MEI International Academy - "The World is Our Classroom"

MEI International Academy

About

Our guiding principle has always been to encourage students to learn about the world and how to live in it. It isn’t enough to travel abroad, visit historical sites and museums, and expect meaningful connections to happen automatically. Our mission is to offer a global high school experience with each lesson designed to inspire REAL education in the locations we visit.

We believe that the best education lies in experiencing the world around us where there are no desks, there are no walls: the world is our classroom.

Website
bit.ly
Founded
1997
Headquarters

15816 Peel Regional Rd 50
Bolton ON L7E 0A3
Canada

Reviews

Default avatar
Ian
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Last summer I had an amazing adventure travelling with MEI Academy completing the International Business Program and acquiring my grade 12 English and grade 12 International Business credits. It was a life changing experience that I would 100 percent recommend. In 5 weeks we traveled from Toronto, to NYC, to London, to Paris and then to Hong Kong and Beijing. We walked the streets of these great international financial centers embracing new cultures, building new friendships and being academically challenged every step of the way. All of the teachers on the trip were extremely engaging and supportive which inspired me to produce my best work. The program allowed me to share ideas with like-minded peers, work in dynamic groups and build leadership skills. I definitely improved my time management skills and my ability to prioritize and work with distractions while still having time for a lot of fun! I returned home more independent, resilient, self aware and confident that I could take on the challenges ahead of me. Honestly, I can’t imagine any better preparation for post secondary studies than completing an MEI Academy program. Thank you MEI for taking me on a trip of a lifetime and providing me with the most incredible memories!

Default avatar
Sama
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This previous summer I experienced the most life changing summer of my life. Within 35 days I learned more than I had the whole year prior. MEI's international program opened my eyes to the world of business, taught me about different cultures, and gave me skills I will continue to use in my everyday life. On top of everything I got out of the trip, my favourite quality was the use of environment. Not once did we sit inside a class room during our lectures or our work time. It was always somewhere different, with an open space. From lectures at the steps of Versailles, to songwriting on the Great Wall of China, every day held a new adventure. Later when I went back to school and sat in a classroom again I realized how much of an impact that had on my learning. Another huge highlight of the trip was my teachers. They were all so approachable and impactful throughout the whole journey. They were not only mentors for me, but people I could go to and trust if I was anxious. If you’re debating on whether to do a trip with MEI or not, I highly suggest you take this leap and go for it. To this day I tell stories about my trip, and am still in touch with all the amazing friends that I made. There’s a magic to the community they create and I am so grateful to have been a part of it.

Default avatar
Jeff
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Over the past summer of 2019, I embarked on the travel opportunity of a lifetime with the MEI International Business Crew. This trip is something I will remember for the rest of my life without question, and has taught me valuable lessons that are hard to come by. Academically, the trip taught me more about how to communicate my thoughts into writing better than the last three years of high school has. The pure amount of writing and story telling that I completed, and the writing of other students that I was exposed to helped me recognize my weaknesses and strengthen them. The types of business lessons and opportunities you get exposed to are unmatched. Learning about the NY Stock Exchange while standing right next to it, learning about a day traders life while standing in their office, and meeting business legends in the flesh are just a few of the lessons that no classroom can ever provide. The feeling I had when was on the trip was a sense of family. My teachers cared for me like parents. They knew my goals and they were determined to find a way to help me reach them. There were no shortcuts, a strong work ethic is definitely necessary for this trip, but everyone is truly there to support you. The business trip has day long competitions called apprenticeships, and these were the days I learned the most about myself and others. These competitions are very challenging, and groups need to work efficiently to get the job one well. I learned more about group dynamics and leadership during this trip than I have in 7 years of competitive sports. This trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity and you don't want to miss it!

Default avatar
Erika
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing. Honestly this trip is outstanding. This trip is probably the coolest thing I have ever done. It allows you to see different perspectives of the world, step out of your comfort zone and meet your future besties. Truly, I wish to do it all over again. This program keeps you on your toes both physically and academically. The friends and memories I made in this trip are indescribable. Also if you like adventure I highly suggest MEI, the excursions we did were unreal: Zip-Lining in Cambodia, Scuba Diving in the Great Barrier Reef, Swim in waterfalls in Bali. I know nothing is perfect but this trip comes pretty close to perfection.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
LIVE IN THE MOMENT BEFORE YOU KNOW IT YOU WILL BE BACK SLEEPING IN YOUR BED
Default avatar
Alex
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had an absolutely amazing time on the Trailblazers trip. I made incredibly strong connections with all of the students and teachers and would not trade my experience for anything else. I HIGHLY recommend this trip to everybody who has a strong passions for adventure, making new friends, learning, and having fun! I fell in love with Australia and Bali, and can’t wait to be able to travel back one day. MEI truly made being on the road feel like home. Since being back, I have maintained strong relationships with everybody from the trip, and can’t wait to visit everyone soon.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The most unfamiliar thing I ate was smoothie bowls! And I wish I had learned about them sooner. Although I have to say they taste much better in Bali than they do in Toronto. I also tried many dishes I can not remember the names of but were delicious.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 9 of 10

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Lisa Marshall

Lisa is a Grade 12 high school student who is passionate about travel and learning about the world.

Why did you choose this program?

Growing up, my family chose to travel a lot as we believe it enhances one’s global mindset which is crucial in today's world. We heard about the program through our neighbors whose daughters did it. We believed this program would provide a perfect opportunity to travel as well as earn recognizable high school credits. My older sister decided to participate in the Ancient World Odessey trip in her summer leading into Grade 12 and had so many amazing memories to share when she returned. I knew I want to participate.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

MEI's website was super easy to navigate when looking up programs and finding which was right for you. Before deciding, there were multiple meetings in my city from teachers who are with MEI to ask questions or any concerns I had. Once I chose the program I wanted, everything travel-wise was organized through MEI. They booked all hotels, plane tickets, and even helped with Visa applications for China.

