By Andrew Atallah ’10
This past summer on May 31, Brophy sent 10 students on a cultural immersion trip to Santa Fe, Argentina.
As every school year ends, many students think about the freedom and relaxation that accompanies summer.
A select few, however, have the opportunity to travel to another country and immerse themselves into another culture, learning many new things about that country and quite often about themselves.
Brophy faculty members Mr. John Damaso ’97 and Mrs. Catharine Steffens supervised and accompanied the students on their trip.
After flying to Argentina, the group took a six hour bus ride through the Argentine countryside to Santa Fé, which all together amounted to a 32-hour travelling experience.
Once in Santa Fé, the students stayed with host families who had sent a few of their children to stay with Brophy students the previous spring.
The school the Brophy group attended in Santa Fé is called El Colegio de la Imaculada Concepción and is more than 500 years old.
For the next 30 days the students went to class at the school, often being the only English speaker in a room full of Spanish speaking students, and were expected to complete some homework assignments, just like a normal student.
Brophy senior Andrew Anderson ’10 said that on his first day at school, he had to give two full length Spanish presentations in front of his newfound classmates.
“In Santa Fé the teachers don’t just teach in one school, they teach in multiple schools so its very common to not have a teacher and just have a free period,” said Brophy senior Karl Heiland ’10.
This allowed the Brophy students to spend a lot of time interacting with the Argentine students learning more Spanish than a normal language class would allow.
“It is much more difficult to understand the kids, they speak much faster than anything we have heard,” Anderson said.
Every Wednesday during the trip the students also dedicated themselves to community service and travelled to a slum where they cleaned graffiti from the walls. This service earned the students half of their Junior Justice Project.
The students were also there for the month leading up to the elections in Argentina and watched many political television shows in Spanish with their host families.
The families themselves mostly lived in a mix of closely spaced houses and apartments, strikingly different from Arizona.
“My favorite part (of the trip) was being able to experience the normal day-to-day activities of another culture,” Anderson said.
“The best thing for me was just how open and welcoming the people were,” Heiland said.
Brophy students interested in this immersion experience can sign up for this trip to go on it this summer.
“We have plans to host five to 10 of their students and two teachers in February 2010, and will hopefully send 10 of our students with two teachers in June,” Mr. Damaso said.