Twenty four Costa Rican exchange students and their two teachers spent two weeks visiting with Shaker High School students last month. The students attend a German high school, Colegio Humboldt, in San José, Costa Rica and are fluent in Spanish, English, and German.
Prior to arriving in Latham, the group spent four days in New York City. Once the Costa Rican students arrived at Shaker on Monday, Sept. 23, the two groups of students experienced a wide range of fun, fall activities including pep rally, spirit week, the homecoming football game and dance, marching in the homecoming parade with Spanish Club, apple picking, visits to Target and the malls, bowling, bonfires, and more. The group also took a tour of the capital building and the museum in Albany.
The homecoming football game was the first time many of the Costa Rican students had ever seen a football game as it is not a sport that is played in Costa Rica. Before the game, their teacher, Elmer Garita, a physical education teacher in Costa Rica, taught the Costa Rican students about the game of football entirely in the Spanish language. Our students participated in the lessons as well, bringing the two cultures together.
“This has been such an amazing once in a life time experience,” Shaker junior Bryn Fecko said. “I built amazing relationships with people that I will cherish and keep forever!”
“Hosting an exchange partner was one of the best things I’ve done because not only did I get to learn about Costa Rica, but I also learned about America and what makes it so different from the rest of the world, Shaker senior Justine Hulbert said.
In addition to all of the local activities the students enjoyed, they also went to Boston for a day trip where they toured Fenway Park, walked the Freedom Trail, shopped and had lunch in Quincy market and took a historical tour of Harvard University.
During the school day, the Costa Rican students shadowed their host students’ classes at Shaker to see what typical days of school look like. They even participated in German lessons, as well as Spanish classes.
“It is wonderful that our Shaker High School students are able to view their own home, high school, and culture through new eyes as we host our guests and allow them to participate in our day-to-day life here in upstate New York,” High School Spanish Teacher Jessie Morgan said. “I believe that it gives our students a newfound appreciation for all that we have. When we travel to Costa Rica our students will gain yet another perspective.”
In February, the two groups of students will be reunited, as the Shaker students head to Costa Rica for two weeks.
“I can tell why they use ‘pura vida’ as their country’s saying because all of them were laid back and lived life in the moment,” Shaker senior Grace Holodak said. “Sometimes I am constantly going, going, going, but I learned from them to take a step back and take each moment one step at a time.”