This summer, Lick-Wilmerding sponsored two student trips abroad. The international trips to Spain and Senegal are lead with the goal of “equipping students with a global connection and understand- ing. [It] is an important component of graduating students who feel respon- sible for a creating a world marked by peace and equity,” according to Head of School Eric Temple.
The trip to Spain was a two and a half week excursion led by Georgiana Osipova and Rosa Zapatero, two members of the World Languages Department at LWHS. The trip was initiated in the 1980’s, when Osipova led trips with other Lick fac- ulty members.
This year, there were 25 students who stepped into the circle. The first five days were spent as a group. They explored Madrid, touring the Royal Palace, two museums, and en- joying the Spanish culture out on the street. Afterwards, they drove an hour and a half south to the historic city of Toledo, where they toured churches, synagogues, and mosques dating back to the early 14th century. On their sec- ond day in Toledo, in the mid-after- noon, they made their way to Madride- jos, a small rural town about an hour south of Toledo, to meet the family that would host each of them for the next two weeks.
Although the majority of the Lick students stayed with host fami- lies in Madridejos, four students were placed in separate towns: three stayed ten minutes way in Consuegra and one student stayed about 30 minutes away in a town called Camuñas.
Zoe Harris ’16 felt isolated in Camuñas. I spent “two weeks in Spain with la familia Yugo (her host family)… introspectively thinking about what it really means to be independent. I can not describe the hip parts of urban Spain in the slightest. I do know, however, that the most economically useful crop to grow is grapes, most American crime shows are dubbed in Span- ish, it costs two euros to go to the pool (and most people go at around seven at night), and I eat and drink much faster and much less than most Spaniards. I found a trail behind our house on which I would run every night and become better friends with myself. I spoke more Spanish, faster, more casu- ally, and with new vocabulary in each sentence. Porque no sé qué más puedo decir… ¡que aventura tuve en España este verano!”
Others, like Maddy Nakada ’16, who were in Madridejos with the rest of the students, call the experience, “difficult at first,” but she says that, “although the first three days felt like forever, the last week flew by.” For Nakada, there were a lot of cultural habits that she had to figure out while there.
“For the first few days that I was with my family I would say, “Gracias,” thank you, whenever they made dinner, gave me a towel, did my laundry, or drove me somewhere. After those first few days they began to laugh at me whenever I said it. Their laughter wasn’t malicious, it was as if they were sharing an inside joke that I wasn’t aware of. When I told the other students on my trip about this phenomenon, many of them noted that they had experienced the same thing. We realized that while here in the United States we feel the need to verbally express our gratitude for everything, in Spain that wasn’t true. Words were not needed for us to express our gratitude for everything that our host families did during the two weeks that we were part of their family.”
Ryan Kimball ’17 enjoyed “getting to know my family on a personal level. While we went on some excursions to local tourist sites, it was the daily life and interactions I had with my family that really stuck with me. Our meals were very comfortable and homey, and they treated me as a member of their family, joking with me and discussing current events. Even sitting around and watching episodes of Family Guy and The Simpsons in Spanish with my family was entertaining.”
During the homestay, students invested their time in critical thinking about the Spanish language. While some families spoke English very well, others knew almost no English. Cole Tom ’17 was with one of those families. He states that, “at first, I found it really difficult to communicate with my host brother, Rodrigo, simply because we spoke different languages and came from very different worlds. Obviously, I was there to improve my Spanish, and I wanted to be immersed, but I just found so many things to be strikingly different. That being said, as the trip progressed, I definitely found both Rodrigo and myself moving beyond our linguistic differences, and trying to relate on a different level. By the end of the trip, I found that I had not only improved my Spanish, but been able to overcome how different everything was, and just relate to Rodrigo as a friend and as my host brother.”
Osipova describes her experience as a chaperone: “I have led about 12 trips to Spanish-speaking countries with Lick students and each country experience is unique. For Spain, I love introducing the students to the Prado and Reina Sofía museums, where they must listen and understand our museum guides who only speak to them in Spanish. The fact that they had studied the art works in Lick classes and therefore had a foundation to draw upon in order to follow the expert guides is central to why I lead these trips. Picasso’s “Guernica” and Velázquez’s “Las Meninas” are visually stunning works that help our students understand historical events and masterful art. Also, in Spain, since the family stays are the central piece, and I too lived with a family, this is the most exciting interaction. While living with a Spanish family, you get to know yourself better while making lifelong friendships.”
Osipova partook in a two-month immersion trip herself when she was a high school student. Reflecting on the reason she continues to go on these trips, Osipova says, “I lead these trips because it is my hope that the Lick World Language trip will have a positive impact on each student’s world view and language experience. Hopefully this will be the first of many educational trips that foster global friendships and inquiry for each LW student and hopefully our students will be motivated to study additional languages.”
Look for an article on the Senegal trip in the Paper Tiger’s November issue!