The Smoke Signal

PV students participate in Spanish Exchange Program

Jenna Joroff, Staff Writer

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(From left) Derek Rosenbach, Will Morris, Julie Martin-Moons, Lauren Cohen, Robyn Roznitsky. The students visit the Palacio Real in Madrid.

When Spanish teacher, Ms. Courtney Farrell, walked into the Mosque of Córdoba with her Spanish Exchange students, she awaited the moment when they would recognize where they were. As students glanced around, she looked to see if anyone had noticed, that was until a student said, “Oh my gosh! It’s just like Señor Lewis’s room!”

And they were right.

Students who sat in Mr. Andrew Lewis’s Spanish classroom recognized the Mosque from a picture on his wall. Every day, students sat in his classroom and looked at the picture, and finally, they were experiencing it for themselves.

Farrell, a Pascack Valley alumna, had Lewis for Honors Spanish II as a freshman, so this experience was especially meaningful for her.

“It was like the classroom had come to life,” Farrell said. “This moment was really memorable for me because it was the same reaction I had when I was 20 years old.”

Currently, there are nine PV students involved in the exchange program, of which five went to Spain in this past March. While they were there, students spent time with their host families, experienced the local high school, traveled around the area, and applied the Spanish they had learned.

“You learn how to deal with words you don’t know, and you figure it out by being there, living with the family, where you are forced to learn how to speak Spanish,” Farrell said.

Students spent two days in a local high school with Spanish students who are involved in the program. They followed their peers through a typical day of school in Spain. After, they returned to their host family’s house and spent time with the families.

In addition to attending the school, the students traveled all over Spain, making their way to main cities like Madrid, Toledo, and Seville.

In Madrid, students took a guided tour of the El Prado museum, the Reina Sofia museum, and then visited the Parque el Retiro. In Toledo, students learned about the unique blend of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim influences. In Seville, the students visited the Catedral de Sevilla, the Alcázar de Sevilla, and took a bike tour of the city.

Students in the exchange program have been working towards the goal of traveling to Spain for the entire four years of their high school career. Students are required to be in Spanish IV, Honors Spanish IV, Spanish V, or AP Spanish to be able to go on this school trip.

“I think some people might be a little worried that their Spanish isn’t good enough, but just because you aren’t taking the highest level language, doesn’t mean you can’t be involved,” Farrell said.

Senior Lauren Cohen encourages others to join the exchange program.

“You get to see how someone else lives and you get to spend time with them, and really immerse yourself in their culture because you are living with them for a week, ” Cohen said. “You are practicing the language, and you are eating the food, traveling to different cities that have historical and cultural influences to them.”

PV senior Julie Martin-Moons also added that this trip is a unique experience that has changed her life. As an AP Spanish student, this trip tested her to apply the Spanish that she had learned. Martin-Moons believes that the experience of meeting new people and using her Spanish was unforgettable.

“My mom said it was a really good opportunity and she was right,” Martin-Moons said. “This is the most fun time I’ve ever had at Pascack Valley. Any field trip doesn’t compare to this.”

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1 Comment

One Response to “PV students participate in Spanish Exchange Program”

  1. Courtney Farrell on June 13th, 2018 5:07 pm

    Great article, Jenna! If any seniors taking Spanish are interested in joining the trip next year, please email me. 🙂

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PV students participate in Spanish Exchange Program