Fremd exchange program with high school in Spain builds learning, friendships

  • Students from a high school in Spain present information about their culture, school, academics and country during an exchange program at Fremd High School in Palatine.

    Students from a high school in Spain present information about their culture, school, academics and country during an exchange program at Fremd High School in Palatine. Courtesy of District 211

 
Submitted by Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211
Posted10/14/2022 6:00 AM

In early September, a group of 25 students and teachers from Colegio León XIII in Málaga, Spain, arrived at William Fremd High School in Palatine.

There, they were paired with Fremd students and began a two-week journey to learn about the life of American high school students.

 
Students from a high school in Spain embrace their new friends from Fremd High School following an exchange program that allowed the groups to learn more about their schools, culture and each other.
Students from a high school in Spain embrace their new friends from Fremd High School following an exchange program that allowed the groups to learn more about their schools, culture and each other. - Courtesy of District 211

As part of the experience, the students attended classes with their American host partners, allowing them to participate in courses not offered in their school in Spain.

"We attended cooking classes," said student Claudia Darnica. "We don't have that at home."

"There was also the child development class," added Ana Olalla, "but I enjoyed the business classes."

The Spanish students also spoke with the different Spanish World Language classes at Fremd about their life in Spain.

Students from Spain converse with students from Fremd High School in Palatine during an exchange trip. The Spanish students spent time at Fremd, with their teachers commenting about the spirit and school culture.
Students from Spain converse with students from Fremd High School in Palatine during an exchange trip. The Spanish students spent time at Fremd, with their teachers commenting about the spirit and school culture. - Courtesy of District 211
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The students weren't the only ones to take something away from the trip.

Biology teacher Rocio Dominguez said she noticed an atmosphere unlike what she had back home.

"Here at Fremd there is a community, a society that is not that way in Spain," said Dominguez. "We need to create this experience in our schools. What I see in the students here, I want to see in my students."

Chemistry teacher Maria Espejo agreed.

"We see that students here have a lot of spirit about the school," Espejo said. "We want to try to do this at home. It is very important to love your school and be confident in your school."

Students from Colegio León XIII in Málaga, Spain, talk in small groups with Fremd High School students at the Palatine high school as part of an exchange program.
Students from Colegio León XIII in Málaga, Spain, talk in small groups with Fremd High School students at the Palatine high school as part of an exchange program. - Courtesy of District 211
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

For Fremd High School World Language teacher Lissette Parreno, organizing the exchange is a labor of love.

"Even though it is a lot of hard behind-the-scenes work, I feel it is worth it," Parreno said. "I love the relationships the students create with their partners. Many students become lifelong friends."

The quick bonds and strong friendships were noticeable at the trip's end, when the program hosted a farewell dinner for the visiting Spanish students.

Fremd High School students pose with their Spanish high school counterparts at the culmination of an exchange program that has been long-running at the school.
Fremd High School students pose with their Spanish high school counterparts at the culmination of an exchange program that has been long-running at the school. - Courtesy of District 211

During the evening, each pair discussed, through both laughter and tears, what they had enjoyed most about the previous two weeks. Visiting students were described as "new best friends" or "the sister I never had as an only child."

As part of the exchange program, the Fremd host students will have the opportunity to visit Málaga later in the school year and stay with the students they hosted. The exchange program has been in existence at Fremd since 2006 and has included students from various regions of Spain.

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