Foreign exchange programs return to South


Chicago Explorers: Spanish Exchange students take on the windy city and learned about Chicago architecture on a boat tour. Photo courtesy of Annamarie Diaz- Lugo

Sydney O'Hara, staff writer

In a race back to normal after many Covid-19 affected school years, German and Spanish foreign exchange programs have returned this year, Mark Bauman, Spanish Teacher and Exchange Supervisor, said.

The Spanish exchange program hosted students from Orihuela, Spain last week from their arrival on Oct. 8 through Oct. 17, Bauman explained.

South students spent the last week entertaining their exchange partners who will show them around Spain when they go to visit in March, Bauman continued.

“The exchange program brings students from Spain to GBS every other fall, always during homecoming week,” Bauman explained. “They stay with families of students for 10 days and then we go to Spain during our spring break to do the opposite side of the experience.”

While in Spain, students will have a chance to explore the town of Orihuela, its surrounding attractions, and the day-to-day life of a Spanish teen, Bauman said.

“We have one day in school with everyone, another day where we take a tour of the town and meet the mayor,” Bauman explained. “We have a day where we go to Valencia which is a very big city on the coast, we have a day on the beach, and we have a trip to Granada where we visit the Alhambra.”

Similarly, the German exchange program is hosting students from small towns in the Black Forest for two weeks starting Oct. 15, Laurie Haugh, German Teacher and Exchange Supervisor, said. South Students will- visit Germany for two weeks after school ends in June, Haugh continued.

Students participating in the exchange will get to experience what life is like for teens in Germany and go on day trips to explore the Black Forest, Haugh said.

“[Students will] do everyday things: go to school, go to the grocery store, hang out with friends,” Haugh explained. “Then [they will] also go on trips like hiking the Alps [and] going to the German version of Great America.”

Senior Annamarie Diaz-Lugo, Spanish exchange participant, said that the exchange program offers a deeper understanding and appreciation of their chosen language.

“[The foreign exchange is] more immersive than any Spanish class you could be in,” Diaz-Lugo said. “It really gives you that unique personal perspective on a different culture.”

Exchange students visiting South practice their English, among other things, Irene Lopez-Garcia, Spanish exchange student, explained.

“I wanted to take part [in the exchange] because I really like English and think it is so important,” Lopez-Garcia said.

Likewise, South students work to progress towards fluency in their chosen language, junior Erin Reeve, German exchange participant said.

“I think it’s so helpful to be thrown into [a language],” Reeve said. “I’m going to learn so much while I’m [in Germany].”