Guadalajara Students at Sibley for Two WeeksGuadalajara exchange is a life-changing experience. We spoke with some of the participants about their experience.
By: Scribe Staff, Sibley Scribe
Each year, approximately twenty upper-level Spanish students participate in a student-exchange program with a high school in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. The program was set up by Spanish teacher Robert Hanson, and this year’s first “leg” is over. The students will leave in a couple of weeks for their stay in Guadalajara, but we were able to talk with a few of them about their experiences and memories with their new “brothers” and “sisters” from Guadalajara.
According to Hayley Cunningham, this was the best two weeks of her high school life. Many of the group’s activities were done together, including Timberwolves games, Sibley basketball games, skiing and restaurant outings. Some Sibley students, such as Rita Hachlowski and Hannah Tikach mentioned how incredible it was to see their Guadalajaran counterparts’ reaction to snow. They had never seen it before. The students were able to go snowtubing and play laser tag, but the first snowball fight was one of Hannah Tikach’s memorable moments from the experience.
Then there was the food. The Guadalajara students’ eating patterns were very different from those of their Sibley hosts. They generally eat lunch around noon, something else around 4:00 P.M., and then dinner around 9:00 P.M. They also eat far less than we do, and go out to restaurants far less often. Another first for them here was baking chocolate chip cookies and Rice Krispy treats. They seemed to really like Italian food, but some ended up sick of pizza. They loved root beer floats, but most interestingly perhaps was their reaction to our “Mexican” food. Lilly Haagenson’s guest commented on how good but un-Mexican places like Chipotle were. To them, Theresa’s was more like it, but still not what they had at home. Gabriella Cerda’s family tried to blend some Mexican-style food with some American staples. They would have things like shredded beef and avocados, but also American-style pancakes.
Several of the Sibley students took their guests on family outings. Jack O’Leary took his brother up to the family’s cabin where they went kiteboarding. Patrick Holec also took his brother, Daniel, to the family cabin where he tried skating and took part in the classic Minnesota winter activity, ice fishing. Gabriella Cerda took her guest to see Sherlock Holmes 2, and commented that he “got more of the jokes [in Victorian-era English] than we did.”
According to Mr. Hanson, this year’s group was characterized by several things. First, the kids (hosts) were very responsible. They would wait around for their guests, give rides to anyone who needed one, etc. Second, the students really didn’t seem to break off into little cliques. They all just helped each other and did things together. Finally, it seems that this year the parents were able to get to know their guests better than in previous years, and that made the departure especially difficult and tear filled.
The Sibley students will be leaving soon for their stay in Guadalajara, where they will have the same kind of invaluable experiences that their Guadalajaran counterparts had here. This exchange program not only allows individuals to experience something incredible, it encourages the kind of cultural awareness and ability to adapt and be open minded that will be so important in our futures.