International Studies

Global Mindedness Begins Here

At Country Day, global mindedness is about far more than travel—it's about building bridges to other people and places. 

Our curriculum is infused with connection-making opportunities and a deep and varied international travel program, which offers Middle and Upper School students the chance to participate in sister school exchanges and global service, academic, environmental science, and cultural immersion experiences around the world. Country Day is home to families and students who represent a wide range of cultures and nationalities, giving our students an opportunity to connect to a world that becomes smaller every day.

This opportunity exposes our students to Chinese culture, history, language, and lifestyles, and offers opportunities for creating bonds with Chinese peers. Points of interest include Shanghai, Nanjing, Shandong, and Beijing, including, the Great Wall.
Seventh and eighth grade students learn insight into the people, places, and institutions that define war and peace in the 20th century. Students must be members of the Model UN Club to participate.
Students explore the Ancient Roman Ruins
Eighth grade students are exposed to a deeper appreciation of the rich cultural roots of the Latin language through an exploration of Ancient Roman sites in Italy.
Student visit Quebec
Sixth grade students enjoy a homestay with a Quebecois family taking in both French-Canadian culture and "the culture of winter" as they experience Quebec in February, including its famous winter Carnaval, dog-sledding, ice hotel, and snowshoeing.
Students visit Stonehenge
Highlights of this experience include a homestay with a buddy in Southampton, class visits, and dedicated time to work on creative projects. In addition, students tour Stonehenge, Oxford, and London.
Students visit Costa Rica
This exchange provides seventh grade Spanish-language students the opportunity to hear and speak the Spanish Spanish language and be immersed in Costa Rican culture, including the rich biodiversity of this beautiful country.
Students explore the waterfalls in Costa Rica
Highlights of the Costa Rica exchange include a homestay with a buddy in San Jose, class visits, and exploring the rainforest, waterfalls, coffee plantation, Arenal Volcano and Monteverde Cloud Forest, and more.

Global Experiences Abroad

Beginning in the Middle School in sixth grade, our students are offered a broad range of international travel experiences in global service, academic, cultural, environmental science, and language immersion opportunities to a large number of countries around the world, including:

Middle School Upper School
  • Canada Sister School Exchange (6th grade)
  • Costa Rica Sister School Exchange (7th grade)
  • England Creative Arts Exchange (8th grade)
  • Model UN Conference/France/Netherlands (8th grade)
  • Peru Sister School Exchange (8th grade)
  • "Roads to Rome" Latin, Italy (8th grade)
  • Australia (Environmental Science)
  • Ecuador & Galapagos (Spanish Immersion)
  • China
  • Greece
  • Hungary (Service)
  • Iceland (Environmental Science)
  • India
  • Italy (Arts)
  • Japan
  • Martinique (French Immersion)
  • Morocco
  • Oman & United Arab Emirates
  • Scotland (Theater)
  • South Africa (Service)
  • Spain (Spanish Immersion)

Sister School Exchanges

Peru Machu Picchu 2018

For nearly three decades, we have cultivated sister school partnerships in eight countries and promoted experiences abroad for students in grades 6–12. Since 1992, more than 2,000 Country Day students have traveled on sister school exchanges. Our current partnerships include Canada, England, Peru, and Costa Rica. The two-week exchanges are led by Country Day teachers and faculty leaders and include homestays, sightseeing, and some classes. Students prepare by delving into the history, culture, and customs of the country they will visit, and then return to enrich the entire Country Day community by sharing what they've experienced. During the school year, Country Day welcomes sister school friends in Charlotte. 

“They never failed to make me laugh and feel overwhelmingly happy. I cannot explain a better feeling than when one of my kids was able to piece together a sentence in English or remember an English vocabulary word that I had taught them the previous day.”

