Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Overview of Exchange

Bedford High School school students from Bedford, New Hampshire recently spent two weeks in Valladolid and Núñez de Arce High School participating in a sister school exchange with their Spanish host students and families.  This is the second part of the exchange, the first being the visit of the Spanish students to New Hampshire in the fall of 2104.  After getting to know their Spanish student in the United States first, it was much easier for the American students to feel comfortable traveling to Spain and to stay with the Spanish host family.  Many of the students embraced as soon as their saw their host student after such a long time apart.  These students had quickly become friends in the fall and it was easy to see the bonds that they had created.  

During the ten day visit to Valladolid, the students felt like they barely slept since they had so much to see and do during the school day and that level of activity did not slow down when they went home with their families.  Students went on a walking tour of the city, saw inside the Casa Consistorial, visited the Oriental and Sculpture Museums, a look inside the Casa de Zorrilla, a full day excursion to Salamanca and more.  On the day off and the weekend, the host families brought the students on various local excursions including Toledo, Segovia and Burgos.    

In Madrid, the students continued their rapid pace of sightseeing which included a three hour walking tour of the city, a Real Madrid vs Almería game, a tour of Bernabeu Stadium, a visit to the Prado, a flamenco class and the favorite of the students, a cooking class where they learned to make tortilla de patata.  The students enjoyed being able to walk through the city and especially liked all of the shopping opportunities.  We took some time to sample churros con chocolate as well.    

Some of the students who participated in the exchange had glowing remarks about their time in Valladolid and in Madrid.  One of their favorite part of the exchange were the extremely caring and generous families who made them feel at home immediately.  All of the students wanted to make the most of the experience by trying new foods, practicing their Spanish as much as possible and forming strong friendships with their host students.  They students had some comments about their exchange:     

The exchange was awesome in more ways than I could have ever anticipated. I don't think I will ever forget about my Spanish host family. I learned things from this trip not just about language, but about the meaning of human,” said Mike Brown about participating in the exchange.

For me the exchange was all I could have asked for and more. Because we already knew the students it was easy to jump right in and there was no awkward time in the beginning. I feel as though I have made friends for life and can't wait to visit them in the future. Although Spanish was hard sometimes I learned how to work through it and it bettered my Spanish and helped me grow as a person too. This was definitely the best experience of my life!” commented Hannah Clarke.

“Best experience of my life (so far). Unforgettable,” said Zack Graham about his experience.

Weekends with families

After spending one more day in classes and a short visit to the Casa Zorrilla, the students are ready for a fun and relaxing weekend with their host families. Many of the families have plans to bring their American student on an excursion in the nearby vicinity.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Classes and excursions

Starting on Monday our students spent time in classes with their host students. They followed their host student's schedule and attended whatever classes there host students had including history, English, math, science, etc.  in the afternoon we took a tour of the city including the University in church is around the town center. We also were able to go to the Town Hall where they explained the differences in government and showed us the rooms were they made all of the decisions.

On Wednesday we had a whole day excursion to Salamanca where we were guided through the various sites of the city including the very famous University and Cathedral. Our students were able to buy cookies from cloistered nuns.

Thursday is a regional holiday and there's no school. Many of the host families are taking students to local towns to visit the sites places such as Segovia Medina de Campo, Burgos, etc. 

After a couple of days in Spain our students are doing a wonderful job learning Spanish trying new foods and spending time with your families. Most of them have headaches from all of the Spanish that they're speaking in their homes and at school.

Heading to Spain

We met our group of 17 wonderful student in Logan airport at 2:30 pm for a 5:30 pm flight and they were all ready to get going and head to Spain. We had a quick 6+ hour flight, but most of the students were unable to sleep, partly because of the excitement and partly because it wasn't that late yet.

After arriving in Madrid we took a 2.5 hour bus ride to Valladolid where the families we waiting for us outside of the school. Our students were both nervous to meet the new host or reunite with the student they had hosted in the fall. After lots of hugs, they all headed to their homes with the Spanish families. Many parents prepared delicious lunches (the main meal of the day) for their students such as paella, cocido or tortilla de patata as a special welcome for the students.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Spanish Students at BHS-Our First Visit!

Mt. Kearsarge Hike

In September we accepted our first group of 28 (!) Spanish students at Bedfrod High School.  They stayed with our host families, went on excursions and attended classes for two weeks.  After visiting us, they spend some time in New York City.  

The whole group at the BHS courtyard
The teachers in Boston with the students

Laying the Groundwork

In front of the school building in Valladolid, Spain
In the summer of 2014 we started the exchange by visiting then school in Valladolid, Spain.  IES Núñez de Arce is set in a medium sized city outside of Madrid, Spain.

The students can walk to school or take public transportation.  There are many things to do and see in the city.  It is rich culturally and historically.  Also, the city is in a great location, there are a variety of weekend and day trips from Valladolid.

One of the courtyards at the school

The main square in the city

Después de muchos años de trabajo en búsqueda de un colegio que nos cae bien (mis clases han comunicado con varios colegios) y un año de trabajo intensivo en cartas entre los alumnos, vídeos producidos por los alumnos que muestran la escuela y la ciudad, cajas de regalos y otras formas de comunicación en línea, ya he podido realizar una conexión con un instituto en Valladolid, España.
IES Núnez de Arce es el instituo ideal para intercambiar con mi escuela en Bedford, NH.  Lo más importante es que los profesoras (Pilar y Pilar) de este instituo hayan sido tan enfocadas en empezar el intercambio con nosotros, por lo cual, ellos vienen a visitarnos y tendrán estancias familias con los mismos alumnos que irán a España en la primavera.  Traen treinta estudiantes para ver todo lo que esta región tiene que ofrecerles.  Esperamos crear una relación recíproca entre los alumnos americanos y españoles y sus familias para crear algo mejor que una visita cultural.

Este plan ha sido mi sueño por más de diez años y ahora para ver que se convierte en realidad es demasiado.  Fui el fin de semana pasada para conocer a las profesoras, el director, la ciudad y la escuela antes de traer a los alumnos.  Son gente estupenda y pasamos muy bien aunque no hubo ninguna lengua en común entre los participantes.  No importa cuando se esfuerce, siempre hay una manera de expresarse y divertirse con gente.  Gracias al trabajo de todos los dedicados a crear esta relación, especialmente a Bob Jozokos, el subdirector de mi colegio, quien ha hecho mucho en el colegio para apoyarla.  

Walking around town
Statue of Miguel Cervantes
Main cathedral
A university in the city

The school