The Weber School Spanish Immersion rang in the new decade with its fifth travel program. Abandoning the conventional teen-tour model and allowing Spanish language, authentic culture, and Jewish roots to shape transformational itineraries off the beaten path of tourism, Weber students finish these programs having changed as Jews and citizens of this country and world.
The Weber School Spanish Immersion rang in the new decade with its fifth travel program. Abandoning the conventional teen-tour model and allowing Spanish language, authentic culture, and Jewish roots to shape transformational itineraries off the beaten path of tourism, Weber students finish these programs having changed as Jews and citizens of this country and world. During the first semester, students immerse themselves in twenty hours of coursework studying a country's variation of Spanish, culture, and connection to Judaism. "This pre-trip study isn't traditional learning," remarks Olivia Rocamora, Spanish Immersion Program Coordinator. "Just like we go outside the four walls of the classroom when we travel, we do the same during the first semester. Through cooking, dancing, college lectures, and gatherings in faculty and student homes, we make this learning interactive and meaningful every step of the way." By the time students step foot in the country of study, they are equipped with the Spanish and cultural context needed to explore a country beyond a tourist lens and through its people.
This year's program to Northern Spain challenged students to step out of their comfort zones and speak Spanish constantly to locals through shared meals and activities. Moving from rural to urban Spain, all were able to value both the quiet, majestic nature of pueblo life and the hustle and bustle of the capital. Perhaps the most powerful moment of the trip was meeting Javito, the only Jew left in a small town in the heart of Catholic Spain called Tordesillas, and experiencing the passion for G-d and faith that comes when you work to preserve your Judaism. "I am not a fearful servant of G-d. I am his friend. I don't pray to G-d. I talk to Him," Javito told the group. With the eventual graduation into a world less Jewish than Weber, Javito inspired the group to develop a faith and love for Judaism that will last even if you're the only one.
"I cannot stress enough that this program is not simply a school trip," Ms. Rocamora explains. "When you are willing to roll up your sleeves and work hard to speak the language of a people and embrace the rhythms of their culture, people open up and let you into their worlds, and life-changing moments happen." Ms. Rocamora shared a quote from a Weber alumnus who reached out to her during college and whom she feels illustrates why Weber's mission is at the center of this program: "I can't tell you how many times I have thought about Cuba and Spain by myself in college and how often I have talked about it with others. Good teachers teach the material. Great teachers shape students forever. Something that has been embedded in my brain after the lessons I have learned throughout these life-changing trips and my first year in college has been that most people believe that success leads to happiness, but really happiness leads to success."
The Spain Program students will be sharing their personal experiences with the community on Friday, March 27 at 9:45am during Kehilla.Click here to read Ms. Rocamora's daily blog chronicling this year's Spanish Immersion Program trip to Spain.
Ms. Rocamora looks forward to the 2020-2021 school year, as she is planning both adult and student trips to Cuba. For more information on future travel, please email her at email@example.com.