuteness.

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Reflection #1 – Maddie and Mareme reflect on their first day in class and meeting their buddies.

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Maddie Beaule’s Day on Jeju -Day two

Hello Parents and Teachers, thank you so much for following our adventures in Seoul today’s blog post is Maddie B.

Today was our second day at BHA. It was a great day overall and we had a lot of fun getting to know our host students more and experiencing school life in another country. Life here is very similar to Porter’s but also very different. The vibes at school and the interactions between the students are almost identical to when we are at Porter’s. We all feel very at home and are loving the school immensely. 

Early in the morning, Mia and I attended the BHA swim practice at their beautiful Olympic sized pool. It was a fun experience and the coach and the other swimmers were super welcoming and excited to have us there.

After a morning swim, I met up with my buddy and had breakfast in the dining hall. I had Korean style wings, fried eggs, and a bagel with apple jam. After breakfast, we headed back to the classroom to work on their IDU projects that Julia talked about yesterday. My group had finished their project the night before, so we were able to hang out with our host students more. My host student Kyla and I talked about the attractions around where we lived and she gave advice on things we should do around Jeju if we had extra time. We also ordered nail designs that are like stick-on nails, that the girls wear at the school and are going to do them later during the trip. 

After the morning class periods, we went to lunch. For lunch, I had boneless pork ribs and rice and tangerines. The food was amazing, especially the tangerines which are special to Jeju island. After lunch, we worked on the IDU projects more and then we were judges scoring the girl’s final presentations and posters. We then had a Korean culture class where the senior girls in the prefect positions (like our Nova Nine) hosted us and made food. We tried ramen, traditional Korean snacks, and Dalgona, a traditional street food sugar candy. This was a great experience as we were able to help make some of the food and immerse ourselves in their day to day lifestyle. Throughout this time, we listened to KPOP, which was super great. 

Maddie B making Korean Candy
delicious ramen
Group shot of the girls making Ramen
Sham making Korean candy!

After that class, I went to the CU with my host student and bought some of her favorite Korean snacks to try and then headed to dinner. For dinner, I had noodle soup and spring rolls. Then the dorm celebrated December, January, and February birthdays with cake and ice cream which was super fun and they sang Happy Birthday in English and Korean. After that, we did a debrief and hung out altogether before we went to bed. 

Another great day in BHA and we can’t wait to start going to their normal classes tomorrow!

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Julia Luppino’s Day on Jeju – Day One

Today’s guest writer for today’s blog post is Julia Luppino. She is going to tell us about her first few days on Jeju Island.

I had such a wonderful first day at BHA today! Our host students were all so welcoming today and it is obvious that everyone is excited to have us here, faculty and staff included. 

We were up bright and early for a delicious breakfast and a tour of BHA’s beautiful campus before going to work on a project with our buddies and the whole 11th grade. For breakfast, I ate congee, a Korean porridge, and fresh fruit. Throughout our school tour, I particularly appreciated the architecture of the school and how intentional and efficient the buildings were designed.

Each of the BHA 11th graders have picked a different natural disaster to study and present about, including hurricanes and wildfires. My host student and her group are doing a project about Hurricane Katrina and its effects as well as possible solutions for future disasters like the hurricane. We listened to a presentation about the fires occurring in Australia and learned a lot. I got to bond with my host students as she and her friends introduced me to many of their favorite Kpop groups while simultaneously working on their environmental science projects. They taught me all about their favorite songs and how important Kpop is to their culture. 

 For lunch, I ate Korean ramen, and then after lunch, we were able to take a Korean language class with Ms. Choi. We learned the alphabet and how to write our names in Korean. We also learned the origins of the language and the significance of it to Korean people. We learned that the Korean language is the only one with an established year of creation and a knowledge of who created it. This was a very enriching experience for us and we cannot wait for tomorrow to learn some more Korean and try some traditional snacks. This was one of my favorite parts of the day because I learned a lot about the language and its history. 

When the school day was over we went back to our dorms and spent time with our buddies, as well as rested before dinner. We then ate dinner with our host students before we all met up again to debrief the day. 

