South embarks on foreign exchange


Courtesy of Yasuko Makita-Discekici

Cultural Connections: While in America, exchange students shadowed their partners at South.

Mia Carr, News editor

South students selected for the Spanish, German, and Japanese exchange programs will embark on a oreign exchange trips to their respective countries this year, various language teachers said. These exchanges, which will be occurring at separate times depending on the program, are great opportunities for students to be immersed in a new culture, Japanese Teacher Yasuko Makita-Discekici, said. 

While at South, from March 2 to 6, 30 Japanese students followed their host student while at school, Makita-Discekici said. Over Spring break, South students will travel to Shiga, Japan, and visit cities Kyoto and Tokyo, Makita-Discekici, said. South students will shadow their exchange partners, she explained.

From Oct. 8 to 17, 2022, students from Orihuela, Spain visited South, Mark Bauman, Spanish Teacher and Exchange Supervisor, said. Additionally, students from Germany visited South from Oct. 15 to 25, 2022, German Teacher Laurie Haugh said. 

“[Exchange students] can help each other [learn]  cultural [perspectives],  lifestyles, and vocabulary expressions,” Makita-Discekici said

The Spanish exchange program, which began in 2002 and occurs every two years, collaborates with two high schools from Orihuela, Spain, Bauman said. In the United States, Spanish exchange students attended school and explored Chicago, he explained. When South students travel to Spain over spring break, they will spend ten days exploring the country and growing accustomed to Spanish culture, Bauman said.

Similar to the Spanish exchange program, German students attended South and went on trips around Glenview and Chicago, Haugh said. During June of this year, South students in the German exchange program will travel to Germany for two weeks, Haugh added. 

The process of the exchange begins for South students in the Spring, junior Sundia Wilkins, a Spanish student at South attending the exchange, explained. Students are required to submit a letter of recommendation for the program from either a coach or a teacher at the school, she said. Once they are selected, students are required to fill out a form that assigns them to their exchange partner, Wilkins added. Being chosen for the program is a big deal for students in the Spanish program as it is highly selective, she said.

“I was so excited [when I got selected],” Wilkins said. “I’m really glad that South gets this opportunity.”

Additionally, exchange programs are valuable in that they give students not only a greater understanding of the language, but also of the country’s culture, Bauman said. He hopes that through the exchange programs, students will learn the importance of traveling the world.

“The exchange is really valuable for students who are interested [in using] Spanish in the real world,” Bauman said. “It’s a cultural [and] linguistic exchange, and hopefully it’ll plant the seeds for students who participate to want to travel around the world in the future.”