Inside the halls of Brien McMahon High School roam over 1,663 students. Of these students, about 300 of them are members of the Center for Global Studies. CGS is an interdistrict magnet school inside of McMahon that focuses on teaching the languages, culture, history, and literature of China, Japan, and the Middle East. Students can choose to focus on the Chinese, Japanese, or Arabic language and eventually travel on overseas study tours.
Whether you’re an incoming or current student, or even a parent at McMahon, you may wonder students have chosen to attend CGS, why they've chosen the cultures they did, and what they can say about the program. To answer these questions, read on-- learn what a student from each language has to say about the school and their experience.
Victoria Papadopoulos (‘21) chose to immerse herself into the Japanese culture. After taking the language in middle school, she chose to stick with it. Papadopoulos says what made her join was the information session she attended:
“Alumni shared how the challenges of learning a completely new language and traveling with your classmates, with a host family, or hosting a family in the US, was one of the best experiences they ever had,” she said.
Papadopoulos (‘21) says she she hopes to gain more knowledge of the world that surrounds her through her involvement in the program.
“I hope to meet new people that are completely different than myself; understand and observe different viewpoints on life and politics. Overall, know how to effectively communicate with people who speak the same language, or not, and build great relationships with them,” she said.
Her favorite thing, though, is growing through the program; learning, observing and traveling. She went on to explain CGS’ influence on her as a person. “Being a part of CGS has changed my perspective in the world. It opened my eyes to how global issues connect to our politics and issues today,” Papadopoulos remarked.
Chris Gong (‘20) takes Chinese part in due because of his heritage. He says he expected to develop a better understanding of the culture, “I’ve always wanted to learn my own language, because, growing up, my family mainly spoke English to me. CGS gave me the opportunity to get back to my roots and explore my native culture,” he said.
One of Gong’s (‘20) favorite things about CGS is the exposure to all kinds of people from all over the world, and, in his own words: “you can’t forget about the potlucks.”
Malaury Bien-Aime is a sophomore studying the Chinese language as well, and credits her involvement to wanting to step out of her comfort zone. She hopes to use Chinese a future career, as it's “said to be the most spoken language.”
Bien-Aime ('21) says CGS helped her meet new people and diversify her views of the world. “I’ve become more aware of the reason why certain cultures do what they do; it’s shifted my perspective. There are so many different ways of living outside of the American ways--you have to keep an open mind,” she said.
Aubri Ancona (‘21) studies Arabic through CGS and says that the language just seemed very “unique and cool” to her. She says that being apart of the school changed her perspective on many things. For instance, her involvement shifted her career aspirations for the future, “It made me rethink what I wanted to do in life, and I’m considering wanting to become a translator or working with foreign affairs,” she shared.
As for study tours, Ancona is a huge fan. Recently, she went to the Middle East for a study tour in Qatar and Morocco, “We studied Arabic, lived with host families, and did so many things that students my age can’t say they did,” she revealed.
The biggest impact CGS has had on Ancona, she claims, is the shift of perspective she’s experienced since her admission. She says, “CGS has 100% changed my perspective of the world. I never appreciated how different we all are in the world until I got to CGS.”
All in all, the benefits of being involved in CGS are many in number: whether it be the thrill of learning a new language, culture, enjoying study tours, or diversifying your friend group, the Center for Global Studies has it all.