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When Lily Mullany traveled to Japan last June, she realized there were not many differences between her and her Japanese peers.

“The family I stayed with ate dinner together every night; the same as my family. The only thing that was different was the clothing, but it was really cool to see the family interaction and the culture as a whole,” said Mullany, a 17-year-old Bloomfield Hills native. “You gain a true understanding and appreciation of diversity that stays with you for a lifetime.”

Mullany, along with 11 other students, are a part of the Global Scholars Program at Detroit Country Day School in Beverly Hills. The new program exposes students to various languages, world literature and history through travel and specialized academic courses.

In order to participate, students after their freshman year are required to: maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher; engage in a curriculum that includes online summer seminars, research, multicultural literature and history; participate in the DCDS student exchange program, either by traveling to another country for a home stay or hosting a foreign student in their home. Currently, schools are offered in France, Germany, Spain, Japan and Italy.

The total cost of the program, including airfare, can range from $1,200 to $2,700.

Jacqueline Riley, director of the DCDS Global Community Program and Global Scholars Program, said it’s important for students to be exposed to international studies.

“People become more aware when they travel and study globally. The world is getting smaller, and it becomes critical for students to learn about international issues,” Riley said. “Being in new environments helps students become more socially inclusive, which helps them to be better members of society.”

During the 10-day trip, students, along with two instructors, are able to explore the country’s culture and practices in addition to taking classes.

Jessica Goggins, 17, of Troy, who traveled to Spain in February and hosted a student in March, said she was surprised with the different teaching styles.

“While in class, the students were allowed to talk during lecture, and it wasn’t a big deal. Here at Country Day, or most schools, you can’t talk if the teacher is talking,” Goggins said. “It’s so interesting to know that another teenager my age, is living a completely different life across the world.”

For students that only want to host and not travel aboard, they are able to take online summer seminar courses led by DCDS instructor Omar Hakim.

“My main goal is to open up a dialogue that engages students and give them a new perspective on matters of the world,” Hakim said. “Through their experiences, they are able to educate their peers while being able to see and give another viewpoint.”

In the last year, 96 percent of students who have studied internationally were more likely to have an increase in self-confidence, while 70 percent of students said international programs helped them to work better in diverse environments, according to a study conducted by the University of California, Merced.

Dr. Mariella Goggins, who hosted a student from Spain earlier this year, said more children should have to opportunity to study globally.

“I’m from Peru, so my family and I travel there every year. My daughter has a chance to learn the culture and speak the language,” said Goggins, Jessica’s mother. “Some students may not be able to participate, but they should consider it, because it’s a great program where they can get involved and gain life experience.”

In the coming months, DCDS hopes to expand the program to the elementary school and include China and the Netherlands.

Erin Brennan, 15, of Beverly Hills, is no stranger to global travel. She has lived in China and Australia and plans to go to Italy in the fall.

“I would never pass up and opportunity like this,” Brennan said. “Sometimes we take for granted what we have here, but being able to travel and study helps you to appreciate all cultures.”

ksmith3@detnews.com

(313) 222-1855

Twitter: @kylasmith525

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