A Summer Spent Abroad

AHS+exchange+students+standing+in+front+of+Nahuel+Huapi+lake.+
AHS exchange students standing in front of Nahuel Huapi lake.

AHS exchange students standing in front of Nahuel Huapi lake.

Photo courtesy of Finnagen Allen

Photo courtesy of Finnagen Allen

AHS exchange students standing in front of Nahuel Huapi lake.

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Living with people you don’t know can be uncomfortable, but when they don’t speak the same language as you, it becomes even more difficult. This summer six students spent a month living with an exchange family in Bariloche in an immersive language program. While this program has not been running for the past three years, it existed for 15 years prior. In addition to spending time learning Spanish in the classroom and in their host houses, the students also explored the local culture, went sightseeing, and participated in activities such as skiing and paintball. After visiting Bariloche during the Aspen Middle School Sister Cities Program, senior Liam Rigney, had incentives beyond improving his Spanish to go on the trip.

“What caught my eye, or excited me, was the idea of returning to a special place in my life, only this time with the ability to immerse myself fully in the culture,” Rigney said. “Probably the most appealing part was going back to eat the food, because the food there was the best I’ve ever had in my entire life.”

The students spent three days each week exploring Bariloche followed by a two hour long Spanish class. The weekends were spent with their host families, and the other days were filled with activities and more sightseeing. Alex Reginelli, AHS Spanish teacher and chaperone of the Bariloche trip, believes that it is important to get students out of the classroom to really experience another culture.

“The goals of this trip were to get the students really immersed, to kind of take the things that they have learned over the number of years that they have been taking Spanish, and to be able to put those things into action,” Reginelli said.

Throughout their time there, the students were able to substantially improve their Spanish through class time and conversations with the locals. Reginelli also noticed that all of his students are now fluent listeners, and can follow along in conversations between multiple people. AHS senior, Finn Allen, agreed with Reginelli.

“I got a lot better at Spanish, I am pretty much now able to carry conversation pretty well in Spanish which is awesome. I can understand most people when they are speaking Spanish really well.”

The students expressed that bonding with their host siblings, meeting the locals, and the beautiful views of Bariloche were their favorite parts of the trip. Alex Reginelli on the other hand admitted that his favorite part was challenging his students to paintball fights.

After this amazing experience, most of the student expressed desire to go back to Bariloche or participate in an exchange program in the future.

“I love traveling, so if an opportunity presents itself I will probably look into it, because why not?” Rigney said. “I would love to return to Bariloche a few more times over the course of my life.”

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