The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

[STAFF EDITORIAL] Welcome Colegio Malvar students with open hearts and minds

As+the+Spanish+exchange+program+resumes+for+the+first+time+since+pre-covid%2C+the+SPA+community+should+welcome+visiting+students+with+intention+and+warmth.+
Annika Kim
As the Spanish exchange program resumes for the first time since pre-covid, the SPA community should welcome visiting students with intention and warmth.

100% staff agreement

¡Hola, y bienvenidos a SPA!

In English, this translates to “Hello, and welcome to SPA!” These words radiate warmth, hospitality and friendliness, and simply saying them can make someone feel welcomed into the school community. Small acts of kindness like this are easy, and everyone in the upper school should give them a try as we welcome the Spanish exchange students from Colegio Malvar in Spain.

Colegio Malvar is a bilingual colegio concertado (similar to a charter school in the United States) located in Arganda del Rey. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, exchanges between SPA and Colegio Malvar took place numerous times across over 14 years of partnership. Now, as health and safety concerns have returned to near-normal, the exchanges are back up and running. This year, students from Spain will arrive on Thursday for two weeks of living in the Twin Cities, learning at school, and experiencing American culture. In the beginning of June, host students from the upper school will travel to Spain for their own exchange trip.

None of the current students in the upper school have experienced an exchange during their time at this campus. This year’s exchange is a new chance for everyone to interact with and learn from the Spanish students. Though some of their time will be spent with host families and away on field trips/additional programming, the Colegio Malvar students will be on campus often to attend classes, practice with sports teams and engage in community events. It it up to the upper school community to ensure they feel welcome.

In order to cultivate a welcoming community and make these two weeks rewarding ones, all students in the upper school have a crucial responsibility to reach out to the Spanish visitors.

Although creating new friendships and talking to unfamiliar people can be difficult and even nerve-wracking, this exchange provides a rare opportunity to form bonds with other high school students from across the globe. In order to cultivate a welcoming community and make these two weeks rewarding ones, all students in the upper school have a crucial responsibility to reach out to the Spanish visitors.

Reaching out can be something small and simple like giving one of the exchange students a place to sit at lunch, including them in group work during class and offering to answer any questions they may have about SPA. On the other hand, reaching out can also mean inviting the students to social events or hangouts outside of school in order to get to know them on a deeper, more personal level. Regardless of how we each choose to engage with the Colegio Malvar students, every action makes a difference.

Another important aspect to acknowledge about the Spanish exchange is that we all have so much to learn from the visiting students. It’s uncommon for kids in high school to get the chance to interact with others their age from a country 4,300 miles away. So, take this opportunity to ask questions and learn something new about life in Spain. What are important aspects of Spanish culture? What foods do they eat and what traditions do they have? What is the climate like? What does a typical school day look like?

However, we also must remember that asking questions does not mean treating the exchange students like strange foreigners. They are not under a microscope for us to observe. Be cautious not to bombard the visitors with overwhelming or insensitive questions, but instead, offer the same respect and thoughtfulness we would give to each other. The upper school community should feel like a safe and welcoming temporary home for the Spanish students.

These upcoming two weeks are a gift to be celebrated and should not be taken for granted. Working together to establish connections and learn from one another, Colegio Malvar and SPA can join hands for a successful and meaningful exchange—the first in several years. ¡Vamos!

This story was updated Sept. 18.

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About the Contributors
Annika Kim, Illustrator
My name is Annika Kim (she/her). I work as the Illustrator for the Rubicon, and this is my second year officially on staff. At school, I work on Iris Art & Lit magazine and act in the theatre productions. I love animation and want to combine computer science with art to tell a story. I can be reached at [email protected].

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