The ultimate field trip! Winterline students travel all over the world, including to Estes Park, Colorado, home to the Rocky Mountain National Park headquarters, to learn wilderness first aid.
Late night scuba diving in Panama, wilderness first aid in the Rockies, cooking in Cambodia, building robots in Germany… and there’s still six countries to go, as well as some 96 more skills to learn.
This is a new kind of school, kids. Headquartered in Kendall Square, the Winterline Global Skills Program produces a nine-month gap year for high school graduates and college students. Its curriculum? Real life. Its classroom? The planet. Its purpose, via a non-curricular education, is to provide students a grade-A schooling on how to succeed in life—a goal that founder and serial entrepreneur Jeet Singh thinks colleges are getting all wrong.
“If the purpose of higher education is to provide young people with the tools to be enlightened and engaged citizens, help them to find fulfilling and productive careers, and to give them the skills to succeed in an increasingly competitive and globalized world, then it’s mostly been failing,” says Singh, whose inaugural “class” of 16 students (from the US, Mexico, Nepal, India, Colombia, and Canada) completes the program’s first year this May. “Winterline hopes to fill a gap in these areas that are poorly addressed in their university curriculum.”
Molly Shunney, a Grafton native in the inaugural class, might agree. She certainly didn’t learn bungee jumping or dairy farming at the University of Massachusetts. But she did in Costa Rica. “This program is changing my life,” she says. “I am experiencing things and seeing places that I never could have dreamed of.”
For Singh, that’s the point. “It seemed to me that young people were sorely lacking in basic life skills, resilience, and awareness of the world, well into young adulthood,” he says. “It also seemed that it was possible to teach many of these capabilities in a focused way at this very formative time of life.”
Shunney hopes to land a job in sports management after Winterline. Though, whatever she pursues, she credits Winterline for instilling the right attitude. “I have learned how to live in the moment. I have a sense of peace,” she says. “It’s a big world out there.”