By Jake Verny ’21
Middle school students traveled to Spain over the summer to learn a new culture and adapt to a new environment. The trip was from June 11 to June 26, and 35 students participated, 20 being seventh graders and 15 being eighth graders. Middle school spanish teachers Aaron Bluestein, Heath Wagerman and Jeannette Rodriguez and middle school English teacher Damaris Saenz chaperoned the students. This was the first middle-school-only Spain trip.
During the trip, the students stayed in Conil de Frontera, where they went to school and stayed with their host families. They also stayed in multiple cities, such as Sevilla, Cordoba, Gibraltar and Bolonia.
According to Bluestein, the goal of the trip was to give students a taste of a cross-cultural experience, allow them to live as a local, provide lots of exposure to the language and give them a glimpse into Spanish culture.
“It was the most gratifying time I have spent at Harvard-Westlake because I got to witness the students be fully immersed and engaged in the culture. I am proud of our students for being resilient, open minded and diving into the Spanish culture,” Bluestein said.
Students said they enjoyed the trip and were fascinated by the cultural differences between Spain and America.
“My trip to Spain was very enlightening, and it helped me learn to adapt to other cultures. It was great to step out of my comfort zone and experience a totally new environment. One big difference between Los Angeles and Spain was the amount of walking we did. It was fascinating to explore the city on your feet and learn about the day to day life in Spain,” Santiago Kelly ’22 said.
Students were also able to improve their grasp of the Spanish language outside of a classroom environment.
“The Spain trip was very interesting, and it really helped me improve my Spanish knowledge and understanding of the culture in two weeks. It is one thing to learn about a country in a textbook, but actually being immersed in the culture is a totally different experience, one that I really enjoyed,” Jack Conlin ’22 said.