The John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum is proud to have John Allen and Jennifer Pappalardo representing the Museum as committee members of the Monomoy Regional School .
Below is The Monomoy School District Thank You article to all committee members who made the Spanish Exchange program possible.
Monomoy Regional High School recently hosted their first ever school-to-school exchange with Colegio Miralba, a high school in Vigo, Spain. Thirteen Spanish students and two teachers spent Nov. 20 through Dec. 2 with Monomoy families. In April, 15 Monomoy students and two teachers will visit Spain for two weeks. We would like to thank the following individuals/organizations/groups for their overall support and generous donations toward funding educational field trips and providing lunch for our guests during their stay:
The Monomoy Regional School Committee members; Scott Carpenter, superintendent of Monomoy Regional School District; Bill Burkhead, principal of Monomoy Regional High School; Otis Russell and the Art of Charity; Brad Boyd, Glenn Ritt, and the Rotary Club of Harwich-Dennis; Glenn Ritt and the Cape Cod Museum Trail; Barbara-Anne Foley of the Harwich Council on Aging and Holy Trinity Parish; Dana DeCosta of the Harwich Council on Aging; Mary Taylor and Chris Galazzi of the Cape Cod Maritime Museum; John Allen and Jennifer Pappalardo of the John F. Kennedy Museum of Hyannis; Leo and Andrea Cakounes; Usama El Sehrawey of Wendy’s Restaurants; Patti Sowpel and Mary Bantick, volunteer field trip chaperones; Kathleen Davock and Joanne Clingan, host parents and dessert reception organizers; all of the Monomoy High School students and families who participated in the exchange; and the entire Monomoy School District community for treating the Spanish guests like family.
Liz Hoff and Leslie Chizek
Monomoy Regional High School
Below is an article on CapeCodChronical.com about the student exchange program.
HARWICH ─ About eight years ago, when Monomoy Spanish teacher Elizabeth Hoff sought a way for her students to use the language beyond the classroom, she turned to the old school communication method of letter writing between her then-Harwich High students and students from Colegio Miralba in Vigo, Spain.
Eight years, many letters, emails, Skype conversations, and day-in-the-life videos later, a group of 15 Monomoy students welcomed a baker’s dozen Spanish students for a memorable two-week visit, the high school’s first-ever exchange program.
For two weeks, students from Colegio Miralba were treated to all manner of American and Cape Cod style adventures via field trips to Plimoth Plantation, the Cakounes cranberry bog, the JFK Museum in Hyannis, the Cape Cod Maritime Museum, the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory, the Museum of Natural History, as well as days spent shadowing their MRHS hosts in classes and a special lunch with folks at the Harwich Senior Center. They even got to experience a traditional American Thanksgiving courtesy of each of their host families.
The visit culminated in a celebratory dessert reception last Thursday before the Spanish students embarked on a brief sojourn to New York City and then boarded the plane for home. The inaugural trip was deemed a huge success by all involved.
“It’s amazing and traveling to the USA was my dream,” said Laura Gutierrez Mendez of Spain. “I haven’t any words to describe my experience. I won’t forget, ever.”
Hoff arranged both the Spanish students’ visit and Monomoy’s subsequent trip next April to Spain through the Prométour company, which typically chooses a foreign school for the exchange. Since Hoff’s students had been in regular contact with Colegio Miralba for years, though, special arrangements were made to have the exchange happen between MRHS and the students from Vigo.
“There’s quite a bit of work involved,” said Hoff. “It’s different than going on a school trip where everything is already planned.”
Doing the planning in both cases is primarily the host responsibility. For the Spaniards’ visit to Cape Cod, Monomoy students and staffers came up with a wealth of activities they felt would represent the area well. Host families also took Spanish students to other Massachusetts locales including a Celtics game, to Boston for the tree lighting, and even north for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“We actually took our student (Sofia Rodriguez Lopez) to Maine for Thanksgiving,” said Debra Dery, whose daughter Margo will travel to Vigo in April. Dery said the trip brought new scenery and even snow. “They had a lot of good time to spend together. To become sisters. It has been a learning experience for two different cultures to get together.”
Gonzalo Rodriguez took in a Celtics-Spurs game with the family of host student Brandon Willis, which proved exciting not only as it was his first exposure to basketball, but also a chance to see Spanish star Pau Gasol of the Spurs play. He also enjoyed Monomoy’s Thanksgiving Day football game, also a first.
“ I love so much the basketball game because I’ve never seen an NBA game,” Rodriguez said. “And at first I don’t understand how American football is played, but now I like it.”
“It’s been pretty fun, getting to know him, getting to know his family a little bit, his culture,” said Willis. “Getting to show him around Cape Cod, Boston, and other parts of New England.”
Daniel Gavira Garcia was especially excited about his trip since his host family, Chris and Sara Sneed, parents of Tre Cohrs, connected the avid Star Wars fan with Paul Tambolleo, Cape Cod’s biggest collector of genre artifacts, and also gave Gavira, who aspires to be a police officer, the chance to talk with local police officers, including Dan Ruth of the Barnstable Police.
“This, my first experience outside the European Union, for me has been like the coolest thing I have ever done since I have knowledge,” said Gavira. “The American people they are great persons, are very friendly, and they are always trying to help each other. I will miss everything. There’s a lot of good people here. I made a lot of friends and I hope I can come back soon.”
“The students really did enjoy their time adding a new member to the family,” Hoff said of the welcome the Spanish students received. “We are grateful that we were able to bring this whole dream to fruition. So many people were involved in helping out in every way. It really truly took a village. Each person played a part.”
That includes funding provided by the Art of Charity and support from the Dennis-Harwich Rotary, Barbara Anne Foley, director of the Harwich Senior Center, and in particular Leslie Chisek, the speech and language therapist at MRHS.
“She played a vital role in securing the majority of the donors for the field trips that we organized for the Spanish guests,” said Hoff.
Now that the Colegia Miralba students are back home, their Monomoy friends are busily planning their April visit, and are continuing to connect via social media.
“It was a great experience to have them come first because we now feel more comfortable,” said Hoff. “We have a connection with somebody when we go over there.”
Hoff hopes the two trips will go a long way towards helping students from each country forge lasting bonds.
“I really hope that the kids are able to squelch any sort of stereotypes that might have been built up over time,” Hoff said. “And also to create lasting friendships and this international bond that really helps them be able to educate others that, as one student stated, we are very similar. I think the biggest lesson here is that we’re not that different.”