December 22, 2015

Sophomores Enjoy a “Mexciting” Partnership with CIM-ORT

Sophomores Enjoy a “Mexciting” Partnership with CIM-ORT
Alissa Lampert ‘18


Seventeen GOA sophomores from three different Spanish classes received what they perceive to be an opportunity of a lifetime this year, partaking in a Mexican exchange program.
After an informational email was sent in June, interested students were interviewed in August and September to match up with Mexican partners. When match-ups were finalized, the schools began preparations for the first half of the program in New Jersey.
On November 11, Mexican students from the CIM-ORT school in Mexico City began a week-long stay with GOA students for an introduction to Jewish-American culture. The week was packed with visits to iconic tourist attractions in New York City, including a trip to Ellis Island and the 9/11 Museum, volunteer work at local organizations and even visits to the different Spanish classes.
“Although the students only went on one programmed after-school event with their partners, they quickly formed close bonds with each other,” said sophomore Eran Shapiro. “The constant texting throughout the week and the trips the students took with their partners on free weekend days created numerous jokes and memories between the students of different nationalities.”
The sad mood on the day of the Mexican students’ departure was recounted by almost all of the participants and serves as evidence to the school administration that this program creates great friendships.
“Many of us were expecting trouble communicating, but the language barrier was not an issue,” said sophomore Aaron Pearlstein. “Since most of the Mexican students have been learning English since first grade, communication was simple, but there were a few times when explanations were needed.
“I hope that when we go to Mexico, we will speak more Spanish, but the communication will be just as easy.”
Pearlstein and Shapiro were not the only students who had comments about the program they wished to vocalize. After the Mexican students left, sophomore Iris Berman said, “With the Mexican students’ departure, our excitement and nervousness increases for when we will be visiting Mexico for a week.”
Mrs. Shapiro, the program’s coordinator, echoed many of the students’ sentiments.
“For the students the promise of the introduction to a new culture, food, and lifestyle is an exciting thought by itself,” she said, “but the added bonus of reuniting with their new friends leaves them all in great anticipation for the second half of this exchange.”
Some students felt that because this is a pilot program, there are changes that could be made to better the trip for next year. One piece of criticism sophomore Rebecca Landau had was that she felt the program was too short.  Landau recalled that many of both the Mexicans and Americans regretted that they had to fit so many activities into a very small amount of time.
“Being together for two weeks out of a nine month school year is frustrating and will hopefully be addressed for future programs,” she said.

For now though, the students will have to impatiently wait for February’s arrival.

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