Global Learning

Asheville School partners with Students Shoulder to Shoulder (SStS) to provide meaningful service learning courses in seven international and three domestic locations. So far, over 20 Asheville School students and two faculty members have participated in this amazing opportunity, and all have been profoundly influenced by the remarkable experience. All rising 4th, 5th, and 6th formers who participate in an SStS course fulfill their graduation requirement for service.

View the SStS course descriptions and apply online now! The earlier students apply, the better. Click here to see the SStS brochure for Summer 2018.

Interested students and families should contact Seth Buddy ( for more information.

Students Shoulder to Shoulder Trips

Pine Ridge, SD

Azana Green '17 (Arden, NC) and Miles Loftis '18 (Asheville, NC) both traveled to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, which is home to the Lakota people. "This was eye opening because I had never heard of the Lakota people," Green said.

Loftis was surprised to learn about the rich history of the Lakota people and shocked by the poverty on the reservation. "You don't expect to see that kind of poverty in America," he said. "I learned about myself and the need to do service. People all around the world and in America need that help. Service is imperative."

The students helped paint and prepare a new school for Lakota girls, helped gather supplies for traditional ceremonies, and helped prepare a camp for Lakota children. They learned about and participated in traditional ceremonies with Lakota community members, and met and worked with children on the reservation.

"I really connected to one girl; we had a lot in common," Green said. "The people we met were very open and welcoming."

"I learned so much about this culture," Lofits said. "I was able to participate in a sweat lodge ceremony, called Inipi, and I came out of it feeling new. It was amazing."

Green added, "You come together and really form connections with the other people on your trip. You are all stretching out of your comfort zone together."

Read SStS travel journal entries from Miles and Azana.

Detroit, MI

Claire Hill '19 (Asheville, NC) traveled to Detroit, where she worked with a non-profit dedicated to revitalizing several blocks in one of Detroit's neighborhoods most affected by the economic collapse. Students worked with children, distributed food, fixed up a gas station, and met local residents.

One project stood out to Hill. Students helped create a garden dedicated to the memory of a local woman who was important to the community. When the garden was finished, they unveiled it to her family. "It was powerful because it meant so much to them," Hill said. "We could see how much our work meant to the community."

Read Claire's SStS travel journal entry here.


Lily Formato '18 (Wytheville, VA) traveled to a village in Kenya, where she worked in a children's home and hauled bricks and mixed cement to help build a cottage. "I had never done anything like that before," she said.

Formato was surprised by how different Kenya was than she expected. She mentioned she did not realize that Kenya had a large mobile banking industry, and it was surprising to see people in rural villages on cell phones.

"I thought everyone would be really different than me," she said. "But the kids and other teenagers were just like us."

Formato was struck by the sense of community in the village. She described the culture as far more communal than what she is used to. She was moved by the connection that was evident in the interactions of the members of the village where she stayed and worked.

Read Lily's SStS travel journal entry here.


Counti McCutchen '18 (Asheville, NC) traveled to Nicaragua, where she worked at a bilingual school and helped build a classroom using "eco-bricks" made from plastic bottles.

"I learned that it is so easy to help others, whether you go all the way to Nicaragua or stay here in Asheville, just by educating yourself," said McCutchen.

"Doing Shoulder-to-Shoulder is worth it. It is worth it for you personally and to the people who you impact through your work. Seeing what a difference we made in a short amount of time makes me excited for the next group to return to Ompetepe and continue to work with the amazing people there."

Read Counti's SStS travel journal entries here and here.


Joseph Heck '17 (Asheville, NC) traveled to Peru. He worked with a non-profit that serves children who have been orphaned or abandoned. He helped build a volleyball court and benches, paint a house, and completed other tasks at the children's home and school. He and the other students then went on a three-day hike into the mountains of Peru.

Working with these children was a moving experience for Heck. "I learned that it is very important to be grateful. Not only in retrospect, but in every moment of life," he said. "The children in this village found the most happiness in the smallest things. I believe there is much to learn from that."

"There was a lot of hard work involved, but it was really satisfying to know that my work was helping out the people in the community," Heck said.

"I believe everyone should take trips like these," Heck said. "It will most definitely get you out of your comfort zone and make you look at yourself and the life you live in a different way."

Read Joseph's SStS travel journal entry here.


Timothy Lynch '17 (Village of Golf, FL) traveled to Tibet, where he stayed with three different local families, went to a monastery, and learned about Tibetan culture.

When asked what he learned from his trip, Timothy responded, "How to use a squat toilet." He then added "And to take risks and go on adventures."

Timothy was in awe of the landscape. One day after he and other students finished their work, they decided to hike up a mountain. He said that upon reaching the summit, he could see the Himalayas for the first time, and that the sight stood out to him as one of the most personally important moments of the trip.

Read Timothy's SStS travel journal entry here.