Spanish Exchange Takes a Break

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SHS students may have been eager to take part in this year’s Spanish exchange program, but unfortunately, it will not be happening. The beloved program began seven or eight years ago and is one of many Scarsdale students’ favorite experiences from their high school years.

For the last few years, the exchange programs have been offered multiple years in a row. However, preparing for the trips is a lot of work for the teachers, which is why French teacher Sylvie Corten, the World Language Department Chair, is looking for a better balance between the programs. Since another exchange just occured recently, it is difficult to organize another so quickly after the latest one. Going forward, the French and Spanish exchange programs will alternate every other year.

Corten believes the trips are important. “I started with my first exchange when I was 14, and it’s something that was an amazing experience for me. To live with a family, to learn about culture, to practice the language I had learned in the classroom was something I always thought was important to bring to the students. And with all the exchanges that we’ve had it’s been successful because students come back with a different understanding of the culture. That’s the main thing: it strengthens their language skills and also seems to be a great motivator to learn even more, to really embrace the language and culture that they’re studying,” said Corten.

While abroad, Scarsdale students meet kids their age and often stay in touch, forming long-standing friendships. These connections that are formed and their experiences living in a foreign environment help the students develop a better understanding of the cultures they were not familiar with before. “When we host students from another country, they visit other classes and those conversations take place. Automatically, there’s inquiry and it makes more sense, and you’re not just learning from a textbook and from your teacher, but you’re actually meeting teenagers that are actually like you,” expressed Corten.  

While many students might believe the Spanish exchange is permanently cancelled, that is not correct. In fact, Corten is looking forward to continuing the exchange in upcoming years. “It’s something that we strongly believe in and we’re not ready to say we’re no longer doing that,” she explained.