Murphy and Nadolski Chosen to Represent MURSD Student Exchange on trip to Spain

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“The students really looked forward to their weekly chats and learning more about the beautiful city of San Sebastián. They took pride in modeling English for their overseas grade level peers and sharing characteristics of their culture and school,” said Katie Cardamone, Spanish Immersion teacher and program coordinator.

The connection to Santa Teresa School was established by Amaia Soroa, an alumna of the school who arrived in the district through the Spanish Language and Culture Assistants Program, a project offered by the Embassy of Spain’s Education Office.

Both Santa Teresa and MURSD have been seeking experiences for students to travel overseas to enhance their global education. An exchange committee commenced to work on an initial exploratory trip in September 2017. This reconnaissance trip will lay the groundwork for a group of Nipmuc students to travel to the beachside city for two weeks in the 2018 school year and in turn host students from Spain at Nipmuc.

“The announcement of the exchange program has been met with great enthusiasm from our students. It will be the capstone to their many years of study of the Spanish language!” said Julie Ahmed Jusaumme, a Spanish Immersion teacher at Nipmuc and one of the teachers traveling to San Sebastián in September.

“This partnership will create many authentic opportunities for our students to both immerse themselves in a unique culture, and serve as ambassadors to share the MURSD culture and community as we host the Santa Teresa students here,” said Dr. Joseph Maruszczak, Superintendent of Schools.

Students at Santa Teresa are at a minimum bilingual, with fluency in Basque and Spanish. Potential Nipmuc exchange students will be required to have a high proficiency in the Spanish language as Spanish will be the shared language between the students.  While living with families in the city of San Sebastián for two weeks, falling back on English will not be an option.

“For language acquisition, two weeks in total immersion will do wonders for the students’ language skills and confidence. Plus, the benefits of navigating a new culture, albeit fairly ancient, will be a first for Mendon Upton students,” said Cardamone.

“In my experience as a Spanish Immersion student, one thing missing was having the opportunity to travel and utilize the language I had been studying in school for 12 years. An exchange program can be a great incentive for students who work hard to become bilingual and biliterate,” said Colleen Lavoie, a recent Nipmuc graduate and member of the exchange committee that worked to create this experience.

The exploratory planning trip, funded in part by the Mendon-Upton Education Foundation (MUEF), and supplemented by funds for the students’ travel costs, is the result of strong parental response to a GoFundMe page (https://www.gofundme.com/mursdspanishexchangeprogram) and a Spanish Summer Reading Book Drive organized by the students attending the trip.

Abigail Murphy and Katie Nadolski are the two students selected for the fall exploratory trip, based on a competitive application process.  They have already worked hard on the fundraising campaigns and outlined innovative ways to promote the program upon their return.  Nadolski explained: “Using the 21st century skills I have learned at Nipmuc, I will create a video/sideshow presentation that reflects the location, culture, and people of San Sebastian. I will be prepared to share my experience in front of the Spanish language classes at Nipmuc.”

The MUEF grant supports teachers’ Katie Cardamone and Julie Ahmed-Jussuame. The administrators traveling will be Superintendent Maruszczak and Mary Anne Moran, Nipmuc Associate Principal.

Murphy and Nadolski were thrilled to be selected for this opportunity.

“I have been part of the Spanish Immersion Program since kindergarten. Now going into my junior year, I never imagined having the opportunity to travel to Spain as a representative from Nipmuc Regional High School.  I look forward to using my Spanish speaking abilities and learning about the culture while living with a family, attending school and sightseeing,” said Murphy.

The goals of the recon trip to San Sebastian are twofold.  First, to experience the Spanish city and school firsthand in order to ensure a strong and successful program the MURSD families can trust. The second is to positively represent our district and community. From this representation, the intent is to inspire the Santa Teresa families to journey across the pond to see what Mendon-Upton, Massachusetts, and the U.S.A have to offer.

“The Spanish immersion program opens so many doors of opportunity to our students. The exchange is the kind of learning experience that wouldn’t be possible without the innovative programming that the teachers in our district provide to students,” said John Clements, Principal of Nipmuc Regional High School.

 

About Jennifer Doyle

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