From sea to sí

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From sea to sí

"The 2019 KHS Spanish immersion trip began June 5 when 14 students travelled to Mexico to sight-see and volunteer at Genius Academy, a local preschool. Each student stayed with a family whose child attended the school."

Art by Thora Pearson

"The 2019 KHS Spanish immersion trip began June 5 when 14 students travelled to Mexico to sight-see and volunteer at Genius Academy, a local preschool. Each student stayed with a family whose child attended the school."

Art by Thora Pearson

Art by Thora Pearson

"The 2019 KHS Spanish immersion trip began June 5 when 14 students travelled to Mexico to sight-see and volunteer at Genius Academy, a local preschool. Each student stayed with a family whose child attended the school."

The endless rounds of Kahoots and Duolingo games could not prepare them for translating thoughts in a different language. Many believed they could not take enough classes to be ready for living with a real Spanish family. Some said there was no experience similar to climbing a giant hill and looking out at the vast view of the beautiful city. Others argued that no amount of experience could equip the participants for the unique experience of visiting the president’s house. Most importantly, this group of 14 students could never fully expect to begin relationships with families while making a difference for kids in school.

The 2019 KHS Spanish immersion trip began June 5 when 14 students travelled to Mexico to sight-see and volunteer at Genius Academy, a local preschool. Each student stayed with a family whose child attended the school. Lilly Van Rees, junior, said she feels as if the trip has benefited her personal life by giving her lasting memories and remarkable experiences she will never forget.

“Working with the preschoolers was a real eye-opening experience,” Van Rees said. “It was really interesting to be able to see kids from a different country and how they were raised so differently than me.”

For some, the trip provided leeway to breaking barriers between cultures. Lane Fox, senior, said the trip was the first time she travelled with the purpose of volunteering. 

“I feel like everyone’s reason for wanting to go on the trip was different, that’s what made it special,” Fox said. “I felt fulfilled being able to help people and see a country from a different angle. You get a different perspective than you would get sitting at home in Missouri or seeing it on the news.”

Angie Guzman, owner of Genius Academy and KHS substitute teacher, allowed the Spanish program to establish a connection for the immersion trip. She said, while many students enjoyed travelling to different attractions, their primary focus was on improving their language skills.

“The trip was to take these students out of this bubble that they are in usually, to see other ways of living, see other cultures [and] practice the language in real time,” Guzman said. “To see what others’ lives are like and truly get that experience with Spanish is so unique [because the best way to learn is] when you practice that language with real Spanish speakers.”

Melodie Heaps, senior, took Spanish for eight years prior to this trip. According to Heaps, her and other students often felt homesick during the trip. Yet, she said she continued to power through by focusing on volunteering and enjoying visiting popular attractions with her friends.

“It was an important life [lesson] that it’s fine to ask for help and is extremely necessary when in a country where you don’t know the language,” Heaps said. “This trip was all about perseverance. I definitely learned perseverance will you get you through a lot of things.”

According to Guzman, her main goal of this experience was to have students be able to identify the differences in culture and resources Mexico has versus the United States. Fox said that the memories they experienced will make this trip one they will never forget. 

“I think something I value is being able to take into consideration that the world is a big place and that there are a lot of people living in it, and every action that you take has an impact on everyone around you,” Fox said. “If I had to describe this trip, I would say [it had] new experiences that gave me a new perspective.”