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Schools runs international exchanges, service trips

Each year, students at this school have the opportunity to host and be hosted by students from China, France, Italy and either Mexico or Spain. In addition, there is an annual service trip to Nicaragua.
Students can attend classes in in these countries for several weeks or–in Nicaragua–do community service.
Students who wish to participate in any of these trips must be in good academic standing. For students who need financial assistance, this school system’s Global Education Leadership Fund (GELF) may be able to offer some help.

Chinese Exchange

by Amanda Hills
For over 30 years, this school and South have participated in an exchange with the Beijing Jingshan School in China.
Families host the visiting students “in order to fully experience life in the other country as well as participate in cultural activities,” according to the exchange director Michael Kozuch. For example, he said, students might visit the Great Wall while in China or Plymouth Plantation while in the United States.
In addition to touring the countries, the students go to class in their exchange country. One of the major benefits of coupling cultural exposure with academic experience abroad is the “improved ability to communicate in the other language,” according to Kozuch. “After four months of immersion, language proficiently will improve.”
Chinese participant Zhang Danning supported that claim, saying that the exchange “can improve my English levels and help me to know more about the academic institutions and the cultures here.”
Kozuch said that the most consistent reaction he has heard from students is that it is a “life changing, once in a lifetime opportunity.
“It is rare that high school students have the opportunity to participate in this kind of exchange. Even in college, many programs do not offer to stay in a host family.”
He added that it is worthwhile to stay with a family because “often, life long bonds are established.”
Interested students should be proficient in Chinese and should show “a strong sense of adventure and a willingness to engage and learn from another culture,” Kozuch said.

French Exchange

by Elena Schwartz
For more than 36 years, French students at this school have traveled to and hosted students from France. This year’s exchange will include about 20 students from this school who will arrive in Paris Friday, Feb. 1 and will return Saturday, March 2. French teachers Fiona Blyth and Margot Murphy will chaperone the trip.
While in France, students will attend the school Lyceé Masillon and stay with local families. They will also participate in cultural excursions, including visits to the Louvre, Versailles and a two-day trip to Normandy, according to Blyth.
Blythe described the French exchange as “a life-changing experience” and highly recommends it to all French students in good academic standing. “The opportunity during high school to live for a month in another culture is very unique. It opens new horizons,” she said.
Although the application deadline has passed. However, students are still eligible to host the French students who will visit this school for three weeks in April.

Italian Exchange

by Amanda Hills
Each February, sophomore, junior and senior Italian students at this school have the opportunity to travel to Florence, Italy for a month. This trip has been occurring for over 30 years.
Participants stay with host families and while attend classes at the school Liceo Scientifico Antonio Gramsci. They will visit historical sites as well, including the Roman Forum, the Vatican, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Academia, the Uffizi Museum and the Doge Palace, according to Italian teacher Maria Procopio-Demas, who will chaperone this year’s trip.
“The trip impacts the way students think, the way they see themselves and the way they see the rest of the world,” Procopio-Demas said.
Although applications for this year’s trip are no longer being accepted, students can still volunteer to host the Italian students when they arrive here in the fall.

Nicaragua Trip

by Elena Schwartz
Juniors and seniors at this school have a chance to travel to Nicaragua to do community service from Friday, March 29 to Friday, April 12. French teacher Fiona Blyth and medical personnel Madhu Wahi will chaperone this year’s trip.
For ten years, this school has organized this community service trip. Ten to 12 students will be able to participate this year. Blyth said that participants do not need to have taken Spanish, but should be willing to learn.
Students will stay with families in San Juan del Sur. In the mornings, they will help repair schools in rural areas, and in the evenings, they will attend a Spanish language school run by local women in order to improve their Spanish skills. Saturdays, participants will teach English to local children.
“Every day is a new experience that teaches you something. You get to see the world from a different perspective,” said Blyth.
“You learn to appreciate everything you normally take for granted. Students see how they can be happy with fewer material goods, and that friendship and family are the most important things.”

Spanish Exchange

by Hilary Brumberg
Students in Spanish classes will have the opportunity to travel to Mexico for three weeks come February, according to Spanish teacher Chris Wood, who is leading the trip with Italian teacher Emilio Mazzola.
During the first week of the trip, participants will sightsee in Mexico City and in Querétaro. They will then spend two weeks living with a Mexican host family in Guanajuato, attending the local high school La Escuela del Nivel Medio Superior del Guanajuato and going on excursions.
According to Wood, central Mexico, where the trip takes place, is “very safe because there are no travel advisories there now.”
For three weeks in late March, students from this school will hosts Mexican students. While they are here, the visiting group will attend this school, sightsee in Boston, travel to New York City and spend time will host families.
Wood emphasized the many benefits to participating in the Spanish exchange. “In an authentic environment, students will learn the Spanish language of everyday life,” he said. “The trip gives students an insight into the culture of an important neighboring country with which we share so much history and frontier.”
The deadline for applications is Monday, Wood said.
Last weekend, principal Jennifer Price visited La Escuela del Nivel Medio Superior del Guanajuato.
In a letter to this school’s students and families after the trip, Price wrote, “It is amazing to me that my perceptions of Mexico could change in such a short time. Guanajuato is a special city, and I truly hope to return some day with my own children.
“Newton North is so lucky to have similar exchange programs in China, France, Spain and Italy, and why we support GELF so all students can take advantage of the trips.  Our world is getting smaller, and the more we all explore it, the more we all realize that we share the same hopes and dreams for the next generation of global citizens.”

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