By: Miles Shapiro
Recently Arlington High school participated in the Spanish exchange, a program where students from Barcelona, Spain attend school in Arlington, Massachusetts for two weeks. During this time, Spanish students live with an Arlington High School student and their family. The exchange students attend classes along with the child from their surrogate family. Participants of the exchange all know some level of English, however, adeptness ranges from limited, to extensive understanding. Even within the brief amount of time this program lasts, American students report to have developed deep connection and friendship with their exchange students resulting from near constant proximity.
When asked about the societal disparity between the U.S. and Spain, student hosts report that Spain has a considerably more welcoming culture than may be expected. “[The exchange students] are much more accepting to people of different sexualities, different races, and political ideas” reports one AHS student. The ample contrast between Spanish and American daily life also serves as a vessel for students to gain a level of cultural awareness that they would not traditionally have access to.
The trip was equally a physical and social exchange as students explored each others differentiating opinions and ideas. As Spanish students admitted they were surprised by the vast amounts of homework given to American students, Arlington High goers, in turn, were astonished to learn of the the megar homework load their exchange students recieved by comparison.
Visiting Spanish students also seemed to display an adoration of U.S. public transportation, particularly in respect to how much faster and more efficient it is than in Spain.
Participating in any of the diverse assortment of exchange programs is a rewarding experience that allows students to make international connections while providing them with a taste of the world outside their own limiting social bubble.