Our Spanish Exchange Program: A Community Effort
by Aimee Hill, Spanish Teacher
Now in its second year, the Spanish Exchange Program, Programa de Intercambio in Spanish, between YIS and SEK-Atlántico in Pontevedra, Spain continues to reap tremendous educational and cultural benefits for both schools’ programs. Thirteen students from the YIS Spanish program in grades 9-11, along with their teachers Luis Castro and Aimee Hill, stayed with host families for a week enjoying everything Galicia has to offer. The participating students happily revealed that they were most impressed with their ability to communicate in Spanish and the ease with which they bonded with their Spanish peers and host families. Many were cheerfully overwhelmed by the variety of delicious food, evidenced by the conspicuous amount of Galician gastronomical delights in their luggage for the return to Japan. Some students have already planned summer visits to the area and other ways to keep in contact with their new friends.
While the exchange was initially created to provide an authentic opportunity for students to put their Spanish language skills into practice and to build relationships with native Spanish speakers, it has grown to incorporate the larger YIS community and highlight YIS’ mission, Live Learn Lead. When the SEK- Atlántico students visited YIS, students from many grade levels volunteered to lead sessions to highlight Japanese culture. Grade 10 students Hayao and Theodore led a session on calligraphy; Grade 11 student Anna demonstrated the strength and beauty of the Japanese martial art of Iaido, and Grade 10 musicians Kalea, Risa and Ayako shared their love of koto, teaching the SEK students to play the Japanese spring classic, Sakura. Several students from the YIS Spanish program also organized events after school including a trip to Don Quijote, a karaoke outing, and a scavenger hunt in the Motomachi/Yamate area. The SEK teachers and students were impressed with our students’ love of their host culture, and their ability and willingness to share their passions.
We would like to express our appreciation to everyone who made this exchange program possible. We would especially like to thank the host families who opened their homes and hearts to the SEK-Atlántico students. Our gratitude also goes to Japanese language teachers Misao Akashi, Masato Ise, Masashi Kashima, Masako Orihara, and Japanese Music Program teacher Curtis Patterson for leading field trips and guiding students in the cultural sessions. We hope the connections our community has made will serve as a base for future exchanges and relationships. ¡Hasta la vuelta!
See pictures of the exchange in YIS Photos.