From Monday, April 8 to Wednesday, April 10, 12 students from Venezuela visited the KO campus and attended Spanish classes—as well as various other KO classes—with their hosts. The students, who stay in a nearby hotel in Hartford, were grouped with KO students who brought them to classes and gave them a tour of the school. This program is just another extension of the KO Spanish department’s efforts to give students a deeper understanding of the language.
Spanish teacher Brenda Semmelrock started this program 18 years ago, after she was inspired by her own visit to Venezuela. This year, seniors and juniors in Spanish teacher’s Lynn Schork’s and Juan Martinez’s classes participated in hosting the students. “We assign them to Spanish 4, 4H, 5 and 5 AP classes, as that is a good level for our students to practice Spanish and for them to practice English,” Ms. Schork said. This grouping was also good as all the students were then close in age. “They are all seniors graduating this year so it is nice to connect with students from KO who are about their age,” Ms. Schork added.
Classes were broken up into groups of four and are each assigned one Venezuelan student. Junior Juanita Asaphokai explained that her group was just showing them what life is like at KO. “We also get the whole class together and we just talk to them and we asked them a bunch of questions,” Juanita said.
Senior Sydni Jett enjoyed bringing the Venezuelan students to her classes. “In some classes they participated which was fun,” she said. “The hardest part was making sure they were comfortable in class even though they didn’t know what was going on.”
Juanita said she thought hosting the Venezuelan students was a great way to work on her Spanish. “It’s so cool because I’ve got to experience speaking Spanish and see how limited my language abilities are,” she joked. “I think our language department is focused on not just teaching people language on paper but also incorporating cultural aspects to it.”
The trip, which was organized by the Guayamuri School teachers in Venezuela, doesn’t stop at KO. The Venezuelan students also visit New York City and Boston. Times Square, Central Park, and Rockefeller Center are just some of the sights that they’ve experienced while visiting the United States. In Connecticut, they went to Six Flags and a trampoline park, as well as attending an ice cream social with KO students on Tuesday, April 9, followed by ice skating in West Hartford. “It’s a school trip so it’s an opportunity the school gives to us and it’s really fun to come here, it’s different here,” a visiting Venezuelan student said.
Aside from sightseeing, visiting students also went to the mall and various stores, and bought hygiene supplies and medications (such as Advil) to bring back to Venezuela. “They’ll be here all day, going basically drugstore shopping,” Ms. Schork said. “They don’t have any toothpaste, no like hygiene products, stuff like that,” she explained.
The program seems to be enjoyed by both Venezuelan and KO students alike and will be continued in the years to come. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Juanita said.