Laurel’s Global Education Program supports cultural competence through trips, exchanges and curriculum.

Educated global citizens bring a broader perspective to their studies and learn to interact with their peers in a global arena.

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Passport Philosophy

Throughout each division and grade, Laurel’s curriculum cultivates a keen awareness in the many cultures that populate our planet. Starting in Middle School, Laurel students become eligible to participate in the school’s signature Passport program, which encompasses semester-away and exchange partnerships with schools and communities around the world, as well as a curriculum grounded in global awareness. Whether Laurel students travel the globe literally or are immersed in it figuratively, they learn to interpret worlds different from their own and to become global citizens for the 21st Century.

How It Works

Each Passport program is motivated by two objectives: to teach students about other parts of the world, and where appropriate, to emphasize the role of service in the global environment. Individual programs might be a short-term exchange(up to a month) or a focused trip (two weeks). Our focused trips tend to occur over scheduled breaks or at the end of the year to minimize school days missed. At any point in the school year, one is likely to find international students at Laurel from one of our three partnerships with exchange programs. Many of the trips are offered on rotation; some are annual. The rotation includes a variety of offerings in terms of location, purpose/areas of emphasis, and price points.


I had an amazing time on this trip, and have many memories that are unforgettable. The teachers never lost their positive energy throughout the trip. I most definitely came back from this trip with a different mindset on how I should be more sustainable!
While the trips listed below did not happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and future trips are still on hold, the following descriptions are representative of Passport trips offered in a normal school year.

Upper School Passport: 2020

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  • May 2020 Exchange to Xi’an, China

    This tour is organized through Laurel's unique and terrific relationship with the High School Affiliated to Xi'an Jiaotong University in Xi'an, China. It is open to all upper school students, though this group will be smaller (4-8 students). The dates, itinerary, and prices will be finalized over the summer and advertised in the Fall of the 2019-20 school year. While the group will see a number of cities, the highlight will be a week-long stay with our host school and families in Xi'an.
  • May 2020 Conservation & Social Justice Trip to South Africa

    Offered in partnership with EDU Africa, we are very excited to offer this opportunity for a second time! Students will have the opportunity to learn about a country that learned to heal itself and move beyond a racially segregated and deeply troubled past, and also to learn about South Africa’s phenomenal wildlife and to be actively involved in conservation efforts to protect and preserve South Africa’s rich natural heritage. It is emerging as a powerful force on the continent and in the modern world. Students will be exposed to new ideas, learn about themselves, all the while being immersed in the vibrant culture of South Africa.
  • May 2020 Northern Spain

    Offered in partnership with Explorica, we are excited to offer this arts-oriented trip to northern Spain. We will travel to a number of places to experience, among other things, the art, music, dance, and beauty of Spain. Time will be set aside to sketch and photograph. The year after the trip, the students will hang their work in an exhibit at Laurel.
  • March 2020 Immigration Study on the Border of El Paso

    In partnership with the World Leadership School, the American Girls' Schools Travel Consortium is pleased to offer a collaborative experience for students in the 9th, 10th, and 11th grades in the 2019-20 school year. The Consortium includes Nightingale-Bamford School in New York City, Agnes Irwin School in Philadelphia, Westridge School in Pasadena, Hockaday School in Dallas, and Laurel School in Shaker Heights. On the WLS program to El Paso, Texas, students will have a glimpse into the complexity of the U.S./Mexican border and immigration. While on the program students will learn about the issue through the lens of the U.S border patrol, judges and ICE agents at Immigration court and through the eyes of religious organizations & non-profits doing work on behalf of undocumented immigrants, migrant workers and asylum seekers. The program is designed to emphasize story-telling and students will hear a personal “story” daily on how immigration is impacting the community of El Paso and other parts of the U.S. As this is a joint-trip between multiple girls’ schools, participants will also have the opportunity to build relationships and collaborate with peers from like-minded schools.
  • 9th Grade Exchange with St. Mary's Anglican Girls' School in Perth, Australia

    This short-term exchange begins at the end of May, when two Laurel 9th graders travel to Perth, Australia to spend approximately 6 weeks with a host family at St. Mary's Anglican Girls' School. The second part of the exchange occurs in October and November of the following school year, when the two St. Mary's host students come to Cleveland to spend 6 weeks here at Laurel! Neither institution charges tuition or fees for the visiting students, and no academic credits are given to the visiting students.


"This was a great experience and I had a fun time while also learning a lot. Our tour guide was great and really worked with us and our needs as a whole group. I felt we learned a lot and also got to know everyone else we were on the trip with we would not usually talk to."

Middle School Passport Trip for January 2020

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  • Middle School Dog Sledding Adventure

    Offered in partnership with Wintergreen Sled Dog Adventures, this opportunity will be a great winter adventure for Middle School girls in grades 6-8. The trip will focus on experiential outdoor learning, caring for sled dogs, and team building with Wintergreen staff and each other.

Reflections from Laurel Students about Passport Trips

Laurel’s Past Passport Trips

  • Art/Art History Trip to Italy, France and Spain
  • Drama at the Stratford Festival in Canada
  • Young Women’s Leadership in the Dominican Republic
  • Ireland
  • London
  • Marine Biology and Adventure Trip to the Bahamas
  • Montreal and Quebec City
  • Service Trip to New Orleans
  • Peru’s Ancient Cultures/Service Trip
  • Prague, Vienna, and Budapest – Then and Now


More information on Passport trips, including detailed itineraries and application forms, can be found on the Passport Program Resource page (log-in required).


"When I signed up for the Peru Passport Trip, I never could have predicted that I was signing up for an experience that would change my life. I’ve gained a new interest and genuine appreciation for a culture that I didn’t know very much about. I learned so much about myself and the kind of person I want to be, as well as the mark I want to leave on the world; it changed my perspective about the world and my ability to change it for the better."
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