Oct. 10 2017
As school based language classes begin to conclude last spring, a group of students involved in the “Amigos” program begin preparing to implement their classroom knowledge in another culture. The Amigos De Las Americas program offers students with a unique opportunity to travel abroad for a duration of time during the summer allowing students to engage in volunteer work and youth leadership in select Latin American countries.
“The best way to learn a language is through full immersion” states Mr. Newell, a Spanish teacher at Central Kitsap High School. “After spending a year in Mexico the direction and outlook on my life had totally changed, I came back with a whole language and different perception on the way we live in the United States.” Likewise, to Mr. Newell Amigos promotes the idea of full immersion by placing students in a host family to live for the duration of their stay. This allows an individual to rapidly improve their communication and language skills. “Every week abroad is is equivalent to six weeks in the classroom. When traveling in a country that speaks a language that is foreign to you it places you in a sink or swim situation and most are swimmers.” States Newell.
Senior, Ally Payne spent six weeks last summer in Leon Nicaragua whilst living with a host family. “Although increasing your Spanish is a huge asset it’s not the only valuable skill I learned during the trip.” Another large part of the Amigos program is increasing an individual’s confidence. An experience like being immersed in an unfamiliar environment helps individuals to communicate and increase their social interactions skills by providing situations day to day where applying those skills are necessary. “It’s such a different environment than the classroom especially hearing unfamiliar accents it was quite difficult in the beginning.” states Ally. “I even felt a little homesick, but the support of my host family really made it a wonderful experience I will never forget.”
If you are interested in signing up or want more information visit the Amigos De Las Americas website at “https://amigosinternational.org/” . An Amigos prerequisite is taking two years of Spanish, but the program accommodates all skill levels and encourages participation by providing meetings with activities to prepare help and individual to handle situations when abroad. “I returned with increased Spanish skills as well as a new sense of confidence and appreciation for the world we live in.” states senior Patricia Faletoi.