Spaniards Visit Jericho High School
By LAUREN DOLOWICH, MATTHEW KRAVITZ and CINDY PARK
The Spanish students learned about life here in Jericho and made meaningful and lasting relationships with their host families. Spaniard Raquel San Martin said, “All families for most part were so good to us.”
The Spaniards view schools in America as very different from those in Spain. Spaniard Laura Rey said that in America, students can eat in class, use their phones, go to the bathroom without asking for permission, and can sit wherever they want in the classroom. In Spain, they do not have any of these privileges. Students sit in the same classroom all day with different teachers coming in to the classroom at certain periods.
The Spaniards agreed that Jericho High School was equivalent to the high school in the American television film “High School Musical.” Raquel San Martin said, “This [Jericho High School] is like the movies because I never saw lockers in any part of my country or city. In our school, we don’t have cafeteria. We have a dining room for people who want to have lunch at school instead of going home.” The Spanish also have a smaller theater compared to Jericho High School’s auditorium.
One difficulty the exchange students experienced was adjusting to the pace of life in New York. The Spaniards said that Americans do things fast, such as eating meals quickly. Another difference in culture is that in Spain, people are very affectionate, giving two kisses and hugs when they see people.During their last week in New York, the Spaniards ventured into New York City. They not only saw the musical “Wicked,” but they also witnessed snow fall from the Empire State Building.
The Spanish exchange program was established by Señora Alonso, a Spanish teacher in the Jericho High School. Alonso proposed the idea to her cousin, who is an English teacher in Spain. Her cousin also had the desire to start an exchange program but claimed that she did not have any connections in the states. They collaborated and thus the program was created.
Students who excel in the Spanish language are chosen to participate in this program. Señora Alonso said, “First of all you have to be in at least Spanish III and have to have a GPA of at least an A in the language.” However, they have taken students who have not had straight A’s if they demonstrated tremendous interest in language.Alonso believes that the best aspect of the exchange program is the students’ total immersion into the culture. “You are living with a family and the activities that are done are very unique. We have a pilgrimage during which they backpack for three days, so they get to be immersed and interact with all of the students of the school, not just the program,” said Senora Alonso. These opportunities give students the chance to practice the language that they would never be able to do in a classroom.
Señora Alonso loves the experiences that she is able to share with the Jericho students. “In essence, they [the students] become like my family,” she said.
Unfortunately, the Spaniards had to leave New York after two short weeks. Over March break, the host students from Jericho High School will be staying with their Spaniard’s family in Spain.