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The School Newspaper of Flint Hill School

The View

Huskies welcome Gallo-Iberian students to our school

By Patrick Lovelace and Tyson Zhang

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Earlier this month, Flint Hill welcomed several international visitors into the community. Arriving on March 28, the visitors included students from Lycée Rocroy Saint-Vincent de Paul, a school in Paris, and the Institut Josep Vallerdú in Catalonia, a region of northeastern Spain.

This trip was part of a larger exchange program that has become a Flint Hill tradition in recent years. IJV, the Spanish school, sent exchange students to Flint Hill in autumn of 2015, and Lycée Rocroy Saint-Vincent de Paul sent students last spring. In addition, Flint Hill Spanish students visited IJV in January of this year and and stayed with host families while going to school and sightseeing in the surrounding areas. Students studying French visited the Lycée Rocroy Saint-Vincent de Paul in Paris over spring break, as well.

The Spanish group spent four days in New York City prior to arriving in the D.C. area, and visited many touristic sites, including the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge. Albert Capdevila, a Spanish student, found the time spent in New York his favorite part of the experience.

“I really liked New York,” he said. “The skyscrapers were very cool.”

With both French and Spanish students attending regular classes at Flint Hill, the first week proved to be very hectic. Several students shared their positive impressions of the school: they really liked the art installations, they thought the building was very attractive, and that there were many more facilities and fields for sports here than at their own schools.

On top of school activities, both groups also spent time exploring the D.C. area. They visited iconic landmarks such as the Capitol building, the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, the Supreme Court, and various museums. In addition to destinations in the city, students also took excursions to other sites, including Mount Vernon and Great Falls in Virginia.

Although the excursions were interesting, a key component of the trip was interacting with host families from Flint Hill. Because of the recent trips that Flint Hill students took to Spain and France, the majority of the students had already gotten to know their hosts and were excited to see them again.

“After meeting Alena [Arbós] and her family and experiencing life in Les Borges Blanques, I was excited to show Alena my family and way of life. I was surprised [to see] where our cultures separated and intersected, and also [enjoyed] seeing America through a foreigner’s eyes… It was different for both me and Alena, and I think it made us even closer than before,” says Jayna Patel, a senior who went to Spain in January and hosted Arbós, one of the Spanish students, this month. Neus Roca Heredia, another Spanish student, shared similar sentiments, saying “I really enjoyed the reunion with the families.”

 

On top of exposure to and practice of the languages that the students study, the trip offered an opportunity for students on both ends of the exchange to have valuable first-hand exposure to cultures completely different from their own. When asked about differences between the United States and Europe, the students had interesting responses, including many things Americans take for granted. Nesrine Besrour, one of the French students, said some of the differences she noticed were personalized license plates, yellow school buses, and the size and style of American homes. Spanish students shared similar views, noting that houses generally seemed larger and buildings more modern than in Catalonia.

Alena Arbós, a member of the Spanish group, said, “The US seems like a really new place. Everything is very modern… In Catalonia, we all live in ancient towns that date to medieval times, with castles and cathedrals”.

Another difference that surprised many of the international students was the young age at which American teens are eligible to drive.

The students also gained exposure to some different sides of American culture, namely the signature American milkshake, which many of the students were having for their very first time, which seemed to be a hit.

Catalonian student Guillem Capdevila said, “they are very good, and they should be popular in Catalonia as well.”

However, not all the students shared Capdevila’s opinion. His brother Albert Capdevila said he found them to be “too sweet.” This proved to be a polarizing family dispute.

Now that the students have left, life has begun to return to normal for both the Flint Hill students and those living in Europe. Nearly all the students involved in the exchange have kept in contact with their hosts and other students from their respective countries through WhatsApp and other social networks and look forward to seeing each other again in the future.

Victoria Lavelle, a Parisian student who hosted senior Nicholas Magdits in France and was hosted by freshman Valorie Vanarsdall in the U.S., created a short YouTube video to immortalize her class trip to Washington. Watch it here:

 

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The School Newspaper of Flint Hill School
Huskies welcome Gallo-Iberian students to our school