Spanish exchange proves valuable

Published 9:06 pm Friday, December 27, 2019

A group of students from Spain visited Suffolk for a couple of weeks this fall as part of an exchange program.

The students were from private schools in Madrid “looking for another high-achieving private school on the East Coast to do an exchange,” according to Martha Maurno, a Spanish teacher at NSA who helped coordinate the program.

She received that communication back in the spring just as the school year was ending, Maurno said. It didn’t take long to find enough interest among NSA families to confirm the program could be done.

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The students from Colégio Alameda and Colégio Ábaco in Madrid were in town for about two weeks. They stayed with host families and took trips to Virginia Beach, Colonial Williamsburg and Washington, D.C., as well as toured many locations in Suffolk, including Riddick’s Folly House Museum and the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. They attended several days of classes with their host siblings at NSA and did presentations to school assemblies about life back home in Madrid.

Maurno said NSA students will participate in the other half of the exchange this spring.

“These same students are going to visit the same students that stayed with them here,” she said. “Those families take them on as one of their own, take them on excursions, house them and feed them.”

Maurno said the exchange already has been mutually beneficial.

“We mutually learned about each other’s customs and traditions, and they meshed really well with our community,” Maurno said.

The Spanish students were staying with NSA students who had taken Level 3 Spanish and up, so many of the conversations among the guests and their hosts were held in Spanish. Maurno said it was good practice for her students.

“Spaniards have a particular dialect and have verb forms they don’t necessarily have in all Spanish-speaking countries,” she noted.