10 Ways Studying Abroad in High School Benefits You in College

10 Ways Studying Abroad in High School Benefits You in College

As a student who’s completing 9th through 12th grade you may be wondering how studying abroad in high school benefits you in college. From academic advancement to personal growth, consider the following reasons when trying to decide if a study abroad summer program is a good option for you.

Broaden your perspective of the world

New cultural experiences will make you a more understanding participant in our global community. Seeing the way other people live and why their unique perspective may be different than your own, creates a greater awareness and openness that will remain with you for years to come. With this worldly knowledge, you’ll be better prepared to interact in a more mindful way in multicultural settings. When considering the advantages of studying abroad, gaining a broader perspective of the world will instill a cultural sensitivity and sophistication that will especially benefit you in a college setting where group learning, Keep Reading »

Volunteering in Houston: Post Hurricane Harvey

Volunteering in Houston: Post Hurricane Harvey

As with every disaster, the desire to help others becomes very strong.  This was the case when on August 25th, 2017 Hurricane Harvey touched down on Houston and devastated several communities in its path. How did Westcoast Connection decide to help? With our newest initiative WCC Cares and its commitment to offer meaningful life-changing opportunities to inspire lifelong volunteerism, our team of 21 full-time staff descended upon Houston last week. Full of energy and anticipation, we were grateful for this opportunity to volunteer in Houston as a group.

Arriving from five cities across North America, our group came together on our first night in Houston to prepare for our service. This exercise referred to as “service learning” helps educate volunteers so they have a greater understanding of the communities they are helping, adding more meaning to the service work to come. Staggering figures relating to Hurricane Harvey’s impact were shared such Keep Reading »

6 Best Ways to Start Preparing for College

6 Best Ways to Start Preparing for College

High school students can get ahead of the crowd by finding ways to start preparing for college, even before the application process begins. Summer is the perfect time to equip yourself with these tools for success, as you won’t have to add anything to your already busy, high school academic year. If you’re wondering where to start, pre-college summer programs make it possible to cover all of these college prep ideas in one organized package. And what better way to prepare for college than to actually have a sample experience while still in high school? Check out these six ways to start preparing for college.

1. Learn about the college application process

Choosing the college that’s the right fit for your academic and personal interests is the first step in the process and requires careful research and self-evaluation. Some college preparation programs provide you with tools and resources to develop a checklist Keep Reading »

Surfing, Canyoning, Playing, and More! – California and the Canyons

Surfing, Canyoning, Playing, and More! – California and the Canyons

Once we arrived in San Diego from Los Angeles, we went straight to the zoo. As we exited the bus and joined the many exhibits nestled among the zoo’s scenic grounds, we met koalas, elephants and rhinos, among so many others! We left the zoo with one of its wildest creatures (a life-sized giraffe stuffed animal) as our newest trip mascot. After checking into the hotel and spending a few relaxing hours at the pool, we made our way to dinner and had a night of competitive laser tag. With the purple and orange teams taking the lead, we definitely had some laser tag all-stars in our midst.

Moonlight Beach in San Diego is just as beautiful as the name suggests. Cliff coastlines border the shimmering Pacific Ocean, which makes it a surfer’s paradise. At the surf school, we took our athleticism to the next level by learning balancing and paddling Keep Reading »

The Finale of An Amazing Trip! – Costa Rica Community Service

The Finale of An Amazing Trip! – Costa Rica Community Service

Our last day of service was spent playing games and swimming with the kids that we met in La Carpio earlier in the week.  It was so wonderful to see their familiar faces light up with pure joy as we played soccer, among other things! To close off our last community service project, we handed each of them a bag of donations, which they were all so grateful for. They gave us these massive goodbye hugs, and we were all so proud of our hard work and accomplishments throughout our community service projects.  That night, we sang some of our trip’s favorite songs at karaoke!

