Devon Prep Spanish Exchange Students Enjoy American Culture

Main Line private school hosts exchange students from Spain as part of global program.
 
 
Two Devon Prep sophomores with several of the Spanish exchange students.
Two Devon Prep sophomores with several of the Spanish exchange students.
 
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Aug. 3, 2012 - PRLog -- Hamburgers, Hershey's chocolate and the Jersey Shore were just some of the things Devon Prep's first Spanish Exchange students found interesting during their recent visit to America. The 18 students and three teachers were visiting from Colegio Cristo Rey, a Piarist Fathers’ School in Zaragoza, Spain.  The Piarist Fathers are the religious order that conducts Devon Prep.  The purpose of the program was to help the students learn about American culture, and improve their English skills.

The 12 young women and six young men, ages 14 and 15, lived with Devon Prep students and their families for two weeks. They attended classes and visited points of interest such as historic Philadelphia, New York City, Washington DC, Lancaster County and Hershey. They also attended a lacrosse game, a Sixers’ game and a Devon Prep performance of The Phantom of the Opera.  And of course they went shopping at the King of Prussia Mall. Many of the students also visited the Jersey shore with their host families. They went bowling and to the movies and out to dinner. Several families even hosted parties for all the Spanish students and their hosts..

According to Ms. Barbara Medina, program coordinator and Devon Prep Spanish teacher, the best part of the program was watching the exchange between the Devon Prep hosts and the visiting students. “Not only would I hear the Spanish students speaking English to their hosts, but our students were speaking Spanish to the visitors,” she said. “I was so happy that our students were able to absorb the cultural aspect of the program but also work on their foreign language skills as well.”

Devon Prep Freshman James Stanish agreed. He and his family hosted Mariana Perez Alicar. “It was a great experience and really fun,” he said. “They were here to learn English better but at the same time it helped me with my Spanish. My accent got better the more I spoke Spanish.”

Junior Antonio Muscarella also hoped to improve his Spanish by hosting Isabel Beltran Domingo.  “I figured that she wanted to learn more English and since I’m not very good with speaking Spanish we could help each other,” Muscarella explained.  “She helped me with my Spanish pronunciation and I helped her with her English. It definitely was a worthwhile experience.”

Apparently the exchange students thought so as well.  Many of them expressed the desire to return to the US and some wished they could extend their stay. They enjoyed eating fast food and Hershey chocolate, shopping on Sundays, and seeing the real Jersey Shore.  The large houses and open spaces impressed them as well because most people live in apartments or flats in Spain. They even got used to dinner time being several hours earlier than in Europe.  

They were, however, surprised that Americans don’t eat at McDonalds all the time. “We think that all Americans eat fast food all the time because there are so many McDonalds, Burger Kings, and Pizza Huts,” said Juan Jose Araiz Marin. “But then you come here and you see that they eat burgers, but not the hamburgers of McDonalds, but big hamburgers that you get in American restaurants. The first time I ate an American hamburger I thought ‘wow I am not going to finish it.’ But I did.”

“I enjoyed the Amish country. That was very interesting,” said Mariana Perez Alicar. “I don’t know how they live without electricity and technology. I also liked shopping and eating Hershey’s chocolate.  Here you can shop on Sunday, everything is open. In Spain only restaurants are open on Sunday.

This is my first time in America and I like it very much,” she continued. “I would like to spend a holiday here when I’m older. I would love to visit the West Coast. I am not ready to go home yet. I would like to stay with my American family for two more months.”

In the fall several Devon Prep students will participate in an exchange program with Colegio Cristo Rey in Spain.  They hope to reconnect with their Spanish guests from the spring and experience their culture as they travel through the country. Devon Prep also runs a German exchange program with Albertus Magnus Gymnasium (AMG) in Stuttgart. Students from AMG visit Devon Prep every other year and Devon Prep students travel to Germany on the alternate years.  For more information about Devon Prep or the exchange programs call Devon Prep Admissions at 610-688-7337, email admissions@devonprep.com, or visit www.devonprep.com.

Devon Prep is a private, Catholic, college preparatory school for young men in grades six through 12, conducted by the Piarist Fathers. Located on a 20 acre campus on North Valley Forge Road in Devon, Chester County, Devon Prep enrolls nearly 300 students who hail from the five county Philadelphia area.
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