explo alums break a leg

Joe Fabal [Intermediate Faculty '06-'09] is the composer/lyricist for the musical entitled The Tenth Floor that was accepted into the 2010 New York Musical Theatre Festival—the world's largest festival of its type. “This is easily the single most important professional event for me,” says Joe, “In case you happened to be around NYC between 9/27 and 10/10, you might want to stop by and see it!” The heavy plot is set to a contemporary score with touches of rock and salsa. Joe also composed the music and lyrics for Help Wanted: Pirates!, a children’s musical that recently premiered this July at the Millbrook Playhouse.

Jordan Harrison (Junior Faculty '05-'06) has also pursued numerous theatrical endeavors since working as an Explo Admission's Officer in 2008. “I checked off one item on my list of childhood dreams by playing numerous superheroes, henchmen, and other comic books figures in the smash hit world premiere of The Superheroine Monologues,” says Jordan. He also had an amazing opportunity, originating the role of Mint in the never-before-seen The Remarkable Rooming-House of Mme. Le Monde, a world premiere play by the late Tennessee Williams. Jordan also toured Boston metro area schools performing as Bottom and Demetrius in A Midsummer Night's Dream with Shakespeare NOW theater company.

explo abroad

  This past spring, Andrew Smith [Junior '07-'10] taught in a school in Naivasha, Kenya, built by volunteers who formed the “KCC Slum Project” in 2009. The KCC Slum —named after the nearby Kenyan Creamery Cooperation—is home to about 4000 people, including 600 children. After the first month's feeding program, which fed the hungry children, the volunteers set out to begin the school and educate 130 students ages 2 to 12.

Both the feeding program and school are supported by donations collected each month. To provide jobs for the needy, four teachers were hired from the community to teach in a four room school house, divided into a daycare and grades 1 to 3.

“I began in Grade 2, teaching the class and helping to support the Kenyan teacher hired from the slum. The teachers are only about 18 years old and have very little education themselves, so more and more my job became supporting all the teachers and teaching them how to teach,” says Andrew.

Andrew’s focus was on literacy education and he helped teachers develop strategies for teaching reading and writing both in English and Kiswahili. Since he was the only volunteer who was a certified teacher, he also did a lot of basic school building such as developing standards for each grade, baselining students' reading and writing levels, and introducing concepts like differentiation, student-centered instruction, and assessment-driven lesson planning and curriculum development.

“The school still has a long way to go but the KCC Slum Project has a 20 year vision,” says Andrew.

The project hopes to relocate the community, create a full k-12 school and orphanage, a vocational and boarding school. Other goals include drastically improving the standard of living for the entire community by creating sustainable, safe, affordable housing and increasing access to education and jobs for adults in the community.

“I love working with kids all over the world,” says Andrew, “And I particularly admire how the children I have met here are so selfless, happy, and energetic despite the fact that many of their basic needs are barely being met, if at all. The work has been emotionally draining, and extremely challenging but some of the most rewarding I have ever done.”

To learn more about how you can help the KCC Slum Project, visit the website at www.kccslumproject.com and follow the blog at www.kccslumproject.wordpress.com

Andrew is currently back at the Junior Program this summer as Director of the Programming Office.

Recently, Andrew Durant [Intermediate Faculty '02] an MBA student at Babson College traveled for 2 weeks with 27 other students between Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai on an offshore elective course in China. The primary purpose of the course was to study several critical industries in the Chinese economy and learn about the economic realities of doing business in the country. Andrew had the opportunity to visit companies and see presentations across a variety of different industries, including manufacturing, educational, financial services, real estate, bio-pharmaceuticals, and distribution.

“Broadly, I would say that the most incredible thing about visiting China was seeing firsthand the tremendous growth that is taking place throughout the country,” says Andrew. “The amount of construction and infrastructure that is being developed is unlike anything I thought I would ever see. Cities such as Shanghai are incredibly sophisticated and cosmopolitan and there are areas of the city such as the financial center which did not exist even 15 years ago. Everywhere you turn, there is something new and exciting going on, and the energy in these cities is remarkable.”

Andrew really enjoyed getting a chance to visit the Shanghai World Expo which is running from May to October. It is estimated that there are currently approx. 500,000 people attending the Expo each day and after waiting in long lines to enter some of the pavilions. “I believe it!” says Andrew. “It is an enormous undertaking and to see how much preparation and planning went into it is amazing.”


hot off the press

“If I were a teacher at my high school, I would give my students the best education possible through hands-on experiences,” writes Lauren Bersek [Intermediate '07-'08] in a piece published in the Bergen Record.

Lauren, a sophomore at Academies @ Englewood—a New Jersey public school of choice that offers career academies—cites her experience at Exploration's Intermediate Program as very influential. She believes in the importance of applying subjects to real-life experience; learning outside the classroom on trips; that teachers should be role-model and classes should engage the students; and that learning should be challenging but fun.

