YIS Students de Vuelta por Pontevedraby Aimee Hill, Spanish teacher
Last week, ten students from YIS took part in the inaugural Spanish Exchange Program between YIS and SEK, Atlántico, in Spain's northwestern autonomous region of Galicia. Students from YIS lived with host families, attended classes at SEK, and participated in several cultural activities and tours. YIS Spanish teachers, Luis Castro and Aimee Hill, established this program with the goal of providing an authentic opportunity for our students to put into practice their Spanish language skills and to build relationships with native Spanish speakers.
During their time in Galicia, students visited Poio where they were greeted by the mayor of Poio and his daughter, who coincidentally is a Japanese language teacher. Students toured the famous Poio Monastery with an 80-meter long mosaic of the Camino de Santiago, and learned about the traditional Galician food storage buildings called hórreos. Students also visited the traditional fishing village of Combarro while SEK students explained a little about the richness of the regional seafood. A visit to the UNESCO heritage city of Santiago with its famous cathedral was highlighted by a delicious lunch of the local speciality pulpo á feira, octopus. Additionally, students took part in a treasure hunt organized by their teachers where they interacted with locals in Spanish to complete various tasks in the historic, pedestrian city of Pontevedra. The students and teachers of SEK, as well as our own students, have been impressed with the level and development of our students' Spanish skills. With all of the tours and activities having been conducted in Spanish, the confidence of our students grew exponentially as they built strong relationships with their Spanish peers and host families.
Fourteen students from SEK, Atlántico will be visiting YIS this week, providing us the opportunity to demonstrate our YIS hospitality and share with them the treasures of Japan. Our wonderful Modern Language Team Leader, Misao Akashi, will be leading a Japanese lesson, and Joseph Amato, Director of the ICJC, has organized Japanese cooking lessons, calligraphy and a cultural tour of Yokohama.
We would like to express our appreciation to communities of SEK, Atlántico and YIS for making this exchange program possible. The administration at YIS has allowed our students the opportunity to widen their language skills and cultural understanding, and the families at SEK, Atlántico and at YIS have opened their homes and hearts to the exchange students. Our hope is that this exchange will lead to a longstanding relationship between our two schools and that we will be able to continue to provide this unique learning opportunity to our students for years to come.