It really has been an great adventure & huge learning experience for your children -- & for us. The fact that several of your children really wanted to stay longer speaks for how much they enjoyed themselves. And, of course, we worked hard to help make every day great.
As we said from our first meeting, our objectives were to keep your child safe & well the entire trip, and to provide an immersive Spanish language & culture learning experience that he or she couldn't get anywhere else. While it was a fantastic, fun, often exhiliarating, and tiring 2 weeks, we look at how things went and understand that not everything was perfect. A lot of time was spent trouble shooting (minor concerns with family or house, upset stomachs & headaches, classes they didn't like, visiting many churches & cathedrals, and more). Our first goal was always to help make something better. Beyond that we hoped to demonstrate how a group of 19 individuals can problem-solve & adapt on the fly.
Our daily meetings were the usual reminders about schedules and advice about being careful, being punctual, being aware of cultural differences & customs, & anything else we could think of that would help them appreciate & navigate their way through a city in Spain & living with a family they'd met only days ago. Pretty heady stuff, and we have to say that your children were fantastic. We received compliments from many people, from their families here to the school director to the excursion guides, from their teachers to leaders of other groups. We called every parent on the second day here, and they were delighted at how willing the kids were to speak Spanish & participate!
Of course, as well as we did as a group, none of us was 100% on our game every moment either. A few spoke Spanish 95-100% of the time here, and others got lazy with it at times. Some were where they needed to be when they needed to be there, and others had a real challenge with that. But to live in a new city, to travel to 5 different cities & towns, hundreds of kilometers on a bus, packing essential carry around items & a picnic lunch; to live with a Spanish family; to walk MANY miles every day; to attend Spanish classes every day; to negotiate purchases & go on tours & listen to lectures, & much more -- & and to never have a serious issue or concern speaks volumes about how they did very well when it was most important. Was it perfect? No, and if you have traveled before, you know that perfection isn't the point -- it's more how to assess each situation & make the best of it, right? It was awfully good most of the time, and when it wasn't, we worked together to do what we could to make it better.
At our pre-trip meetings, we often spoke of the other intangible life skills we hoped to develop as we traveled -- like adaptability, handling unexpected delays & disappointing realities, staying healthy & dealing with feeling tired or sick, building confidence, developing appreciation of another culture & its people, growing in both independence and responsibility, & working together as a group, among others -- and that is where you may see subtle & maybe not so subtle changes in your child. These are the skills that we believe will help them feel confident & capable in challenging situations in their future lives.
This is the inaugural trip, and we have learned a lot. For the seniors, we know that the experience will put them in a better position to adapt & succeed when they go to college and when they continue their travels to new lands. For the sophomores & juniors, we hope this has sparked their curiousity & appreciation of other cultures as well as their own and will feel appreciative of the many opportunities they have here in Region 18 and LOLHS!
It will be good to be back! We will bring home a little bit of Salamanca with us and certainly leave a little bit of the Wildcat spirit there