Two weeks ago ten Archbishop Williams students traveled abroad to Spain as part of the AWHS Student Exchange Program. This week they returned the favor as a group of 11 Spanish students stayed with and participated in the AWHS community as they toured Boston in the second leg of the Exchange Program. In both countries students stayed with students of similar ages to assimilate to the native culture.
AWHS Spanish teacher Joanne Adams started the school's Spanish Exchange Program two years ago. That summer she attended a masters level class at a university in Madrid and befriended the program director. Through him she was put in contact with our now sister school--San Jose de Cluny de Pozuelo (Madrid). When Mrs. Adams met the school's Director of English Studies, Senior Alfonzo Martin, the exchange program came to life.
"This is not like those commercial programs where students stay in hotels and dine in restaurants," explained Mrs. Adams. "In both countries the visiting students experience authentic culture including living in family homes and eating authentic cuisine. This way they can really practice the language."
"It's been our students' dream to come to America," added Sr. Martin. "The parents want their children to learn English and this is an authentic opportunity for them to practice the language conversationally and grammatically."
"It's been a good experience to see that American culture is not as it's portrayed in American movies," observed Spanish student Cristina Centenera. "They are normal people with normal families. They actually remind me of my family."
While in Spain, AWHS students visited the beautiful cities of Madrid, Avila and Segovia. They also toured a bull ring (Corrida de Torros) and the Royal Palace (Palacio Royal). This week, the Spanish students visited Quincy Market and Harvard University, participated in local activities such as a Duck Boat tour and whale watching, and made a day trip to New York.
"It is so satisfying to see how close the students become with their host families." said Mrs. Adams. "They have made new friends. They have transformed their attitudes about a culture they have 'studied' but never truly understood. The immediate positive impact on the AWHS students' Spanish proficiency has been noticeable."
"If you really want to learn a language then you should live where it's spoken," said junior Courtney Burke '14 of Milton who participated in the Exchange Program for the first time. "When you can't use your first language, it forces you to use and improve a second language."
The Spanish students hail from the Colegio San Jose de Cluny in Madrid - http://www.cluny-es.com/colegiopozuelo/