— Student Parker Shelton in a reflection on her experience in KÉtsoprony, Hungary, where she and other Country Day students traveled

Going "Glocal:" Bringing the World to Country Day

As a school, we embrace the term "glocal," which emphasizes understanding the global diversity and resources in the community where one lives prior to exploring the world beyond our borders. Global mindedness isn't only about international travel—it's also about bringing the world to us. In all three divisions, guests regularly visit classes to discuss the world beyond our borders. For example:

  • A parent from Brazil comes in to meet with junior kindergarten students.
  • Thirty community members, all representing different national backgrounds, are interviewed by students for the seventh-grade Global Village project.
  • Country Day hosts an exchange teacher from Nanjing, China, for three months.
  • On campus, our students can join a wide range of global-themed extracurricular clubs including the Global Explorers (Lower School), Model United Nations and Global Action Team (Middle School), and Model United Nations, Interact Club, International Studies Board, World Quest, Euro Challenge, and other globally themed services clubs (Upper School). Our parents are supported through the International Parent Board and the Parent Global Ambassadors.
  • Off campus, students are regularly involved in community international festivals and events sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Charlotte and International House. Country Day also has strong relationships with members of the North Carolina Diplomatic Corp., consisting of honorary consuls representing over 20 countries, and regularly hosts on-campus forums, international film screens, and cultural presentations.
  • Students have participated in lunches with visiting diplomats, including the ambassadors of Myanmar, Finland, Jamaica, Czech Republic, Germany, and Cape Verde. These interactions provide students with intimate insight into the world of diplomacy and a chance to interact with leaders on the world stage.
Student teaching children about her country

Our curriculum is infused with connection-making opportunities. For example:

  • Lower School Spanish language students converse with their teacher's daughter via Skype to learn about living in Costa Rica, and third graders perform a play centered on global themes.
  • Middle School students use foreign soil samples in environmental science, and they master the rules of cricket in physical education.
  • Upper School students contrast the U.S. system with other countries in AP Comparative Government and choose from elective courses such as World Religions and International Relations.

Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Program—the first offered in North Carolina and the only IB diploma offered by the region's independent schools—is a globally recognized, rigorous course of study that focuses on culture, language, and world citizenship.

Our international research grants send Country Day teachers to learn in destinations throughout the world each summer and they bring their experiences, insights, and understanding of other cultures back to their classrooms.

International Studies Program Facts

  • First comprehensive International Studies Program in Charlotte.
  • First school in North Carolina to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma.
  • First school in NC to visit Cuba.
  • First high school in North Carolina to establish a full teacher exchange with a school in China.
  • More than 70 international guest speakers including Mikhail Gorbachev, Shimon Peres, John Majors, and Lech Walesa.
  • For more than 10 years, Country Day students have finished in first place at the Academic WorldQuest competition nearly every year.
  • Country Day is the only independent day school in North Carolina with a full-time English as a Second Language program.

Global-Minded Faculty

Travel is essential to Country Day’s broad approach to global mindedness, and that includes our faculty and staff. Grants and sabbaticals, funded through our endowment, parent support groups, and other organizations, make it possible for our teachers to pursue knowledge through firsthand experiences all over the globe. They bring their experiences, insights, and understanding of other cultures back to their classrooms, broadening the global perspectives of their students.

  • 93 percent of our faculty and staff have traveled abroad at one point in their lives. 
  • When faculty were surveyed for countries where they had lived for three months or longer, allowing for a rich and cultural immersion experience, 50 countries were identified.
  • Collectively, our faculty speak over 20 languages, with greater than 100 faculty speaking a second language at the conversational level or higher.

“It is critical that the faculty at Country Day have authentic experiences that bring the curriculum to life for our students. Rather than being limited to textbooks and the internet, our students have science teachers who have researched in the Galapagos Islands, English teachers that have studied at Oxford University, and History teachers that have explored the cultures of countless countries around the world.”

Scott Waybright, Assistant Head of School

China Teacher Exchange

In 2007, Country Day was the first independent school to offer a full teacher exchange between a North Carolina high school and a high school from the People’s Republic of China. Nearly every year we send a faculty member to teach at our sister school, the High School Affiliated to Nanjing Normal University, and we welcome and host one of their teachers at Country Day.

