Unionville High welcomes Spanish students

This article can be found published in the Oct. 2, 2014, edition of The Kennett Paper.

Oscár Ramos del Cano and Alison Quigley help both the Unionville and Spanish exchange students settle in at breakfast. (Candice Monhollan)

KENNETT SQUARE — While the majority of students were in class, a few select ones were in the cafeteria, welcoming 22 students and two chaperones who made the long journey from Spain to be a part of Unionville’s first Spanish exchange program on Sept. 16.

Spearheaded by Alison Quigley, the high school’s Spanish teacher, the program has been in the works for the last seven months.

“It was a lot of preparation making sure all the arrangements are made, tickets are purchased, busses are secured and making sure everybody has a place to go,” she said. “There was a lot of planning and preparation. Not just recently, but as far back as last February. This past week, it has been pretty crazy and almost a non-stop job trying to make sure everything was ready. Now that we’re here and it’s started, I think it’s going pretty well.”

To help find the school in Spain, they stumbled upon a perfect company to do just that.

“For us, fortunately, we found a company online that would match us with a school in Spain that was also looking to do an exchange, which is how we got connected with out partner school, Colegio San José,” Quigley said. “I started e-mailing back and forth with their head teacher and we started planning the activities.”

Each exchange student is partnered with a Unionville student and will be staying with them and attending classes together.

“They’re enrolled in all different kinds of things,” Quigley said. “There are kids involved in AP classes, there are kids involved in music, there are kids involved in art and things like that. They’re going to get to see a whole wide range of different things.”

One of the chaperones, a music teacher from Colegio San Jose in León, Spain, is excited at the chance of learning as much as he can while he’s here.

“First, to see firsthand how here, at this school, the curriculum works and how people study and take the best ideas and apply them to my school in Spain,” said Oscár Ramos del Cano. “Second, to see the culture here in America. I’m really looking forward to that.”

It’s Ramos del Cano’s first time in the United States and was taking mental notes of things to see as he rode by on the bus.

“On the way here, I was looking through the windows and saying, ‘I’m going to go there and I’m going to go there,’” he said. “It’s so beautiful and so big. Above all, the people have been so kind. So far, it has been a wonderful experience.”

After spending 16 days in the United States, the exchange students will head back home and wait until the spring to see their partners again, this time when the Unionville students go over to Spain.

“When they go to Spain, they’re going to stay with the same families whose child came to visit them this time,” Quigley said. “It will be really good for them.”

Everything has gone off without a hitch on both ends and everyone involved is happy that the day was finally here.

“Everybody was so excited,” Quigley said. “Our kids were talking about it and their kids were talking about it. (The Spanish students) were so excited when they pulled up in the bus. They just jumped out of their seats when they saw everybody waiting at the school and they could see from the windows our students were jumping up and down.”

At the end of it all, on Sept. 30, everyone will enjoy a final get together to say their goodbyes until the spring.

“We’re going to have a farewell party at the golf and country club right up the road,” Quigley said. “It will be a nice send-off for everybody.

If all goes well, like it has so far, Quigley hopes this will be the first of many exchange programs with Spain.

“We’re hoping, since this is our first time, that all goes well and we’ll have a nice, little foundation for the next time it happens,” she said.


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Categories: Community, Education

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