Upper School Exchanges Offer Global Perspective

Barcelona exchange students from Oak Knoll

Oak Knoll students have the unique opportunity to forge international ties by participating in annual exchange programs. Recently, two groups of students traveled to Spain and England to soak in a new culture and experience the daily life of students at Jesuits Sarrià – Sant Ignasi School in Barcelona and Mayfield School in East Sussex, England. While exchanges have taken place with Sant Ignasi for many years, this was the first of what we hope will be many exchanges with our sister Holy Child School in Mayfield.

Both schools sent students to Oak Knoll in November, and many students who hosted them in their homes in the U.S. were returned hospitality by the same students abroad. In addition to absorbing the school cultures in Europe and attending classes, students had busy schedules sightseeing and visiting local landmarks. This included visiting the Sagrada Familia, the largest unfinished Catholic Church in the world in the Catalan region of Spain, and the burial place of the Venerable Cornelia Connelly, founder of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, at St. Leonards on the Sea in Sussex.

“Going to Mayfield and seeing the beautiful school Cornella Connelly founded was breathtaking,” said Madison Martin ’26. “The students there were so welcoming and were excited to have us visit. We walked to the village and got to eat delicious fish and chips. We also had the opportunity to experience a true English afternoon tea with little sandwiches and dainty pastries. We saw the stunning Big Ben in London and visited the fascinating Victoria and Albert Museum. I had an amazing experience. I greatly recommend signing up for this exchange. It was a life-changing experience.” 

Anna Chamberlin ’26 had an equally exciting visit to Mayfield and formed strong bonds with students there. “We are already planning a reunion,” she said. “There were many opportunities for spending time outside class with peers. The campus was beautiful, reminiscent of Hogwarts, and had a historical English charm. However, our time spent in London was the trip’s highlight for me. I stayed with my exchange partner for three days at her house in London at the start of their Easter break, where she showed me around the city, taking me to all her favorite spots. I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity to do something like this at Oak Knoll!”

Mayfield School exchange students and their hosts in England

Of the students who traveled to Barcelona, Marianna Bernardo ’25 was eager to share her thoughts, citing the experience as “immersive” and “wonderful.” “I not only got to explore the amazing and historic city, but I was also actively participating in classes in the school and forming cross-cultural connections,” she said. “I was able to explore so many avenues of myself, finding love in food and trying new dishes, discovering the immense history and beauty of Barcelona, and enjoying a time that marks the beginning of my journey entering this world independently.”

Participants on the Barcelona trip included Ella Phelps ’26, Penelope Muirhead ’26, Liandra Taylor ’24, and Marianna Bernardo ’25.

The Sussex participants included Madison Martin ’26, Savannah Ramdass ’26, Anna Chamberlin ’26, Sally Marchesi ’26, and Catherine Luzzi ’26. Congratulations to these intrepid students. 

Visit our website’s Global Studies page for more information on Oak Knoll’s many options for international travel.