January 7, 2018

Friends From All Over: Mexico Exchange Trip

Sarah Cehelyk ‘18

On November 2, 2017, sophomore Spanish students embarked on an exciting journey to Mexico City, Mexico. Accompanied by chaperones Ms. Kay and Señor Meneses, the group boarded the plane at 7 a.m. and awaited their meeting with their exchange program partners. For the past three years, Golda Och Academy has offered this optional exchange program to Spanish students in order to gain a greater understanding of the culture.
While in Mexico, students had the opportunity to fully immerse themselves into the local lifestyle. Whether it be through the cuisine, rituals and traditions, or tourist sites, each student was able to connect to the country on their own level.
     For sophomore Ally Landau, the food was a very important part of the trip.
“I’ve never had such amazing tacos,” she commented.
For others, including sophomore Zece Brown, the group's visit to the Pyramids was an unforgettable experience.
“The view from the top was absolutely incredible and took my breath away,” he said.
For many students, the relationship formed with their Mexican partners was the most impactful aspect of the trip. Sophomore Amy Gaffen comments that she loved “meeting everyone in the program and sharing our cultures with one another.”
    In Mexico, students were able to immerse themselves in a diverse culture different from their own. Mia Harel expresses that “the trip helped me realize that even though we may live in different countries, we are actually very similar.”
Students who participated in the exchange program in years past also have extremely fond memories from the trip. Senior Lizzie Irwin says that the trip made her realize “that the world isn’t as big as it feels, especially when I have a group of friends that are so similar to mine at home.”
She remains in close contact with the friends that she was introduced to in 2015, especially her buddy Nicole Ellstein from CIM-ORT, the counterpart school in Mexico.
“Each and every one of the students who were involved in the exchange will always hold GOA close to our hearts,” Ellstein said. “Even after two years, most of us have kept in touch, making us closer than any of us thought to be possible.”
Mrs. Shapiro, the orchestrator of the exchange program, has enjoyed watching the positive effects that the trip has on students.
“It has enabled high school students and their families to be a part of a larger global experience and conversation,” she said, “and demonstrates to them that distance and geography is not an obstacle for relationship building.”

The students look forward to giving their buddies the same eye opening American experience this coming February.

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