Global Learning

Below are examples of global experiences involving Country Day teachers:

Africa: Senegal education and culture
Bahamas: Bahamian Reef Survey
Balkans: World View study trip
Brazil: Oppression in the Americas
Egypt: Politics and religion
England: Virginia Woolf research
Galapagos: Plant and animal diversity
Germany: Curriculum comparison
Greece: Global technology
Iceland: Environmental science
Ireland: Connecting life with literature
Italy: Architectural math concepts
Japan: Cultural interaction
Russia: Collaborative Web research
Spain: Exploration of America
Turkey: World Cultures art exploration

Meet Our Team

David Lynn

David Lynn

Director of International Studies

E-mail | (704) 943-4566

David joined Country Day as Director of International Studies in 2013. Previously he taught social studies at the American School of Paris in France, Shackleton School in Massachusetts, Linyi Yi Zhong Middle School in China, and Guzsalyas School in Hungary. An avid world traveler, David has explored over 100 countries and all 50 states. He earned his BA in history and leadership studies from the University of Richmond and his MEd from Harvard University. David currently serves on the Charlotte International Cabinet, the Board of the Global Education Benchmark Group, and is active in Rotary International. He and his wife have four children, two who currently attend Country Day.

Nancy Hackett

Nancy Hackett

International Studies Administrative Assistant

E-mail | (704) 943-4565

Nancy joined the International Studies team in November 1994. Nancy enjoys working with all the students she encounters at Country Day. She especially enjoys seeing students grow as a result of reaching out to experience international opportunities.


Jessica Newman

Jessica Newman

Global Learning Coordinator

E-mail | (704) 943-4902

Jessica joined the International Studies team in 2012. Having taught French at Country Day for seven years, Jessica has a passion for all things international. Her work in the International Studies Office includes developing and leading the Canadian Sister School program from its inception. Jessica holds a BA in French from Furman University and an MA in French Literature and Language from Boston College. Most recently she was awarded two Fulbright Hays grants, which deepened her understanding of diverse cultures in Cyprus and Morocco.

International Parents Group

In our own community, our International Parents Group, a parent volunteer organization and subgroup of the Parents' Association, provides incredible support as we build our global learning environment. Representing 45 nationalities, this group regularly volunteers with classroom activities, campus events, and organizes the International Cafe at Big Saturday, which raises over $4,300 for the school.

This group also plays a vital role in supporting global families who are new to the Country Day community, and in many case, new to the country. Learn more.

Current Parents

To learn detailed information about upcoming global experiences, visit the International Studies page on PowerSchool (under the "Extras" tab) by first logging onto the parent portal of BucsNet.


Global Experiences

What is Cultural Agility and Why does it Matter?

In our increasingly interdependent global landscape, it is more important than ever to teach students about different cultures and communities around the world. Head of Lower School Bill Mulcahy shares the work we're doing with our youngest students to help them be better prepared for future success in the global economy.

How Two 15-Year-Olds Inspired a Trip to the Other Side of the World

When Carter DeMordaunt and Daniel Tierney were freshmen, they helped to inspire, plan, and lead an environmental studies experience in Australia. The idea germinated from their experience in eighth-grade science, and their teacher, Simon Keilty, served as one of the trip leaders. You can learn more about this and other Upper School global experiences on November 13, at the International Studies Family Information Meeting.

A Passport to the World Begins in Charlotte

A typical day for a Country Day Middle School student might include learning Spanish from a native speaker, studying science with a teacher who spent time in Iceland on a research grant to explore geology, while sitting next to a peer who recently emigrated from China. That same student meets on a regular basis with the Middle School Model United Nations team to discuss and debate current global political issues while also volunteering at OurBridge, a Charlotte-based nonprofit serving young people from refugee families who are new to the community. In social studies, this student is part of a team that is researching South Africa and interviewing a native of the country for their seventh-grade Global Village Project. Without ever having to use a passport, this student is exposed to our world in rich, purposeful, and transformational ways.