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

Reviews

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

MEI Spring Semester 2022

Nothing compares to the experiences and the friends I have made on the trip. This experience has made truly life-changing remarks and allowed me to explore aspects of our world that I did not think possible. From scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef to visiting the archeological sites of Angkor Wat, MEI is the perfect mix of travel and high-quality education. Throughout my travels, I have developed a far greater sense of work ethic, teamwork and leadership abilities. My teachers were willing to go above and beyond their jobs to ensure that every student fully utilized their full potential. Furthermore, the friends that I have made on the trip will leave a permanent imprint on my heart, never would I have thought that such talented individuals existed. I could not have asked for a better final semester.

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

Semester and Term Programs in Asia and Australia

I did the MEI big year, and it was an experience I will never forget. Although it was not what I expected, I would not trade it for any other travel program. In the span of seventy days, I was able to - ski in Whistler, dive in the Great Barrier Reef, hold a monkey in Bali,take a surfing lesson, swim in a waterfall, sing karaoke in Seoul, and many more. While doing these unforgettable experiences, I was able to learn about the world around me in a truly unique way.

MEI has changed me in ways that I cannot begin to explain. The friendships I have made while travelling with MEI will forever be cherished in my heart. The teachers have left such a mark in the way I see and appreciate the world.

I recommend MEI for anyone who can, wake up early, learn on the go, and is eager to learn about the vast world that we live in.

Default avatar
Evan
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

MEI

Experienced things that made me question, think, and pick my own brain about. In all, made me a deeper thinker. Made life long friends to travel with in the future. And had some really cool fun experience’s that I’ll never forget. Uncovered my love for travel and made me realize how I want to life my life. Is a really great program for students that want to do more then just sit in a classroom all day and learn academics that probably don’t intrige them, and instead want to learn through experience and see the world.

Pros
  • Travel experience
  • Culture immersion
  • Safe
Cons
  • Not complete freedom
  • Unique teaching that might not be for everyone
  • Can be mentally tiring
Default avatar
Brooklyn
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Summer Unlike Any Other

MEI Academy has undoubtedly changed my life. This was my second trip with the academic academy, and my expectations were once again exceeded. Working with teachers so dedicated to their job was refreshing and extremely beneficial to my experience. Travelling overseas as a student may be nerve-wracking, however MEI Academy places great significance on the health and safety of each student. The world really is our classroom and I have found it to be the most effective learning environment. Imagine sitting down for a lesson about ancient Greece just outside the Acropolis- there is simply no better way to learn. I will forever cherish the lessons I learned and the friendships I gained this past summer.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I experienced so many rare events this summer, however hiking up Mount Zas on the island of Naxos and being followed by goats the entire way up definitely wins this one!
Default avatar
Maya
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience

I had an amazing experience in Greece with MEI. All the teachers were genuinely interested in our wellbeing and making sure we all had an enjoyable experience. All the places that we stayed at were amazing and well set up and you could clearly see all the planning that went into our trip. Not once did I feel uneasy or unsafe. I can confidently say that I grew both as a student and a person on this trip. I actually really enjoyed all of our assignments and lessons and felt as though they really fit the places we were visiting. The people were great and I will cherish the memories that I made on this trip for many years to come!

Programs

Displaying 1 - 9 of 12

Alumni Interviews

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

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.

Michael Gibbons

Job Title
Lead Teacher and Program Coordinator
Mike was a semester student with MEI International Academy in 2009. He returned in 2016 as a Lead Teacher and Course Developer, taking students throughout Europe. His specialty in humanities with a focus on Modern History has helped him lead the Trek Through Europe, Footsteps to the Modern World, and the Online Live History Program.
a young man wearing dress apparel and sunglasses

What is your favorite travel memory?

Of the many memories I have made in my years of travel with MEI, one of my favourites has to be my first lesson ever as a teacher. Sitting at Hyde Park in London, teaching about the modern world; Surveillance, Terrorism, and the start to the 21st century. My lesson was interrupted by the Queen, who was receiving the King of Spain, all while MI5 agents ensured the Queen's safety with snipers and surveillance. During my first lesson, I could not have planned for such a vivid example of the themes.

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

All MEI trips allow students and teachers to grow and learn from our travels in the world together. I have grown and learned so much from my colleagues and my students on each of my programs, but the aspect that sticks out most is patience. Patience waiting for flights or hotels, patience waiting for museums or restaurants, and patience with students and new travellers trying to find their way. I truly believe that patience is one of the most essential traits for any teacher, but travelling with 30 teenagers across Europe has developed my patience far more than I could have ever imagined.

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

The best story I have heard from a returning student was actually from one of my students' parents. They wrote to me, "... As parents, we are most impressed and even conversations at home about current events have been even better because [our daughters] critical thinking has been elevated and she is asking phenomenal questions now that she is viewing things with a different lens." As an educator, it is always my goal for students to see the world with different perspectives to understand any topic.

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

As a History and Geography teacher, my choice is simple: Expedition to Tanzania. That program (while the most different) offers a unique opportunity to live and learn from locals while seeing some of the world's most important ecosystems. The World Issues course allows students and teachers to dive into the current issues facing Tanzania, Africa, and the developing world more broadly, all while camping on Safari or volunteering with a local school group. For me, the combination of location and learning puts Expedition to Tanzania on the top of my list.

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

MEI Academy is unique because of the people. MEI works because of the people involved, from the enthusiastic and knowledgeable teachers to engaged and motivated students. We often say MEI teachers, students, and parents are “kindred spirits” because of our shared values and love of travel. On every program I have been a part of (including as a student), I’m always proud of how MEI travels. As a student group, we often have some friction trying new places or new locations, but we always rise to the occasion. Most recently, in Amsterdam on the Footsteps Through the Modern World program, the hotel was very hesitant to accept our group. However, when we left, the hotelier and staff at the hotel said they had never had such a kind and respectful group of students, and we would be welcomed back anytime at any of their hotels. Another example that comes to mind was in Switzerland at the restaurant where I was having lunch. They mentioned that they only accept one group of students from a school in Canada, MEI Academy.

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

The people. No matter where I am in the world, or what company or school I am engaged with, the most significant factor in success comes down to the people involved. MEI has always picked the best people, and many of our students return as teachers because they know the program, they know the expectations and buy-in to the MEI ethos. Live your education.