January 27, 2013

Costa Rica students enjoy Farmington snow, chance to immerse themselves in English

Mt. Blue High School students also benefit from chance 'to see how there are all kinds of different people in the world,' says Spanish teacher Lisa Dalrymple

By Kaitlin Schroeder kschroeder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

FARMINGTON -- While locals may be tired of the frigid weather, a group of visiting Costa Rican students have been loving their first snow while on an exchange program with Mt. Blue High School.

click image to enlarge

Jean Carlos Campos, 15, of Heredia, Costa Rica, plays a game with students in Spanish class at Mt. Blue High School during a visit in Farmington recently.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

click image to enlarge

Teachers from Costa Rica toured Mt. Blue High School in Farmington Friday. They are, from left, Douglas Bolanos, 35; Laura Lopez, 31; Zileny Chaves, 45; Adriana Mesen, 22; and Xinia Vega, 50.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

The visiting 11 students, three teachers, assistant teacher and administrator from the exchange program sister school, Liceo Ing. Carlos Pascua, will be heading back to Costa Rica on Tuesday after three weeks in Maine.

Lisa Dalrymple, Spanish teacher at Mt. Blue, said the two schools have been partnering to run the program for the last ten years.

While visiting, the group went on a four-day trip to Boston, cheered at a Portland Pirates game and tried pancakes and syrup. Some of the students went ice fishing and learned to ski and skate.

The students also each gave presentations on Costa Rica for Mt. Blue Middle School and the high school.

The Costa Rican students lived with host families and the teachers lived with Mt. Blue faculty, said Dalrymple. Over the course of the program, she said the students are closely attached to each other.

"By the end, someone is always asking, 'can't they stay?'" she said.

Jessica Haley, a junior at Mt. Blue, said after meeting the visiting students she decided to go on the exchange program to Costa Rica next year.

"I can't wait to see what it's like there," she said.

Laura Lopez, an English teacher and coordinator of the program, said her main goal with the program is to give the Costa Rican students an immersive language learning experience, as well as the confidence to speak in English.

"I want them to be able to go back to Costa Rica and not be afraid to speak the language," she said.

Along with gaining language skills, Dalrymple said she wants the students to realize through these international friendships that there are cultures other than their own.

"I want them to see how there are all kinds of different people in the world," she said.

Looking around at the mixed groups of Costa Rican and American students having excited conversations, she said she also wants her students to realize how people from different cultural backgrounds are alike.

"At the end of the day, teenagers are teenagers," she said.

Kaitlin Schroeder-- 861-9252
kschroeder@mainetoday.com

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