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Spanish Department heads south: Administration confirms educational trip to Argentina for summer 2018

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This summer, nine CESJDS students will travel to Argentina for a one-week trip to Buenos Aires. This trip is meant to give students cultural exposure and teach them what Jewish life is like in a Latin American country, according to Spanish teacher and World Languages Department Chair Silvia Kurlat Ares.

On June 17, the Monday after finals, the students, along with Kurlat Ares and Spanish teacher Deby Kijak, will depart to Argentina. The trip will be conducted through a tour company which has assisted in putting together an itinerary. The trip will cost $3600 plus a visa fee.

“I think the most important thing for me and Ms. Kijak is that our students will have an opportunity to look at a Latin American country through Jewish life,” Kurlat Ares said.

Students taking Spanish have attempted to convince the administration to plan a trip to Argentina multiple times, according to Kurlat Ares.

Juniors Zoe Reichbach and Seth Eisenstein were the most recent students to suggest the trip. Beginning in the 2016-17 school year, Reichbach and Eisenstein led a group of students in an effort to create the Argentina trip, which was eventually approved.

Reichbach was approached by Eisenstein about the possibility of a trip shortly after students from Argentina visited CESJDS last year. She said that in high school, the Spanish curriculum becomes less focused on the mechanics of the language and more focused on Latin American culture, and the trip is an appropriate extension of that.

“There’s only so much you can do in a classroom,” Reichbach said. “There’s so many benefits to being immersed in a Spanish-speaking country that you really can’t get anywhere else.”

Art museums and other Latin American institutions that showcase Argentinian culture are some of the destinations that Reichbach would love to visit in order to see how it is different and similar to what exists in the Greater Washington community. Although the exact itinerary for the trip has not yet been set, Kurlat Ares hopes to visit both common tourist attractions and neighborhoods, which were chosen for their rich historic backgrounds and prominent architecture.

One day on the trip will be dedicated to specifically exploring the Jewish community in Argentina. Students will be visiting the Museum of Jewish Life, one of the earliest built synagogues in Latin America and the tenements where Jewish immigrants used to live.

Kurlat Ares said that she is excited to “provide the kids a chance to understand that there is a vibrant Jewish life in places that aren’t Israel and the United States.”

The students will also visit a Jewish school in Argentina, where they will interact with students and gain an understanding of the daily life of a teenage Jew in Latin America. The organizers also hope that each student will be hosted by a different family for a night, so that students will be able to immerse themselves in the community.

Sophomore Micah Gritz opted to go on the trip because he does not get to travel much and he wanted to experience a different culture.

“I’m looking forward to being able to practice my Spanish because I don’t get to practice it much outside of school, so I think that will be a great opportunity,” Gritz said.

High School Principal and Associate Head of School Dr. Marc Lindner was the main administrator involved in the creation of this trip. In mid-February, he emailed an inquiry about interest for the trip, and upon hearing from a sufficient number of students, sent out further information so that students could sign up for the trip.

Lindner believes that while the trip may improve the students’ knowledge of the Spanish language, the cultural immersion is also an important factor.

“I’m really excited for the cultural experience that the kids are going to have to see a foreign country that is Spanish speaking and to experience all that is different and unique about Argentina and the city of Buenos Aires,” Lindner said.

This story was featured in the Volume 35, Issue 5 print edition of The Lion’s Tale, published on March 22, 2018.

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