Winterim Questions for Paul Taylor

Nisma Qureshi

I asked Paul Taylor a few questions about Winterim.

Being a new student at OES I have never really heard anything about this infamous event, so if you’re confused like me, continue reading.

Winterim is a very interesting event that is unique to OES. It allows students to choose what they want to do outside of a classroom setting as an engaging learning experience. The planning mastermind behind this extravagant undertaking is Paul Taylor. Paul Taylor is the Interim Winterim and Off Campus Coordinator, which I have learned is a really fancy way of saying that he directs the trips. He also is the reason you have been receiving many emails about signing up for Winterim. I’m very thankful for his work though, because it allows us to have great experiences and make great memories outside of school. Anyways, moving on to the reason you decided to read this article, here are some of the Frequently Asked Questions about Winterim:


–  What is the purpose of Winterim?

Winterim courses are one of our biggest opportunities to further the experiential education and social/emotional development of our student community. The courses are designed to encourage students to cultivate their curiosity and reach beyond what is familiar to them. Actively engaging in, connecting with, and then reflecting on, new places, cultures, and ideas are the foundation of Witerim learning outcomes and are a huge part of our inquiry based learning cycle. Additionally, we want our students to experience the joy of learning in an environment beyond the classroom!

– When will we be able to do international trips?

Well, we’re hoping to return to offering international courses next year! Obviously, we will continue to monitor the global COVID-19 pandemic and will make our decision based on the concern and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and the communities in which we hope to share experiences with. In short, it’s hard to say for certain, but next year 2022/2023 is the hope!

– How does Winterim set OES apart from the other schools?

The Winterim courses at OES have become part of the fabric of the larger student experience. While there are other schools around the country who also focus on creating experiential education opportunities, the level of dedication to this at OES is top shelf! This year we are offering 28 separate courses for students to enroll in for Winterim, with over 10 of them being domestic travel courses that take students far away from the Portland area. Many of the schools that I’ve worked with as clients or partners over my career have an annual one day or two day event that gets students out of the classroom, while many others have no programming like that at all. While it’s an incredible privilege to have the resources to offer these Winterim courses, having the support of the school to such a high degree is rare in my experience. The dedication and intentionality to continue this program provides a great foundation for the OES vision and legacy of experiential education to live on.

– What do students have to do to make their own trip?

Students who would like to propose a Winterim course should contact me, or even better, come and speak with me. I love meeting students and having conversations with them, especially hearing about topics that are exciting or interesting to them! My office is upstairs in the Great Hall in the Office of Service learning and Community Engagement, directly across from the English faculty offices. I encourage any student with an idea to come and chat with me to explore ideas for Winterims. This year, several students took a proactive approach and began creating the foundation of several current Winterim courses, a process which I encourage and support! My role is to work with them to help shape the course experience towards the OES Essential Competencies and our inquiry based education. In fact, engagement in the inquiry cycle is exactly how a student, Clara McCauley, and I worked together to create the Run Away with the Circus Winterim offered this year. She approached me early in the year with an idea for an aerial silks Winterim and we began exploring some ideas of what this course could be and its purpose. It evolved and expanded to include various circus disciplines and we ended up creating an original course topic that is now ready to be experienced and reflected upon. Personally, I love nurturing an idea from a spark into a flame, and am here to hold space for any student who wants to work towards that.

– What have been your three favorite past trips?

Wow, there have been so many incredible experiences that have been offered. This is my first year in this role, but looking at years past, I’d say my 3 favorites would be the WWII course from 2020 (had to be canceled) that was going to explore WWII from Omaha Beach to Dachau, led by the always entertaining Ron Silver. Another favorite would be the Dogsledding course because it would be so new to me and an experience that I might never get the chance to have again. Lastly, the Ocean Ecology course in the Florida Keys from 2020 would be a favorite and a homecoming trip for me since I grew up in Florida and paddled around those areas throughout high school and college.