Wayland students welcome the arrival of Spanish exchange students

Sammy Keating

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Above, seniors Maddie Conroy, Sarah Mitty, and junior Julia Chinman visit Betanzos, Galicia, Spain. These students, and others who traveled to Spain, are now hosting students from IES Francisco Aguiar in Wayland. "[My host sister] is really enthusiastic and into sharing cultures, and that’s the great part about an exchange trip because you can explore each other’s worlds," said Sammy Karle, another senior participating in the exchange.

The opportunity to experience a new culture is something that most WHS students jump at the chance for. Whether it’s visiting another country or hosting a foreign exchange student, many students are always eager to learn about different cultures.

Last February, students in the WHS Spanish program continued the 40-year tradition by traveling to Betanzos, Galicia, Spain to participate in an exchange program. On Sunday, September 8, these students opened their homes to the 23 students of IES Francisco Aguiar, the school that they had visited.

Due to the schedule change, last year’s seniors who went on the Spanish trip in February are not able to house their host brothers and sisters. However, many other Wayland families have volunteered to house those exchange students.

The Spanish exchange students will be spending two weeks in Wayland. However, they will also visit large cities like Boston and New York City as part of their trip. For many of these students, this is their first time in America.

“We have four field trips planned for them,” said Mary Brown, language department head and Spanish teacher. “They’re going to go to MIT and Harvard Square one day. They’re going to go to Salem. They’ll go to the Aquarium and on a whale watch, and they’ll see the Constitution and the Freedom Trail.”

Brown wants the students to not only bond with their host brothers and sisters in school, but also to attend extracurricular activities after school.

“We would like them to go to the football games and sports practices of their host families,” Brown said.

A major difference in the exchange program this year is the time difference between the two exchange trips. Usually, the two trips occur within the same academic year. However, due to the current economic crisis in Spain, the teachers of IES Francisco Aguiar decided it would be best for their students to come in September.

Senior Sammy Karle took part in the exchange trip last year as a junior. She and her twin brother Alex will be housing the two students they stayed with in Spain. For Sammy, one of the biggest differences between the two countries is the overall atmosphere.

“[Everyone in Spain] was very friendly to me,” Sammy said. “Life moves a little slower there; everyone is calm, and it is more relaxed there than it is here in America.”

Sammy is excited to bring her host sister, Laura Antón Brañas, to America for the first time and share American culture with her.

“She’s really enthusiastic and into sharing cultures, and that’s the great part about an exchange trip because you can explore each other’s worlds,” Sammy said.