I had a great first day at BHA and cannot wait for the next five days! 

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Final Morning in Seoul, First Full day at Branksome Hall Asia

We are all very excited to be at Branksome Hall Asia. Our final morning in Seoul included some Souffle Pancakes, Coffee, and some last-minute shopping in Myeongdong.

After we had a special breakfast, it was time for the girls to head to Jeju Island and our home for the next week and a half. The girls got on the short plane ride to Jeju Island. Once we landed, we were picked up by a representative from Branksome Hall Asia. Once we arrived at the school, the girls were paired with their host students.

goodbye Seoul
Hello Jeju-do
group photo

This morning we were woken up and taken to breakfast. The girls sat with their buddies and realized that breakfast at Branksome Hall is eaten quickly. They then went to class to work on sustainability projects. We don’t have pictures from class because Dan and I had a meeting to attend. We took a tour of the school and there are some pictures below. Branksome Hall has an Olympic sized pool. No pictures of that as there were girls swimming this morning.

Model of the Campus
The girls at Branksome hall are building a boat, they will test it. Can we build a boat at Porter’s?
the library and the librarian’s name is Fiona
Outdoors at Branksome Hall

We will have some short videos tonight of the girls discussing their first day at Branksome Hall Asia, the group projects, and how it is living in the dorms here.

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Last day in Seoul

We followed up the trip to Gyeonbokgung Castle with a second visit to Insadong Market, where the student explored local arts, crafts and food. We had lunch at a halal restaurant in Insadong.

We then had an unexpected treat. Due to the amazing generosity of the parent of a fellow Porter’s student, we were able to attend Nanta, a famous show which has been playing in Seoul since 1997 and has travelled around the world. Imagine Jackie Chan, Buster Keaton, the Blue Man Group and Stomp filming an episode of Iron Chef, and you have a very rough idea of the show. It was hilarious and athletic and artistic, and I’m so very glad that we had the chance to attend.

We ended the day with a visit to a traditional Korean barbeque restaurant in Myeondong, which featured incredibly yummy food prepared over hot grills.

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Tomorrow we leave for Jeju Island. By this time tomorrow the students will have met their host students, which they’ve been eagerly waiting for.

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Gyeongbokgung Palace and Insadong (again)

Today we treated the girls to a cultural experience here in Seoul. We went to Gyeongbokgung Palace and then we went back ton Insa-dong because the girls really wanted to get the last few Seoul souvenirs.

Here is a short blurb about Gyeongbokgung taken from the Korea tourism website:

“Built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace is also commonly referred to as the Northern Palace because its location is the furthest north when compared to the neighboring palaces of Changdeokgung (Eastern Palace) and Gyeonghuigung (Western Palace) Palace. Gyeongbokgung Palace is arguably the most beautiful and remains the largest of all five palaces.

The premises were once destroyed by fire during the Imjin War (Japanese Invasions, 1592-1598). However, all of the palace buildings were later restored under the leadership of Heungseondaewongun during the reign of King Gojong (1852-1919).

Remarkably, the most representative edifices of the Joseon Dynasty, Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, and Hyangwonjeong Pond have remained relatively intact. Woldae and the sculptures of Geunjeongjeon (The Royal Audience Chamber) represent past sculptures of contemporary art.

The National Palace Museum of Korea is located south of Heungnyemun Gate, and the National Folk Museum is located on the eastern side within Hyangwonjeong.”

Main gate at Gyeongbokgung

The highlight of the day for the girls was getting to wear Korean Hanbok, a dress in the traditional Korean style, and walk through the palace grounds. They loved it and we talked a lot about the history of the palace as well as the dresses they wore.

Julia, Paulina and Audra all dressed up!!!
Traditional women’s hanbok consists of jeogori, a blouse shirt or a jacket, and chima, a wrap-around skirt, which is usually worn full. The ensemble is often called chima jeogori. Men’s hanbok consists of jeogori and loose-fitting baji (“trousers”)
The girls were picking out their handbags to go with the Hanbok
Group Shot!

