Alex Bhak Experiential Learning Symposium in the Humanities

About Alex Bhak

Alex attended CGPS from 2011 - 2015. He was a vibrant and curious young man who was loved by his peers and teachers at Columbia Prep. He was particularly invested in the exploration of the humanities. He immersed himself in our most rigorous history, world languages, and English classes, expressed himself in art and poetry and led the school’s philosophy club. Alex brought joy to our community and demonstrated civic, social, and cultural engagement. Alex’s passion and unique spirit inspired his peers and teachers alike - and has inspired this scholarship in his memory.

program Overview 

The Alex Bhak Experiential Learning Symposium in the Humanities was established in the Fall of 2021, with the symposium for the inaugural class of Scholars in the Spring of 2022.  The Symposium’s mission is to empower Columbia Prep students to explore their world and to encourage their sense of wonder through an exploration of the humanities.

All current 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students are welcome to apply to participate in the Symposium. Students submit proposals for experiential learning projects inspired by content taught in a Columbia Prep course in the following subjects: Art, English, History, Music, Theater and Dance, and/or World Languages.  

The experiential learning activities may take the form of domestic travel, attendance at performances, visits to exhibits or museums, tuition for a seminar, class, or other educational experience, or any combination thereof. The experience must include an element of civic, social, and/or cultural engagement.

The Symposium supports interdisciplinary approaches to the learning experience. For example, in the inaugural class, one Scholar’s project combined documentary film making, political engagement, and history, Sovereign. A second Scholar combined family history/memoir and filmmaking The US Army Through the Voices of 2 Generations,

Selected applicants are granted funds to support a real-world learning experience during spring break, based on their proposal.

Following the real-world learning experience, the Scholars deliver a brief presentation at a symposium that highlights the experience, articulates the connection between that real-world experience and the Columbia Prep course content that inspired it, and reflect on what they learned and what new questions they have as a result of this experience. The symposium takes place in April of each year. Students, family members, teachers, and other Columbia Prep community members are invited to attend.

Columbia Prep is proud to host the Alex Bhak Experiential Learning Symposium in the Humanities in Alex’s honor (CGPS ‘15). 

The Symposium is funded with support by the Alex Nair Bhak Foundation.

By Walt Whitman

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

As an Alex Bhak Scholar, I had an incredible experience. Not only was I able to take my love of Latin to a project outside the classroom, but I also made connections with people from all walks of life during my experimental learning over spring break.

HARRY  GOLDBERG, Class of 2023


Alex Bhak Scholars 2022

Lara Berliner’23 - Inspired by Ms. Lynn Schulte, The Art of Film and Video, and Mr. Heather Denbow, AP US History.

Harry Golderberg ’23 - Inspired by Mr. Leon Grek, Ms. Dorothy Meyer, and Mr. Marvin Terban, Latin I-IV.

Chloe Luterman ’23 - Inspired by Mr. Andrew Stole, Photography.

Raihana Rahman ’22 - Inspired by Mr. David Warshawaki, Narrative Journalism.

Victoria Robbins ’23 - Inspired by Mr. Karsten Gogolin and Ms. Sara Moldolsfy, AP Psychology, Neuroscience, and Public Health.

Jason Winthrop ’23 - Inspired by Mr. Karsten Gogolin and Mr. Thomas Nelson, The War on Terror and Global History.

Lara Berliner, Class of 2023

A Documentary Project, Sovereign

Inspired by her AP US History and her Art of Film and Video courses, Lara Berliner embarked on a trip to the Blackfoot Indian Reservation in Browning, Wyoming. There she produced a short film, Sovereign, on the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women. She framed the project within the historical and constitutional framework that embeds the idea of Native American “sovereignty.” Not only did she share a short excerpt of this film, with much acclaim, at the school’s spring symposium, but her film was also accepted into the All-American High School Film Festival to be screened in AMC Theatre in Times Square and Kings Theatre in Brooklyn. 

Raihana Rahman, Class of 2022

A Documentary Project, Accessibility and Public Transportation

Inspired by her Narrative Journalism course, Raihana Rahman traveled to San Francisco to investigate how the city handles accessible public transportation. She interviewed city officials and transit users to ascertain how effectively San Francisco provides services to disabled riders. She compared San Francisco's transit system with New York City's and proposed policy changes that would make New York City's transit system more accessible. 

Jackson Winthrop, Class of 2023

A Memoir Project,  The US Army Through the Voices of Two Generations

Inspired by his Global History and War on Terror course, Jackson Winthrop interviewed his great uncle and cousin about their experiences in the Korean War and the War in Iraq respectively. This project focused on the importance of family histories and memoirs. He focused on the Jewish experience in the US Armed Forces at two critical junctures in United States History, the Cold War, and the post-9/11 global order.