Spanish Exchange Departs After Four Weeks
by The Milton Measure on Friday, October 5th, 2012
After spending the past four weeks in the United States with their host families, fourteen exchange students and two chaperones from Milton’s sister school in Madrid, El Pilar, left for Spain. Their departure marks the end of Milton’s 2012 Spanish Exchange.
Each year, fourteen Milton students and fourteen Spaniards participate in the Spanish Exchange, spending the entire month of June in Madrid and the month of September in Milton. The program has been in existence for 33 years, ten of which have been with El Pilar.
Tracy Crews, a member of Milton’s Spanish department, has been the program coordinator for the Spanish Exchange for the past seven years. In addition to her prominent role in exchanges, she has taught both French and Spanish at Milton. She was accompanied by Sr. Hamel, Sra. Thorpe and Sr. Connolly. The program coordinator from El Pilar, Elena Pañuela, chaperoned the group of fourteen Spaniards alongside fellow teacher Pablo Baste-Rrechea.
Sophomores and juniors who have reached a sufficient level of proficiency in Spanish at Milton can participate in the Exchange but must submit an application by the 15th of November. After reading through each application multiple times, the Spanish department chose seven sophomores and seven juniors, who then host their Spanish counterparts as juniors and seniors in the fall.
During their time in Spain, the group of Americans spent three weeks attending classes and traveling throughout the country and one week exclusively with their host families. Their travels included sites near Madrid such as Segovia, Toledo, Córdoba, El Escorial, the Royal Palace, and El Prado.
Nora Kohli (II), a varsity soccer player at Milton, mentioned that she “particularly enjoyed watching Spain beat Portugal in [the] Eurocup… by the end of it [she] felt Spanish.” Her experiences echoes the enthusiasm many other Milton students felt by bonding over fútbol.
Sra. Crews indicated as well that the success of this year’s exchange was fueled in part by the “cooperative” nature of the group and the fact that they “were really open to the experience.”
Following a similar plan to that of Milton students in Spain, the Spaniards spent their first week in United States with their host families. The Spanish students traveled with their host families to places nearby like New York City, Maine, and Connecticut. During their remaining three weeks at Milton, the Spanish group attended classes with their counterparts and toured Boston. Some of their excursions included whale-watching, visiting the Museum of Science, and walking the Freedom Trail.
When asked about her favorite things to do at Milton, Gabriela Sanchez, one of the Spaniards, responded, “I love the school and the days we spend at school… the students were friendly to us.”
Another one of the Spanish students, Rodrigo Diaz, said that “[his] favorite excursion was Harvard.”
Both Spaniards mentioned that it was their host families who made their stays special.
Elena Pañuela said that her favorite part of the exchange “was the relationship that [students] build with you and the great memories forever.” Tracy Crews built on this thought by stating, “It’s an experience that will change your life.” Her sentiments were echoed by adults from both sides of the program.
Sr. Hamel from Milton’s Spanish department, a key component of the exchange for seven of the past nine years, indicated that although “the program is a sacrifice for teachers’ family life, it is a formative and life-changing experience for everybody.”
Nevertheless, after four weeks, Milton said a tearful goodbye to their Spanish counterparts on the 27th of September.
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