During foundation work before we left, all the teachers and students of the program were able to contact each other using a Facebook group that was set up by MEI for asking questions and getting to know each other.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I think the one piece of advice that any student who is wondering if they should go on an MEI trip should know is that MEI is an academic program which requires hard work. Of course, that is not to say you don't get to go out and see the location you are in, but more of a word of caution that you have to be willing to work hard in order to get good grades as you might get in your normal high school.

Since the summer programs are condensed versions of courses you may usually take in four months down into 35 days, you have to acknowledge that you will always have an assignment on the go. My biggest piece of advice is that you shouldn't procrastinate while on the program and always finish with your best work possible.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average day with MEI is fairly standard across all programs. You wake up and have morning workout at about 7:00 local time until 7:30. This workout is one of the best activities to start your day with. Often, we play ultimate frisbee or other active group activities to wake us up and help beat jet lag. We then head back to where we are staying and get changed and eat breakfast. At around 9:00 AM, we meet again as a class and participate in Morning Note, a journaling exercise which requires 900 words in 30 minutes. This allows us to get ready academically for the day and helps train us to write fast.

After that, we will either already be at our lecture location or we will walk to it. This location is always relevant to the material we are learning that day. After our lecture, we are often assigned an assignment and have around four hours of free time to head out in groups of three to explore the city and work.

In the two course programs, we meet again in the afternoon to have another lecture and head to dinner as a family or small groups. At the end of the day, we have free time to unwind after dinner, get work done with friends in other rooms at the hotel, and go back to our own assigned rooms for room check where teachers give us important information about the next day.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear about going abroad was the fact I went alone without knowing anyone else, and being scared that I wouldn't make friends. This was completely changed with MEI from the first day everyone came in to meet everyone with this same fear. The fear quickly evaporated as we really met each other and talked for a bit.

MEI builds a family on each trip where you feel that you truly belong. All the teachers on the trip are easy to talk to and feel more of a mentor than a normal classroom teacher who you might be intimidated to talk to. Once you start to live with everyone and move as a group, you realize that the students you are with are just like you, and you just become so quickly bonded! In the future, I look forward to travelling solo and meeting new people I might have never talked to on a normal day at home.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Kayleen Hogan

Job Title
Teacher
Kayleen joined MEI International Academy in the summer of 2019 on the Trek Through Europe program and hasn't been able to return to the regular classroom since. She went on to teach on Culture, Currency & Conflict (Fall, Term 1), Trailblazers (Fall, Term 2) and will be staying on for Kingdoms (Term 3) and Empires (Term 4) this upcoming Spring, 2020.

What is your favorite travel memory?

I'll never forget the short walk from our bus drop off that very first evening that we arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam to our hotel. It was the Asia culture shock that we had all been waiting for and the feeling was electric!

The night was lit up with a mix of rooftop restaurant fairy lights; bright, colourful food stall signs, and the golden glow from the cities oldest, gothic Cathedral towering over the square.

We navigated the chaos of motorbikes and kids running around playing Vietnamese hacky sack in the street, just in awe of this lively scene. Vines from massive, centuries-old teak trees hang over the streets, giving it a "city in the jungle" type of feel and it feels as if every resident in the city is out sitting on a little plastic stool, enjoying life together.

It was one of my favourite impressions ever of a new place.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

The biggest change for me since starting working for MEI has been the switch in teaching style that comes with having an ever-changing classroom that is literally, the world around you.

A typical day of classroom settings might look like gym class on the beach, journaling in the park, morning lesson in a cafe and evening lesson around the hotel pool. I was so used to the resources readily available to me with a traditional, brick and mortar classroom and then all of a sudden, you find yourself out there in the world, just you and the students and it's been such a fun challenge figuring out how to structure lessons around real-world learning!

It's a very collaborative, creative, and experiential approach to learning and it's definitely made me a better educator and team-teacher.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

A lot of students talk about the self-confidence that they gained from their experience on MEI. It's confidence that comes with being out there in the world, away from home on your own and navigating your insecurities, leaving behind this person that you thought you had to be all throughout high school because of the social pressures, being alone and having to make new friends for probably the first time in a long time and really, truly learning about yourself and what you are capable of overcoming.

Students go on to feel much more prepared for making that college/university transition having already gained so much independence and confidence in themselves after MEI!

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

All of the trips go to incredible locations, so it's really about where you want to go and what you are hoping to gain from this experience!

Summer programs are jam-packed, whirlwind, two-credit trips where you are going to see and do a TON in those 6 weeks and you don't need to take time away from your regular high school. This is a really popular option that most students choose in order to free up some space in their timetable and spend an exciting summer abroad.

If you want a slower-paced, more immersive experience, then semester programs are that.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

I say this all the time and I truly mean it: I have never worked with a more inspiring, creative, FUN, intelligent, dedicated and passionate team of teachers. These are not your average, everyday classroom teachers and that's what makes MEI so unique. I am always proud to be not only teaching, but collaborating with, and learning alongside my team.

The locations we visit, the courses taught, and the topics explored are all carefully planned and blended in order to deliver a unique, all-encompassing learning experience!

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Having whole-heartedly dedicated and passionate teachers is a HUGE part of the success of MEI, paired with students who are ready to come out and give it their all on the adventure of a lifetime.

Our class becomes very close, like a family unit, and the open communication, trust, and support within the group is really the foundation needed for having a successful trip. A teacher on MEI becomes also a mentor, a counselor, a tour guide, a friend, a guardian and even sometimes a nurse; an extra in your media film project, a workout partner, a lunch buddy, and soo much more!