The next day, we got up early for our final activity.  As we made our way, we reminisced about all the great laughs and moments we’ve shared over the last three weeks. Once strangers, and now family, we remembered all of our experiences, how much fun Keep Reading »

Concluding with Arizona and Canyons! – American Voyageur

Concluding with Arizona and Canyons! – American Voyageur

I can’t believe that the day has come for me to write this final blog. It’s bittersweet knowing that we’ll no longer be one giant trip family. Our goodbyes were hard but we’re excited to go home to our family and friends.

Our final days were filled with adventurous hikes and beautiful views of Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon, and Scottsdale! Our hike through Zion led us to beautiful waterfalls that we walked under on our way to the top.

The next stop on our trip was camping at Bryce. We started our day with a hike through the canyon where we had a photo shoot at the bottom of the canyon! When we got back to our campsite we broke out a friendly competition and had 2 teams battle in friendly competition….everyone had a blast!

On our way to Flagstaff, we made a stop at the Coral Pink Sand Keep Reading »

Adventures in Tahoe and Los Angeles – California and the Canyons

Adventures in Tahoe and Los Angeles – California and the Canyons

On our fourth day, we waved goodbye to San Francisco and waved hello to the beautiful Californian wilderness. In the midst of our whitewater rafting excursion, our guide, Scott, showed us some of the first sites of gold discovery in California. In passing through these thrilling rapids, we learned to implement our teamwork skills and paddling techniques.

Our day came to an end at the peaceful Tahoe Valley Campground, nestled among the best of Lake Tahoe’s natural elements. After a series of tetherball and basketball tournaments, we settled in our tents, full of s’mores and ready for the next day.

Waking up at the campground, we readied ourselves for a beach day like no other. Upon our arrival to the Lake Tahoe beach site, we marveled at the glistening water, the surrounding mountains, and the incredible weather. Taking turns tubing and waterskiing on the open lake, some of us were even able Keep Reading »

Service in La Carpio – Costa Rica Community Service

Service in La Carpio – Costa Rica Community Service

Being aware of ourselves and compassionate of others is what we need to overcome all of our obstacles. This was the main message of our work during the past two days with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation (CRHF).

Our last community service project was in an immigrant community called La Carpio, where people from Nicaragua who fled due to war, oppression, lack of education, and resources reside. They came to Costa Rica looking for a better life. 

The day began with a lesson from Gail, the founder and director of the CRHF.  One of the first (and most important) things that she told us is that La Carpio is a place of uncertainty. On a daily basis, residents are not sure if they will have electricity or water, or if they will see their family members the next day.  During her lesson, she encouraged us to think about our lives and how Keep Reading »

Fun As We Sprint Through Cali! – California Sprint

Fun As We Sprint Through Cali! – California Sprint

With sun-kissed skin, we’re wrapping up our journey. From hotel beds to pitched tents, we sailed across Lake Tahoe and had a blast on the rapids where we became experts with paddles.

We worked as a team to pitch our tents and set up camp for four days together in Tahoe and Ventura. After a night at the movies, we returned to the campsite for dessert and were surprised to witness beautiful fireworks in the distance.

We headed down the 101 to Los Angeles where we immersed ourselves in the college residence experience. A sunny day at Universal greeted us with celebrity spottings, including Mario Lopez! In fact, some of us got to be part of the studio audience for the filming of ‘Extra’.

Our dreams were then brought to life in the happiest place on earth! After a day with our friends Mickey and Minnie, our Disney dreams came true Keep Reading »

Concluding with Canyons and Dunes! – American Voyageur

Concluding with Canyons and Dunes! – American Voyageur

I’ve been preparing to write this blog since day one. It’s bittersweet to do so; on one hand, we’re all excited to go back to our homes and tell everyone about our amazing summer, but on the other, it’s a very difficult goodbye that we have to say to each other.

On the first day of the trip, we had a meeting and discussed how we would become like a family by the end of the six weeks. It seemed like a near impossible notion at the time, as we still had names to learn, ice to break, and dozens of strangers packed into a campsite with one another. Regardless, here we are at the end of our trip, and the relationships that have been built are stronger than anyone anticipated.

This week was filled with amazing adventures, which was the best possible way to finish our trip. We started in Utah, Keep Reading »