Students and Spanish teachers prepare for Costa Rica trip

Students and teachers from last year's Spanish trip to Spain pose outside the University of Salamanca, which was built in the 13th century.

CONTRIBUTED BY MARTA FUERTES

Students and teachers from last year's Spanish trip to Spain pose outside the University of Salamanca, which was built in the 13th century.

Jackie Perelman, Arts Writing Editor

Liz Gorman opens the doors of the airport and finds herself in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, feeling the breeze and the sun, surrounded by twenty teenagers.

This year’s Spanish language trip is to the La Paz school in Guanacaste, Costa Rica and offers students a unique opportunity to experience the school and life in Costa Rica.

The La Paz school focuses on bilingual education and is attended by students in pre-school through high school.

According to World Language Curriculum Coordinator Agnes Alberola, this is the first year there is a Costa Rica trip. Previously, there have been trips to Mexico and Spain. However, during the last Mexico trip, some parents were hesitant about letting their kids go.

“I think it’s a lot about what you hear on TV. Mexico is a huge country, and I think sometimes if you hear that there’s been a huge crime in Mexico, you think it applies to everywhere {in Mexico} or something like that,” Alberola said.

Alberola explained that during the Mexico trip two years ago, the mayor in a nearby town was assassinated, which made parents nervous. However, Alberola said that an investigation was done by the world language department before the last Mexico trip to make sure it was safe.

“You go to the official site of the country and you read a variety of newspapers, you contact people from that town, you go online, you contact people that you trust that you’ve done the exchange with for a long time so a variety of ways,” Alberola said.

At the same time, there was a desire from Spanish teachers to hold a new trip, which led to the creation of the Costa Rica trip.

According to Spanish teacher Christina Tobey, during the spring of last year, retired School Within a School teacher Abby Erdman contacted Spanish teacher Liz Gorman, who had been Erdman’s student, about the La Paz school.

“{Erdman} lives part of the year in Costa Rica and she was volunteering at the school. She reached out to our school, because she thought there was potential to do an exchange,” Tobey said.

Tobey decided to be a chaperone on the trip as well because she had lived in Costa Rica and worked at the Language Institute very close to the La Paz school.

According to Alberola, Gorman visited the La Paz school this past summer, which Alberola believes is essential for a good trip.

After someone has visited the location, the trip needs to be approved, meaning it is looked over by the World Language Curriculum Coordinator, then Headmaster Anthony Meyers, and then by Town Hall.

“It might sit in Town Hall for a little bit, and we were just waiting to get called up to the school committee meeting. So we had to get that approval before we could do anything,” Tobey said.

After a trip becomes approved, an application packet is made. Admission to the Costa Rica trip was on a need blind basis, and the application consisted of several short answers.

Junior Lizzy Moy said she applied for the trip because she wanted to experience a new culture and a new country.

“I don’t get a lot of opportunities to travel and even when I do, I don’t get immersed in the culture as much, so I feel like this is a really good way to see the daily life of Costa Ricans,” Moy said.

Junior Amber Arias said she is most excited to go to the La Paz school and learn about their bilingual system of teaching in both Spanish and English.

“They speak half Spanish and half English, so that’s really interesting to me. It’s interesting to see what the effect of that is,” Arias said. “Do they think about things differently because they are more immersed in a culture?”

Arias also said she is excited that this is the first time this trip is happening because it is a novel experience.

“I feel like that’s really interesting because the first time is the most interesting part of it. No one has ever done it before, because so many people have gone to Spain and Mexico.” Arias said.

Tobey believes trips such as these are important because students are able to take what they learn out of the classroom and into the real world.

“It’s such an amazing experience and it’s so important. Learning about yourself and learning about your country, and reflecting on who you are and what you care about in the world, and learning about others and being in someone else’s shoes.” Tobey said.