Monday morning we arrived in Quito, Ecuador. The city seemed to be dead, no sounds, or people in sight, but then again it was 1 AM in the morning. When we awoke, we were able to see that our assumption of a ghostly city was just that. Though it was only about 8 AM in the morning, the people of the city were lively, and everything around us was colorful.
Over the past two days, Rodrigo, Erika, Anne and I made our ways down the steep hills and through the narrow, busy streets of Bariloche to visit two of our Patagonian partner schools.
We were warmly welcomed on the first morning by administrators and teachers from all three partner schools, showered with greetings, kisses on cheeks, and feasted with pastries and sandwiches. We shared our ideas and dreams, constraints and concerns, in building a shared program. How many students could visit at a time? How much Spanish should Dublin students have had before coming? Could we design exchanges around themes like environmental studies or history? What role should an accompanying teacher play? What courses are most important at Dublin for Argentinian students? Could we also exchange teachers, and if so, for how long? These questions and more launched us into classroom visits.
That was the question many faculty members were asking us as we frantically worked to finish up comments, grades, faculty contracts, magazines, and mailings before Rodrigo Villaamil, Sarah Doenmez, Anne Mackey, and I boarded a plane to Argentina. We were going to Bariloche Argentina as part of the EE Ford Spanish program to continue building our partnership between Dublin School and three private schools there - Instituto Primo Capraro, Colegio San Patricio, and Woodville in Bono Vince. Twenty-four hours after leaving campus, we found ourselves in morning rush hour traffic in Buenos Aires and two hours after that we were sitting at Cafe Clara in Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires. Sleepy but excited, our ideas and questions surrounding Dublin’s Spanish program flowed freely, and the possibilities these partnerships might offer became more obvious. We knew why we were there.
As a part of our expanding Spanish program, Dublin has been working with three schools located in the City of Bariloche, Argentina to create cross-cultural opportunities for our students. We have partnered with three private schools in Bariloche: the Woodville School, Colegio San Patricio, and Instituto Primo Capraro. All three schools have previously created cross-cultural exchanges in Aspen, Colorado and we have modeled our work on this prior experience.
In February, six students (two from each school) and a teacher spent three weeks as part of the Dublin community. They lived life as Dublin students, going to Morning Meeting, attending a full class schedule and participating in sports and evening activities. They brought a lot of life and energy to the Dublin campus and developed lasting friendships throughout the community.
Today we took a day trip to see Nerja, its really cool prehistoric caves, and the beach. The magnificent clear blue water felt great after a few days of 100-degree heat!