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.

Thomas Gallant

Job Title
Teacher
Thomas is a high school teacher from Hamilton, Ontario who has been working with MEI Academy since 2019. He taught on the 2019 International Business Trip and will be bringing his international teaching experience to Europe on the 2020 Term 3 Kingdoms program.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favourite travel memory comes from this past summer outside of Beijing where I was fortunate enough to go to The Great Wall of China.

I climbed all the way up with a few brave students, and the process of hiking to the top alongside them was a truly incredible bonding experience. The satisfaction and camaraderie we experienced upon finally looking out over the Chinese countryside were spectacular.

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

Since working for MEI, I have changed my teaching philosophy pretty drastically. Having the ability to work alongside such stellar teachers and see how they go about their teaching practice every day has inspired me to not only continue to learn and grow in my main teachable subject areas, but to try to become more well-rounded.

The multi-disciplinary approach to teaching allows students to make connections between different subjects and practices, and helps them to gain a worldview which is academically robust and culturally comprehensive. Furthermore, I have learned the value of having a "figure it out" mindset. If I don't know something, or how to do something, I will do my very best to figure it out with help from my fellow educators, and I do my best to instill this "can-do" attitude in my students.

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

The best story I have heard from a return student was actually this past week. One of my former students is a high-level hockey player, and as an avid fan myself, we discussed it extensively on the trip. Upon reconnecting with him, he shared with me that he had received a scholarship to play in university, and said that some of the different exercises and strategies we had discussed over the summer had helped him to improve to that point.

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

Honestly, I love working with this company so much, that I would be thrilled to go away and teach on any of their amazing programs. Eventually, my hope is to go away and explore all of the different programs they have to offer.

However, if I was absolutely forced to choose one, I would love to go to New Zealand, Australia, and Bali: Trailblazers trip. The combination of so many different outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, surfing, scuba diving, yoga, and boating just sounds so appealing. Beaches, mountains, and tropical islands on the same trip? Sign me up!

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

The coolest thing about MEI Academy that sets it apart from the regular teaching experience, or other international teaching companies that I have worked with, is its commitment to truly experiential learning.

When MEI Academy says they bring education out of the classroom and into the real world, they mean it! Learning about the French Revolution AT the Palace of Versailles, trading and bonds AT the New York Stock Exchange, and about Mao Zedong AT the forbidden tomb allows students to feel like they aren't just learning about a subject, they are a part of it.

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

I believe that the biggest factor in being a successful company is, quite simply, human connection. Joe and Rita Mei have made me feel like a part of the family alongside the rest of the staff, and have created a fun company culture of respect and open discourse which is so valuable.

On top of that, the connections I have seen and experienced between the teachers and the students on these trips are incredible. The teachers at MEI just care so deeply about each and every student they interact with. This approach is very successful, as evidenced by the huge number of return students, and the sheer number of word of mouth referrals to other students.