Every summer, there are multiple opportunities for West Side students who are studying foreign languages to experience their chosen language and culture firsthand. Two out of the the three languages offered, French and German, have established relationships with foreign schools and implemented an exchange program there. West Side sees the French and German students throughout our school year, but what about the West Siders who embark on a similar journey in June and July?
Jessica Heslin ’14 traveled to Germany this June with a group of West Side Students and Herr Studt. She and the rest of the exchange students enjoyed the many sights and attractions Germany has to offer, as well as attended school there. They traveled through cities such as Cologne and Munich.
“I learned a lot about how different their culture is compared to ours,” said Heslin. “I enjoyed spending time with the students and their families, as well as everything else Germany had to offer.”
Jack Midkiff ’14 hosted, and was hosted by, a French student this year. He, along with other West Side French students, was able to tour the highlights of the country like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Arc de Triomphe,. They also visited the more suburban areas of the country that may not be as commercial.
“We got to see the differences between urban and suburban cultures in a new country, as well as the differences between France and the U.S,” said Midkiff.
Even though the West Lafayette Spanish program has been around for a while, there has never been an exchange program that connects Spanish-speaking students around the world to those at West Side.
Professora Barry and Senora Espinoza visited Ecuador over fall break to establish a connection with schools there to work on developing an exchange program for the future. They visited four schools, looking for a suitable place to send our students to experience life in another country.
“Some of our objectives are for [the students] to practice their language skills, experience the culture, and the school system in a Spanish-speaking country, as well as family life,” said Barry.
This summer, some of the teachers will come to our school to evaluate our school, much like Profe Barry and Sra. Espinoza did in June. They hope that the exchanges will happen sometime during the 2014-15 school year.
Anyone considering traveling to a new country as part of an exchange program should understand what they are getting themselves into, but also consider what they might be missing out on if they choose not to go. There are many unique experiences that can only happen on trips such as these, and taking advantage of an opportunity like the ones offered at West Side can only improve a person’s educational experience.