As I look back fondly at our second annual reciprocal homestay exchange with our sister school in Madrid, Spain, it is hard to believe what a difference a year makes!
Our program continues to grow and improve with experience, feedback and trial and error. The program has gone through some growing pains, but I am incredibly proud of the experiences we are able to offer students who participate in the exchange — both here and abroad.
Students from Madrid enjoyed an overnight trip to Chicago organized and lead by Señora Lizette Pierce (a fellow Spanish teacher). This trip included a stop at Navy Pier, Millennial Park, The Magnificent Mile, Chicago pizza, beach soccer on the shores of Lake Michigan and much more!
On a day trip to Detroit, students toured the Greenfield Village outdoor history museum and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on the shores of the Detroit river with a view Canada. Hot dogs for dinner made the day complete.
Other group highlights included a day in Grabill organized by Amy Kaschinske, a day trip to Cedar Point, an escape room set up by Heather Twomey, a Tincaps game, a downtown walking tour and lunch at City Café, Sky Zone and Coney Island!
Our guests from Spain further benefited from hands on mini lessons on many topics including baseball with IPFW baseball coach Bobby Pierce, the importance of the Great Lakes with Mr. Sean Gibson (social studies teacher), apple cobbler baking with Mrs. Stacey Salisbury (family and consumer science teacher), the Amish way of life with Mrs. Rhonda Breischaft, a lesson on American Presidents with Mr. Andy Morris (history teacher), an afternoon with JROTC thanks to SFC(R) Al Conrad (JROTC instructor), square dancing with Mrs. Pam Rusher (PE teacher) and painting in the style of Jackson Pollock with Mr. Trevor Campbell (art teacher).
The Spanish students became part of our CLHS family as they attended, cheered, painted their faces and did push-ups at two Friday night home football games. They participated in intramural volleyball with their host siblings (thank you Mrs. Crystal Castleman, who organizes the intramural teams). They helped in our Spanish classes and even spent time at Holy Cross teaching Spanish to the students there with Holy Cross teacher Mrs. Andrea Chandler. They practiced soccer with our varsity team (much appreciation to Mr. Kevin Macke, boys soccer coach) and attended soccer, volleyball and football matches. We were blessed to celebrate three of their birthdays American style while they were with us as well!
Our Concordia families continued the tradition of being generous, outstanding hosts. We were invited to a pool party, a lake party, a painting party, a s’mores party and more! Students were taken to lakes, family events, dinners in restaurants, Johnny Appleseed, Sweet Cars, and many other meaningful activities with their host families. Many, many parents chaperoned and drove for activities in and outside of school. Carmen, the teacher from Spain, was treated to many lunches and outings during her time with us. Señora Darcy Lugo (also a fellow Spanish teacher) generously hosted Carmen in her home for the three weeks.
A successful exchange such as this is an enormous, year round undertaking, and I am grateful for everyone who helps to make it the great success that it is!