Spanish Spring Breakers Reply

On April fifth, 12 students from the sophomore Spanish classes took a trip to Spain. Being the first BSGE trip to Spain, the planning of the trip was a lot of work for teachers, students, and parents alike. The class, led by Mr. Giraldo, had planned for this trip since October of 2011. With the help of Ms. Johnson, Mr. Giraldo was able to get in contact with a few travel agencies and tour companies in Spain, and was able to put together a schedule for each day that they stayed. Having to get up as early as 5:30 A.M., the students had a busy schedule, having to leave the hotels in time for the tour buses and “a lot of program activities all day,” according to Mr. Giraldo. The goal of the trip was “for the students to be able to use the [Spanish] language in real life situations,” according to Mr. Giraldo. Ordering at restaurants and shopping were two types of events during which the students could utilize their learning of the Spanish language.
Though planning took a long time, it was fairly easy for Mr. Giraldo to contact the parents because he “had a good relationship with them” and, knowing most of them, he was able to talk to them easily and answer their questions via email. Isabella Hernandez ‘14 described her parents’ reaction to the opportunity to go to Spain. “They said, ‘You need to go because this is something you’ve never done.’” The parents were generally accepting of the trip, despite the cost of it. The price, which wasn’t too high considering the many places the students were going to, was reasonable, says Hernandez, because “you’re going with your peers and so it won’t be uncomfortable, and at least you have people you can talk to.” In addition, the price was lowered due to the numerous bake sales held by the Spanish class in order to cover for some of the cost, and to make the price per student lower than what it would’ve been without the help of the bake sales and the school.
The twelve students, Mr. Giraldo, and the two chaperones – Chemistry teacher Ms. Mihalache, and English teacher Ms. Kumar – spent two days in Madrid, the capital of Spain. There, they visited the Museo del Prado, an art museum exhibiting artists like Velázquez and Francisco de Goya. According to Mr. Giraldo, his “tenth grade students were familiar with the art since they studied it in Spanish class and also in the art class.” The next destination was Toledo, Spain, which Mr. Giraldo described as a “very romantic city,” much different than the cosmopolitan life of Madrid.
Their trip to the next city, Seville, was a five hour drive. Due to the fact that their traveling to Seville was on Easter Sunday, there was a lot of celebration in the streets. On their way, they stopped in Cordova and visited other sightseeing places. Other cities they visited include Granada and Costa del Sol, where the hotel had a big swimming pool and was close to the beach. This, says Mr. Giraldo was Ms. Kumar’s “favorite place to go because she enjoyed the water.” The enjoyment is understandable as, he continues, “the weather was warmer than the average temperatures of the previous cities they went to,” providing the students warm weather to swim and hang out at the beach.
One hour away was the city of Malaga, where Pablo Picasso was born. When Mr. Giraldo went to visit the house where Picasso was born, “unfortunately, we had to split and some kids chose to stay at the beach with Ms. Kumar, while Milena [Mihalache] and I took others to go shopping and sightseeing at the Malaga town.”
The final trip was to Morocco, which was described by Mr. Giraldo as “one of the most exciting trips that I ever took in my life.” There, they rode camels which, says Kevin Likhtshteyn ‘14, was one of the things he was most looking forward to during this trip. Isabella Hernandez ‘14, who had never left the U.S. before, was also excited about the camels prior to the trip. She enjoyed the fact that she was going to go with people she knew, and prepared by “practicing Spanish more,” practicing with her dad and trying not to speak in English during Spanish class. Mr. Giraldo further prepared the class by, as mentioned before, teaching them about the Spanish culture and art that they would be experiencing – such as the dances and food – as well as providing easy guidelines as to what to pack for the trip.
Upon coming back from Spain, the students had some new experiences gained from the trip. One student Alejandro Loarte ‘14, whose favorite place to visit was Toledo, said he “learned more about [Spain’s] customs and culture” while in Spain. He also added that knowledge that he gained on the trip that wasn’t taught to him in class was the history of certain castles and “palaces located in Cordova and in Madrid.” Alejandro said, “I would probably go back to travel to Northern Spain.” Similar to Alejandro, Ritika Karnik ‘14 enjoyed the architecture of Spain and added that her favorite aspect of the trip was “learning how to order ice cream.” It seems as though the trip to Spain was enjoyable for everyone who went but, when asked if he would plan another trip, Mr. Giraldo said he needed time to settle in from this Spain trip and he “doesn’t think [he’ll] plan another Spain trip next year or the next” because of the amount of work and planning that had to be put in for this trip. However, that doesn’t hinder the students’ desire to go back to Spain and visit on their own.

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