Community School’s exchange program with Colegio Domingo Savio in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, has been led by our Spanish teacher, Elena Isler, for over twenty years. Each year in October, we welcome approximately ten Bolivian students to our school. They are hosted by Community School families. The Bolivian students attend classes and participate in our school activities for six weeks. In the spring, several CS middle school students travel to Bolivia and stay with families in Santa Cruz, where they attend school for a month. This exchange creates a wonderful opportunity for our students to broaden their knowledge of Spanish, immerse themselves in the culture of another country, and gain confidence and independence.
What do our students say about their experience with the Bolivian exchange program?
“That morning when we landed was when I realized that we were going to have an amazing time. Right off the bat, every single student participating in the exchange, along with their families and Maria Luisa, a teacher at the school, was waiting for us just outside of the custom. Over the next month, our lives became some of the most exciting lives in Bolivia or in the world.” Charles
“If you visited Bolivia as a tourist you would never get to experience most of the things we did while staying with our families. Seeing how kids my age live in a different country is really interesting. In a lot of ways they are very similar to us, but in many ways they are different. They are definitely more polite; my manners definitely improved.” Zoe
“I learned words that are applied to actual situations and conversations rather than strictly the words we learn in the classroom. I got to use what I know to have mostly fluent conversations with my friends and my [Bolivian] family, and I could understand most of what was being said when two people had a conversation. My Spanish speaking ability grew so much in such a short time.” Erika
“I felt so prepared and ready for the experience ahead. Then I arrived in Bolivia and all my expectations were changed. At home things were awkward for about five days because I was still in the daze where I thought I knew no Spanish. Then Elena started to push me to talk to them. I am so grateful she made me because it brought me closer to my family, and now they are my second family. This experience was amazing for me.” Harmony
“My experience in Bolivia was amazing and I will never forget it. I got better at Spanish. I got to learn words I didn’t know and expand my Spanish vocabulary. I learned more about their culture and since I was with a Japanese family, I got see a little bit of 2 cultures. I learned more about myself. I learned to be more confident in my knowledge and to freak out a little bit less.” Ani
“When I had to make the decision of whether or not I wanted to come to Bolivia, I changed my mind constantly, flip flopping back and forth between yes and no. I thought I would be really homesick, which did happen, but it was completely worth it. Now, after the trip, I wish I could go back and tell my past self to stop worrying because the trip would be absolutely amazing, and all worrying does is stop you from enjoying it as much as possible.” Morgan
“My trip to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was amazing. I met so many new people and everyone I met was very nice. One of the best parts besides the school was the food. Some of my friends said they were tired of just meat and rice for pretty much every meal. However, I loved the food, the rice had so much flavor and the meat was delicious. I could eat that food for the rest of my life and never get tired of it.” Ryley
“If you were to tell me that one day in my life that I would be traveling to a whole different country and go to a wonderful school [where] the architecture is beautiful, and the weather feels like you’re in Hawaii, I would’ve thought that you were a crazy person. I have missed it every second ever since I got back. This exchange and the last exchange changed my life completely.” Kevin
“My time in Santa Cruz was amazing. I absolutely loved staying with Alvaro, Eduardo, and their wonderful families. I am so lucky to have two awesome Bolivian sisters…as well as three amazing parents. Santa Cruz is a place of friendship, learning and fun. I will never forget my time there.” Henry