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Riverwood Students Live, Study and Travel in Spain this Summer

Fourteen students and two teachers from Riverwood International Charter School traveled to Spain this summer for a total language and culture immersion experience. The group spent 17 days in Barcelona, Seville, and surrounding areas as part of the third year of Riverwood’s Spanish language and culture study abroad program. The students lived with local families and attended a local school in Seville. According to Riverwood Spanish teacher Lorraine Lynch who led the trip for the third consecutive year, “Total language and cultural immersion is essential to building global citizens. To fully experience a language and culture as ‘locals’ do offers students a first-person experience which is not possible in the confines of a classroom.” The program was offered in conjunction with Centro MundoLengua, a private language school and educational tour operator. Lynch and Riverwood International Baccalaureate (IB) teacher and World Language Department Chair, Donna Vargas, accompanied the Riverwood students, who ranged in age from 10th grade to recent graduates.

Over the course of two weeks, the students attended structured language courses each morning and, after lunch, experienced Spanish culture through various group activities. Highlights included visits to Seville’s cultural treasures such as the Alcazar and the Plaza España. They also travelled to the Spanish cities of Cadiz, Cordoba, and to Barcelona at the end of their trip. In coastal Cadiz, many students took surfing lessons. The group participated in a hands-on paella cooking class in Seville, as well as a Catalan cooking class in Barcelona. In Barcelona, highlights included experiencing some of famed architect Antoni Gaudi’s masterpieces, including La Sagrada Familia. All classes, lessons, and tours were conducted completely in Spanish. Friends and family of the students traveling followed their adventures on social media and via their student-led blog.

According to trip participant, Riverwood student Maeve Munson, “The best part for me was being completely immersed into their life. We were constantly seeing something new for the first time and experiencing an entirely different culture first hand.”  Adds Riverwood junior Oliver Davidson, “I think studying abroad is the most beneficial thing that someone can do to improve their Spanish/foreign language ability and to improve their knowledge of another country’s culture. I would encourage any student who is considering going on the trip to go!”

In support of its International Studies and International Baccalaureate curriculum, Riverwood organized several international trips in 2018:  a service trip to Nicaragua over Spring Break 2018, and separate trips to Spain and France during summer 2018. The school plans to sponsor additional international trips in the future. The 2018 trips received support from the Riverwood Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to support initiatives that enhance the learning experience for Riverwood’s students.

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