MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Local high school students will soon have a new way to practice their foreign language skills.
For the first time, the Spanish program at Marquette Senior High School will participate in a school to school exchange with students and teachers from Costa Rica.
MSHS Spanish Teacher Katelynn Jensen says plans and fundraising for the Costa Rican Exchange program began back in 2018.
"All of the fundraising that we're doing is for hosting the students that are coming to visit us. When we do the travel portion, our students who are traveling will be paying their own way," Jensen announced.
18 Costa Rican students and 4 teachers will visit Marquette from December 26 of this year through mid-January 2020.
For those 22 Costa Ricans, winter in Upper Michigan will create a unique and memorable cross-section of Americana.
"Those Costa Rican students are going to be seeing snow for the first time. They’re going to be eating pasties for the first time. They're going to be seeing a hockey game, touring Lambeau Field," Jensen declared.
Our visiting students will also spend several weeks in the summer of 2020 immersed in the culture of the Costa Rican town of Guápiles.
MHSH Junior, Julia King, says while she’s looking forward to taking in the Costa Rican countryside, she also has some reservations.
"I'm nervous about the food. Just getting to see how they eat and what their normal every day food is compared to ours," King confessed.
Naturally, the exchange will also be about having meaningful conversations with one another. MSHS Sophomore, Alexis Adams, and her family are looking forward to hosting their Costa Rican student. But as Adams states, those conversations will be accompanied by a good deal of effort from both sides.
"That's going to be a little tricky because I haven't mastered Spanish. So it's going to take a bit of getting used to actually holding the conversation and not keeping in script like in class. We kind of have an idea about what we're going to say," Adams asserted.
Thanks to social media, those immersive conversations are already occurring for some students, like King.
"I've actually already talked to him through social media already. And when we get confused with the other language, we just switch back to ours and we've been able to keep up the conversation pretty well," King reasoned.
MSHS Junior, Melanie Gilliam, hopes those relationships will continue long after the exchange is over.
"It is a lot of money, but with the fundraising and all you gain from the experience, it’s worth it. The friendships you build, they don't seem like friends. They become your family," Gilliam stated.
Wednesday, Ms. Jensen's students spent much of the day playing a review game highlighting aspects of their daily routine.
"That's going to be very relevant to our students who are hosting as they have another person in their house and they need to figure out how's my morning routine going to change,” Jensen proposed.
You can also help our local students with their fundraising goal of raising $8,000.
"So far we've raised $5,000. So we are really close to our goal. We are selling coffee from Costa Rica, from a family-owned company called Down to Earth. We'll be selling that in the community. We're collecting Econo receipts which can be dropped off at the MSHS main office and we're also taking donations. Any donations made to the MSHS Spanish Club will go directly to our cost for hosting,” Jensen concluded.