Wilson will have its first-ever exchange trip to Spain this February break. Organized by Spanish teacher Victor Vela, the trip will make Spain the third destination students can travel to, along with trips already offered to Italy and Denmark.
Vela originally began considering the idea of organizing an exchange trip to Spain last May, but it was formalized this year. “I started having informal conversations and check-ins with a school in Spain,” Vela said. “I reached out to one school that I knew would likely be willing to [do the exchange].”
After Spanish school Sagrado Corazón Hermanos Maristas showed interest in participating in the exchange, Vela began creating a proposal and submitting preliminary forms to get approval from DCPS. Vela’s intention was to organize the trip for a week in October of 2019, but DCPS did not approve it in time.
Despite this initial challenge, Vela eventually received initial approval from the DCPS Central Office in mid-November, even though he continues to submit forms, and will until a week before the trip. He then secured further approval from Principal Kimberly Martin, Director of Strategy and Logistics Brandon Hall, and Director of the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism Alex Wilson.
Sixteen students will fly to Madrid and make their way south to arrive in Alicante, Spain on February 13. Vela explained that the trip for Wilson students will take place in Alicante because “it is [his] hometown, [he] know[s] people there and it was easier to manage and organize everything there, like all of the activities.” Vela also added that the weather in Alicante would most likely be nicer than alternatives such as Madrid.
Similar to the other two exchange trips in Ancona, Italy and Copenhagen, Denmark, the program in Alicante will consist of students “[attending] classes with their host Spanish students,” Vela said. “[There will be] activities outside of school that will include the host students and exchange students.”
Vela had to figure out which Wilson students would attend this trip. “The [students] that showed the most interest, who were committed to the idea, came to the meetings, and did the survey in the first place [were admitted],” Vela explained.
Students enrolled in Spanish classes and juniors got priority for trip attendance, but the trip was not limited to students meeting these qualifications.
Like most other exchange trips, it is a two-way program and the students from the host school will travel to DC in April before spring break. Vela is most excited to show the students his culture and “provide the opportunity for [foreign] students to experience things first hand.”