Twenty Seven LOHS Students got to have a once in a lifetime experience this summer as the Spanish department hosted their biennial trip to a Spanish speaking country. For two weeks at the end of June, the twenty seven students got the opportunity to travel to Colombia. For those two weeks, the students were immersed in the culture of Colombia through different fun organized activities. Although experiencing a new country can be scary, Senior Isabella Merino described the trip as “Probably the best two weeks of my life,” a thought echoed by most of the students who participated on the trip.
For a little under a week, the students stayed in Medellin, the former most dangerous city in the world that is a great example the success of urban renewal projects. In Medellin, the group partook in activities to experience the city such as exploring the cities famous museums, neighborhoods, and landmarks. Sophomore Leyna Harmon says that the best part of the trip for her was “The free time to explore the culture with an amazing group of people.” After their time in Medellin, the students spent a little over a week in the town of Jardin de Antioquia. In Jardin, the students primarily worked on building a service project where they constructed a playground area for the children of a small indigenous community.
Another part of the cultural immersion was the opportunity to live in host families. Senior Eoin Maccarvill spoke positively about his host family experience when he said, “The host families were so welcoming and made us feel like we belonged in their home, even if we were just there for a week.” Spanish Teacher Lisa Evonuk who is one of the principal advisors of the trip described the service project as the “most meaningful parts of the trip.”
The trip was full of new experiences for the majority of the LOHS students who participated, but it was also the last trip like this for Evonuk and Ian Reeves. Evonuk and Reeves have been leading trips like this for a while and decided that the Colombia trip was the last high-school trip that they were going to lead. Evonuk started doing the trips in 2007 and the popularity of the trip has gradually increased over the years. Maccarvill, a participant in both the Colombia trip and the previous Guatemala trip believes that the trip has become more popular because “There has been more word of mouth communication about how great the trips are.” The success of the trips is greatly attributed to the dedication and hard work of the teachers. Evonuk describes the role of the teacher as “a chaperone, a guide, a friend, an organizer and so much more.” The teacher has the tough responsibility of being in charge of a large group of high schoolers while also making the trip fun. Sophomore Shea Ivey says that the teachers helped elevate her experience of her trip because, “They helped us communicate with the natives, but also helped us have fun by giving us ideas on how to make the most of our experience in a new country.”
The experience on the trip gave students the unique opportunity to be able to see their teachers in a light outside of school. Harmon said, “It was cool to be able to connect to the teachers on things we wouldn’t normally see inside of school.” Merino echoed Harmon when she said, “The teachers are a good example and great models so we learned a lot about their life experiences on the trip.”
The advisor in charge of the Spanish Trips is now Breck Foster who is currently a Spanish and Social Studies teacher at LOHS. Foster believes that these trips are meaningful because “Travel abroad programs in high school and college helped make me a more open-minded person and also a person that is always looking at how things we are doing locally are connected to the larger world.” For the future, Foster wants to “make the trip more accessible by emphasizing opportunities to fundraise so the cost is not a deterrent.”