The Student News Site of Traverse City West Senior High

The Occidentalist

The Occidentalist

The Occidentalist


Should School Personnel Be Armed?

  • No (55%, 17 Votes)
  • Yes (45%, 14 Votes)

Total Voters: 31

Loading ... Loading ...

Students to Leave to Go On Exchange Trips

Students will be leaving to go on trips to Spain and Germany

  Summer is an opportunity for students to be more involved in their community, however, summer also opens doors to experiencing different cultures. Students who take language classes had the chance to sign up for an exchange program for three weeks during the summer to taste a different slice of life in either Spain, Mexico or Germany. Living with host families, those who go on any of the summer trips with TCAPS will expand their knowledge of the local language and immerse themselves in a brand-new culture. 

  “They’re doing a homestay in Germany, it’s just [a] different daily life. Using subway systems, planes, trains, buses, trams, the whole thing. Even something called the funicular in English, which takes you up a steep incline, and that’s how you get up to sheltered fortresses. The students will use public transportation the whole day. They’ll learn how to go here from there and learn their German skills. During the homestay, they’ll learn what it’s like [living in a typical German household]. They’ll live with a partner, communicating with them and shadow them at school,” German teacher and chaperone Kerry Labonte said. 

  Students are paired with their host siblings through common interests and personality traits. During the trip, exchange students will touch up on the language they’re learning at the school, and the host siblings will expand upon their English when they come to the US. 

  “I’ve been in contact with my German exchange student and we’ve been talking a lot. She’ll be coming here to the U.S. afterward, so we’ve been talking about the differences between Germany and the U.S. We’ve also been talking about our personal lives and where we go to school, what we eat and what our family routine looks like,” freshman Bronwyn Shullick said. 

  Despite students having multiple instances to travel, such as Italy, Japan and Europe trips during spring break, the trips to Mexico, Germany and Spain are less tourist-based. Although sightseeing is part of the trip, such as observing historical buildings, museums and landmarks, the trip is mainly centered around being educated about the culture and language. 

  “The Italy trip was short and more tourist-based. We saw all the big sights that you’re supposed to see in Italy. With the Spain trip, we’re mostly focused on learning the language rather than sightseeing,” sophomore Lila Swan said. 

  Traveling and expanding the knowledge of different cultures could widen perspectives and opportunities outside your high school curriculum. Being familiar with a different language opens up doors for different job opportunities, and the relationships created could benefit exchange students for years to come. 

  “If you only speak English, this is your job market, but if you’re multilingual, a polyglot, you’ve got the world. The relationships that you make are lifelong,” Labonte said. 

  In addition to studying the language, students also have the opportunity to learn about the history of the different countries that they visit.

  “[On the trip,] students expand their knowledge of European history and about Spain’s connection to the development of the U.S.A., and its colonies in the Americas. The students receive high school credit for participating in the language exchange programs that we have at TCAPS in German and Spanish,” Tamara Batcha, a West Spanish teacher and chaperone on the Spain trip, said.

  On the trips, students are able to experience a heightened amount of personal responsibility. In addition to excess responsibility, they will also have newfound freedoms that comes with it. 

  “Students also gain independence when traveling and having to make their own decisions without adult oversight about when to wake up or go to sleep, when to study and what to eat,” Batcha said.

  Attendees can certainly expect a memorable experience, with days full of formal and informal educational experiences, that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

  “Students will attend a language school in Barcelona for five days with classes scheduled in the afternoons and extra curricular activities scheduled in the mornings and evenings,” Batcha said.

  According to Batcha, among the many differences students visiting Spain for the first time will notice, the biggest may be the food and variety of cultures.

  “The food is centered on a seafood palate near the coast and in Madrid it will feature more of the iberico ham and Spanish tortilla. Another fun experience is that while in classes their classmates will be from 25 different countries so they will have several opportunities to make friends from different cultures,” Batcha said.

  Many from the U.S. have unclear and incorrect stereotypes about people from different cultures. Going on this trip opens eyes to cultural cliches, both on the host family’s culture and America’s culture.

  “They get an opportunity to break down stereotypes, because people have this idea with what Americans are, and we have this idea with what Germans are. Just living life as a teenager in another country. I remember when I did that, I just came home with a whole new outlook with what life was like, and what life had to offer. Life is way bigger than Traverse City, Michigan or the U.S. Every corner you turn is so exciting, because it’s something new that you’re learning or seeing,” Labonte said. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Tess Tarchak-Hiss
Tess Tarchak-Hiss, Section Editor, Page Designer
Tess Tarchak-Hiss is a sophomore in her second year of newspaper. She is currently a journalist and chose to take this class to improve her AP writing skills, and because she has an interest in journalism. In her free time, Tess likes to roller skate, play guitar, and watch movies.  
Tessa Gryc
Tessa Gryc, Podcast Coordinator, Photographer
Tessa is a freshman and this is her first year on newspaper as a reporter. She is taking newspaper because she likes to be involved in the community and be aware of current events. In her free time she likes to read, volunteer, and make pottery. She is especially interested in early american history and government.

Comments (0)

All The Occidentalist Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *