The 2023-2024 Spanish Exchange Program is Back and Better Than Ever

Camryn Evans, Staff Writer

After a 2.5 year hiatus due to COVID-19, the Spanish Exchange Program will be making its much awaited return in the winter and early spring of the 2023-2024 school year at SPFHS. As the programs coordinator, Spanish teacher Marie Concepcion held the first interest meeting about the trip this past Thursday, April 27, and reviewed information pertinent to the exchange. 


“I’ve never had an experience where someone said they would never want to do it again, or that it wasn’t an experience they weren’t going to cherish for the rest of their lives,” said Concepcion. “I do it because I love it, and I feel that exchange programs are one of the best experiences someone can have while learning a language.”


The trip to Spain is currently scheduled for January 11-20 2024, while the Spanish students would visit America sometime in March*. In September 2023, Concepcion will collect a deposit from her students, and currently encourages students to make their decisions early in summer, to make sure they’re able to gather the sufficient funds and consult with parents or guardians. 


The total cost of the exchange will be between $1700 and $2000, depending on the number of students attending, which is limited to 20. This price covers all events in the itinerary, including trips to museums, restaurants, and in Barcelona and Madrid. 


“Before the trip you are assigned a pen-pal who then is a part of your host family, and in this way it’s different from a regular trip because you get to see the country from your penpal’s eyes,” said Concepcion. “If you’re wondering whether you have what it takes to be eligible to participate; you need to be willing to host your penpal when you return from Spain, you have to be able to reciprocate that.”


During most of the trip in Spain, students will be staying with their penpals, except during their days in Madrid, as the school that coordinates the trip with SPFHS, Col•legi Sagrada Familía, is located in Barcelona. When the Spanish students visit the United States, it’s the SPFHS’ students responsibility to host them and take them along on their planned activities. 


The Spanish exchange trip is one that provides lots of insight and information about the language and culture that Spanish-learning students see in photos or read about in their classrooms; yet now they’re able to experience this other world in the flesh.


“As a language teacher, we always talk about cultural understanding. Instead of me saying ‘Look at this page or look at this video’, I can say ‘Let me just show you.’ You feel it, you smell it, you eat it; it’s a sensory experience.” Concepcion said. “It’s a real way to learn a language. [Because of the trip] you can be more confident in your skills as a Spanish speaker than what you can do [in school] in a whole year.”


Concepcion is the program coordinator and is planning another interest meeting about the program in mid-May, in room 282. If you have any further questions concerning the exchange or its application process you can reach her at [email protected]


*not all dates are certain and are subject to change span drive