Don’t worry, parents – there are individual shots of each girl so they can show you what they looked like. After we visited the palace, we had lunch at an Indian restaurant that they liked. Tonight we will see Nanta and then have Korean BBQ. There will be an update after the show.

Different pavilions at the palace

Goodbye for now!!!!

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First Full Day in Seoul

The girls woke up and ate breakfast at the hotel restaurant. We left at 8am for a bus tour of Seoul. Today was all about learning a little bit of history about Korea while visiting some of its shopping districts and famous tourist attractions. Today’s attractions included Myeongdong Market where the girls had Korean fried chicken and shopped for souvenirs from some of the more well-known clothing brands. Then we went to Seoul Tower (Namsan Park) The girls took an elevator up and saw Korea from above.

This was as close to Farmington as we could get!

After Seoul Tower, we went to Insadong Market where the girls got to experience a more traditional side of Seoul. It is one long street so we let the girls explore in groups. We also were able to have Korean Tea and shop for Korean souvenirs at this market.

The bus tour took us past the Korean National Museum, a Folk village, and Itaewon. We did not hop off on on those stops, but the girls learned the history of them from the recording on the bus.

After this, we all went to dinner with Sounghee Jeon the mother of Christine Park (21). She treated us all to a beautiful and delicious buffet at the Intercontinental Hotel Parnus Seoul. It was amazing there are pictures of the desserts below.

After dinner we went to the famous Coex Mall. There was a library in the mall. The girls got to explore the mall in goups. Sam Ahn also joined us for dinner and was gracious enough to get us a taxi back to the hotel after the mall because the girls were very tired after the long day.

Look at all those books!!

I heard them talking and I think they said some of them took 20,000 steps today! We are very excited to have a day of cultural excursions tomorrow. We look forward to updating you more.

Seoul Tower
Shopping in Insadong
Sham, Audra, Maddie B, Rania. Mara and Julia looking for souveniers
Seoul Tower Outside
On the bus for the Seoul Downtown Palace Tour
On the bus for the Seoul Downtown Palace Tour
Group Picture After Dinner
Picture of us eating dinner with C. Park’s mother and Sam Ahn
Finally the Dessert Table.

As you can see it was a fill day with lots of adventures. We will update you tomorrow about our day at Gyeonbokgung Palace, the hit show Nanta and Myeongdong Night Market. Talk soon.

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Arrival In-Country!

After traveling for nearly 20 hours, the group has finally arrived in-country! Everyone is tired but happy to finally be there. The moved through customs, navigated their first try at the amazing shuttle and subway system, and are now at their hotel in Seoul!

The group will get some much needed shut eye this evening before a full day of exploring Seoul. Stay tuned for more pictures and updates!

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Wheel’s Up

The BHA group is en route! After a very early morning departure from Farmington, they arrived at JFK with time for some food and rest before boarding their Korean Air KE082 flight for Incheon/Seoul. They were all smiles as they settled into their seats for a long flight.

The group is due to arrive in Incheon on FRI 1/10 at 4:25PM (THU 1/9 at 2:25AM EST). I will update this blog once the group has arrived in Incheon.

Stay tuned!

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Welcome to the 19-20 Porter’s in South Korea Blog!

We are getting excited for this 11th grade InterMission class to begin their incredible journey to Branskome Hall Asia (BHA) in Jeju, South Korea!

You can expect to receive updates once daily on this blog. Please keep in mind that the time in South Korea will be 14 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time so the postings may not happen on a schedule that makes sense in your time zone. This blog is the place to find pictures, videos and reflections from students and faculty on the trip, as well as to receive daily updates about the group’s activities and experiences. We are asking our faculty trip leaders to post all materials so that students can be present for every moment and so that they will not worry about posting to the blog in a timely manner.

We also strongly encourage you to keep contact with your children to a minimum during the immersion, which will allow them to fully experience the life and community of the school. Emailing periodically is a great way to touch base with without disrupting their experiences in school and other activities. We strongly discourage texting and phone calls for the duration of this cultural immersion.

It is going to be a FANTASTIC experience for all and we look forward to sharing it with you on this blog.

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