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Service Study Abroad, a template curriculum-in-progress for high school Ambassadors


This curriculum is on the writing stage where collaborators are necessary. The following letter is addressed to school leaders, but parents, students and community members are invited to respond and suggest. Several pieces of this 3- quarter unit are posted and linked in the letter. The graphics do not fully paste here.


April 3, 2020

Do the last three weeks seem like months to you? We educators-learners are moving forward  through so much to assimilate. So here I write. Is it possible to Zoom meet sometime soon? You’d have some awesome questions to add to my FAQ’s.

About 15 years ago, 6(?) Ashland HS Spanish 4 students spent a semester in a Mexican prepa in Ashland’s sister city, Guanajuato. I read a report of it by an Southern Oregon U professor saying  that even those excellent Spanish students were having a lot of trouble and stress, due to their lack of Spanish ability. This is not surprising, because academic language is the highest level of second language acquisition. (If I could only find that report now!)

What I propose, for students wanting to learn abroad, is much more organic and student-centered.  With Ambassador Service Study (AmbaSS), students could design a quarter abroad, and be immersed for a quarter in service projects for half a day alongside native speakers, rather than in a school, under pressure. Being in a hands-on, relational service project would be “Creating global citizens one friendship at a time.” The other half of the day, Ambassador students would engage in independent study that is related to the people and places of their host country (not online classes). These independent studies will have been carefully planned and proposed by the student and her team during the preparation quarter before going abroad. Part of an Ambassador’s preparation will be to form that “home team,” which includes peers, at least one teacher, community members, and parents.

Parents will vet the destination and home stays, and insure their child’s whole experience, thus no liability will be incurred by a school. Expenses could be much lower this way, opening access to experiences abroad for many more students. However, working with an established youth abroad program is also possible with AmbassSS’s flexible template curriculum. Schools and teachers simply approve a student-proposed project (or not) and award credit for its completion, minimizing a school’s time commitment. Ambassadors could even create time and content for teachers by sharing posts in their weekly blog that are relevant to peers’ studies at home. The Ambassador would thus “teach the whole village.” This multi-media weekly blog post also allows the Ambassador students to stay enrolled in their home school while abroad. 

After the Preparation and Abroad quarters, the Presentation quarter expands the community-based aspect of the Ambassador’s project by requiring live presentations to classes, schools and at least two Community groups or businesses, whom all have been on the “home team” since the beginning. The Presentation quarter also makes time for catching up, if need be, even though the Preparation quarter has been used to “get ahead” in classes or to arrange for alternative assignments that are related to their experience abroad.

I’m grateful for the Ashland High School Independent study application which I am modifying for AmbassSS.

If these and the following ideas would be of interest to other “learning abroad” aficionados that you know, please send this along to them, or the link to this document. If you want to follow our progress, let me know by email, phone or text.

Important features that distinguish Ambassador Service Study

  • It’s a student-centered, community-based, template curriculum-in-progress that is rigorous, relational, and flexible. A Schoology site is being built to carry it.
  • Prompts for writing/drawing daily journals give students choices that deepen their experiences abroad
  • The blog/communiqué and Ambassador’s  teams give student Ambassadors connection.  The blog is the main way Ambassadors will show and share their learning. See a model at 
  • Checklists and templates help students plan, propose, fundraise and execute their project ideas 
  • Independent and interdisciplinary studies and projects are designed by the student and her “home team.” Projects will be posted online to inspire future Ambassadors.
  • Each project is a team collaboration, not a solo enrichment experience
  • Students abroad stay enrolled in their school at home
  • Adaptable to: shorter travels, any destination, family travels, existing youth abroad programs, and teacher-accompanied groups
  • Standards-based
  • Immersive language-learning
  • Cost-effective, without middle-persons, with more student  choices and voices
  • Deeply connected to both home and host communities

To flesh out the 100’s of pages and drafts of curriculum and to build and organize resources and tools, I believe I need to find a partner school and colleagues, along with six or so students and families who want to pioneer and polish the program together so that it can be used in a variety of ways by more people.  In order to be a compassionate and informed global leader, America needs more global citizens among us. Teenagers want to do things that are bigger than themselves. 

One way to do a partnership would be for me to write and collaborate on site in the mornings, and to contribute as a sub in the afternoons. The AmbassSS curriculum is at the stage where it can only be effectively launched through full-time R & D with colleagues, students, parents and community members. A  creative learning community could perfect this curriculum to launch many young people into authentic, global, experiential learning.

Yours, for students, Bernie

Bernadette Weigand-Nelson, MA, Ed, 

Oregon Highly Qualified teacher in Spanish, French, Language Arts, Math, Art and ESOL/ Bilingual

President of Service Synergy

541-621-7467, [email protected]

 Through AmbassSS, Service Synergy, a 501(c)3, wants to empower youth to acquire global perspectives that benefit their community. To learn in more detail what Service Synergy is about, see our website, . Once Ambassador Service Study is up and running with a few student collaborating Ambassadors, another Service Synergy goal is to apply for a Fulbright Hays Group Projects Abroad grant to collaborate (abroad) for a month with other educators to develop their own projects for helping students serve and study abroad. This grant pays participants a per diem and requires open source publishing of findings. It takes a team to write and use a grant. 


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