“I have never comprar viagra seen teachers with so much enthusiasm! Their passion, energy and willingness to teach their students to be open to all types of learning inspired me,” writes Lauren.

Currently, Lauren is focusing on bio-medicine at Academies @ Englewood. She is also a member of the Health Occupations Student Association, French National Honor Society, and a copy editor of the Maroon Tribune.

explo events on youtube

If you're ever craving a dose of Explo, check out these videos of iconic Explo events that have made it onto YouTube...

The Numa Craze

There have been many dance crazes throughout history—the Charleston, Twist, Macarrena. Yet those may pale in comparison to the dance phenomenon that swept through St. Mark's campus in the summer of 2006—the Numa. Set to the tune of the '04 Euro chart topping single “dragostea din tei” a Romanian pop song—also known as The Numa Numa song—by the group O-Zone , the Numa is almost a daily ritual at the Junior program, bringing students running to the lower quad at the first beats of the song.

Yet how did the Numa make it all the way from The Republic of Moldova to the bucolic fields of of Southborough, Massachusetts?

Carleton College alumna and staff Becky Craig [Junior Faculty '05-'06, '10] along with Nick Kilburg [Junior Faculty '06-'07], adapted a dance created by a Carleton dance group, based on a YouTube video. The silly dance was performed by a few students during an activity, soon spread in '06 when the entire program also learned it. Suffice to say, with the combination of fun moves, a catchy song, and major staff enthusiasm, it's no wonder why the Numa has become a Junior Program phenomenon. From the first day of staff orientation when it's taught, to the last days of the program, students can't get enough of “Numa, numa iei, numa, numa, iei.”

10's All Around

The Dean's Office at the Junior Program was going for the Gold at the summer '08 Olympic “theme day.” Since it was the last theme day of the year, captain Tim Watson [Junior Faculty '07-present] knew it was clutch time to lead his team to victory in a lunchtime assembly performance—and nothing spells victory like an interpretive synchronized swimming dance. While another deans office member had come up with the idea to make costumes complete with bathing caps, Watson heralded the call to scour the campus for a blue tarp to represent the pool. He also pondered about the perfect song choice. “I flipped through the itunes in our office and thought "Eye of the Tiger" is always a great choice for anything ridiculous.”

Yet could the dean's office come up with the moves to pull this off? Over lunch, the master multi-taskers choreographed their brilliant dance which was soon met with the cheering roar of the the Junior Program crowd in the St. Marks gymnasium. The interpretive synchronized swimming dance ended with Tim's grand finale idea to ride the “elevator”where the entire team pushed imaginary buttons and everyone sunk into the “pool." “I think the whole concept of me coming up with anything was funny because I usually hate being on stage, I am horrible at dancing, and have no idea how to choreograph. Typical day at Explo.”

Who's got a fun fact?

Last summer, when Intermediate Assembly Coordinator Cora Meginsky [Intermediate Faculty '07-'09] wanted to add another fun staple to the daily line-up—which included “Birthday Dan” and “What's in Cora's Backpack”—she reached back to memories of her previous winter's travels through Israel.

“Our trip leader would give us a "fun fact" about Israel every day over the microphone on the tour bus and one of the other people on the trip created the Fun Fact song,” says Cora. “It became something to look forward to that was more important than the fact being shared.”

After Cora shared the song with Intermediate Faculty Joe Fabal [Intermediate Faculty '06-'09]—who happened to have his Master's degree in Musical Theatre Composition—the duo introduced reworked the lyrics and Joe set some chords to it. While the tune was recorded to be played every day, on certain occasions, Cora and Joe—with guitar in hand—would take to stage for a Fun Fact sing along. Lyrics were printed in that day's Explorer and to supplement the facts Cora found online and in her “Encyclopedia of Useless Information,” students were encouraged to submit their ideas in her collection box.

“Sometimes I would have a student share their fun fact with the rest of the Intermediate Program on stage during community meeting,” says Cora. “We even had contests during main events in which we judged students' Fun Facts on of course, their factuality and fun-ness.”


After hours of practicing their tangos, hiphop moves, harmonies and jams, students in the Senior Program's performing arts classes take to the stage at one of the summer's highlight events—Explopalooza. The much anticipated show is held at the end of each session in Yale's University Theater, a massive space which squeezes in all students at the Program. Everyone is there to cheer on their friends who take to the stage.

High energy group hip hop dances have recently been all the rage, as is shown in this video, where Explo students get their groove on. "The hip hop performances are always the most spirited," says Kyle Geiste [Senior Faculty '07-'09], "The way students relate to hip hop—they exude this confidence. You see students light up that you would never expect to light up—which is always fulfilling."

Kyle also notes that the STOMP! performance—where a group creates a scene and injects rythm into it—is also one of the most sought after. "It's funny, incredibly creative, and theatrical," says Geiste. "It's hard to keep people from clapping—the performance is always surprising."

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