Recent News from Matignon High School

Another Exciting Spanish Exchange Trip!

April 10, 2017

During the last week of March, sixteen enthusiastic MHS students of Spanish, from levels 1-4, lived a week of linguistic and cultural exchange in Cadiz, Spain.  Students reunited with friends from our partner high school in Cadiz with whom they have become acquainted over the past year. Accompanied by Spanish teachers Stephanie Salim and Sarah Hewitt on this 7th exchange, their experiences created memories to last a lifetime.

With arrival in Jerez de la Frontera and a short bus trip to Cadiz, students began an exciting week. After a short visit to our partner school, we were off on a site-sightseeing bus tour that gave us an overview of this 3 millennia old city dating back to Phoenician times. The weekend was spent with host families and by the time Monday arrived, our group reunited to spend the morning at our partner school to participate in bilingual interviews with younger students in the English bilingual program.  These students were very eager to practice recently learned English skills in interviews with the “Americanos”!  Monday afternoon offered a professionally guided tour of the city where we earned more about the history of the city, revealing aspects of Roman times during a visit to the recently restored Roman Theater. Following upon tradition, our group, including the host families and school personnel, was invited to a welcome ceremony at the very elegant and historic city hall which dates back to the 1700’s.

Tuesday provided a more complete view of the city with visits to a recently opened high-tech exhibition of the city in Phoenician times (only 3000 years ago!), a flamenco dance lesson and sampling of the famous chocolate and churros. Travelling through the city students had the opportunity to hear, see and use the Spanish language as they absorb the vibes of a charming provincial capital.

The rest of the week included full day excursions to Italica, an abandoned Roman city with the remains of the largest amphitheater outside of Italy, Seville with its enormous gothic cathedral, beautiful Alcazar palace, expansive and picturesque Maria Luisa Park, Cordoba to view the remains of the golden era of the 10th century as revealed in the Mezquita (mosque, now sanctified as a cathedral) and the old Jewish Quarter.

In El Puerto de Santa Maria, a small town across the bay from Cadiz, students learned much about the town’s important connection to Christopher Columbus as they visited the Castle of San Marcos, one of the favorite stops during the week. In the plaza de toros (bullring) they tried to imagine the particular enthusiasm for an age old tradition. One of the highlights of the week is the visit to the mercado (market) in Cadiz and shopping for food to donate to la “Fundación de la Virgen de Valvaluz”, a local Catholic food kitchen and charity to help the less fortunate. We are always given a warm welcome with a talk about the mission of this organization founded many years ago and we learn how it serves those in need today. The students come to understand the importance of demonstrating solidarity with any community they visit.

It is a week rich in experience, fun, new connections and new understandings while building enthusiasm for gaining new language skills and cultural understandings. The benefits seem to continue as students and families stay “connected” all after the trip has finished.

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