Five houses, nine students, two chaperones and seven days stocked with experiences that are unobtainable in the United States. On June 9, 2018 nine students from Shawano High will be departing from Chicago, Illinois and arriving in Managua, Nicaragua.
This trip was offered to all students enrolled in a Spanish class at SCHS and is being organized by one of Shawano’s three Spanish teachers, Mrs. Kelly Lightner. Mrs. Lightner has previously gone to Costa Rica with students, but this will be her first time visiting Nicaragua.
Mrs. Lightner shared, “There’s a lot of reasons I keep doing these trips. I am so passionate about Spanish and the Spanish culture. I am passionate about teaching, and I’m passionate about students. So when you put the three together, I just like to take them.”
Mrs. Lightner stated that it is her passion for language that drives her to organize these trips, but she is not alone in this. The students who have committed to going to Nicaragua are doing so with many intentions, but the root of all of them is to hear and speak the language that they only hear in the classroom.
“I’ve been studying Spanish more, and I’ve been trying to speak out more in class,” said sophomore Cedar Fernandez. “I’m excited to meet the people and try talking to them, but I am a little nervous about saying something weird in Spanish.”
While in Nicaragua, students will be exposed to authentic culture, not only throughout the day, but also where they will be staying. Students will be paired up to stay with host families throughout the community, which will give them a taste of a foreign lifestyle.
Sophomore Ana Stempa shared, “Maybe I’m a little scared for the culture change: staying with the host family full of people I don’t know, who speak a language that I’m not that familiar with, yet.”
Although some students may be slightly apprehensive to being thrown into a new environment, others are opening their arms wide.
Senior Payden Buck, the only male going on the trip, explained his thoughts on staying with host families. “It’s going to be a little weird because I’m staying with a guy from another school, who I don’t know, with a host family I don’t know. It’ll be interesting!”
In addition to the excitement that witnessing pure culture will bring, Mrs. Lightner has been working diligently to plan a thrilling trip for her students. Each day is packed with activities that, for the most part, are unheard of in the United States. These activities include seeing craters, ziplining on the largest zipline in Nicaragua, visiting a cloud forest, hiking a crater trail, bargaining at the largest outdoor market in Central America and so much more.
A main attraction of this trip is the interactiveness. Mrs. Lightner has two interactive activities planned for the students, one being bargaining in Spanish at the market. The second interactive activity is the volunteer work that students will be able to participate in.
“I’m really looking forward to the volunteer activities we’ll be doing. We’ll be going out in the community to help people, and I am just really excited to visit the kids,” said sophomore Amy Quinn.
Mrs. Lightner will be accompanied by Mrs. Charmaine Schreiber, the Athletic Director at SCHS.
This trip, unlike past foreign language trips, does not have any organized fundraisers. However, many students are working hard to come up with money. Fernandez will be selling some of her artwork to financially prepare herself. Others are saving money from their jobs to help cover costs.
As the school year progresses, the time leading up to their departure date decreases, which amplifies the anticipation. In six months, students will be leaving familiarity behind to explore culture in a country 3,414.6 miles away from home.