6 sophomores choose different paths

Matthew Chupack (Italy)

Buongiorno is the only Italian word that Matthew Chupack ’11 knows, but he’s sure to learn more next year as one of three students from the class of 2011 that is attending the School Year Abroad program in Viterbo, Italy.

Chupack will stay with a family in Viterbo and take Ancient History, Ancient Art History, Latin Seminar, beginner Greek, English, and Italian.

“I guess I was just really tired of the grind at H-W,” he said. “Learn the unit for a week, then take a test, then learn more, then test again… etc. I kind of wanted to do something different for junior year.”

“My first choice would be to live with a family with kids my age and my second would be living with older kids or younger kids,” Chupack said.

He said he isn’t too worried about any potential problems reintegrating into the school community as a senior.

“I guess some people will change a little bit, but I figure all I’ll miss is a really stressful junior year,” he said.

Tori Hill (Italy)

Sophomore Tori Hill will be completing her junior year in Viterbo, Italy. Even though Hill does not speak any Italian, she is still excited to attend.

“I found out about the School Year Abroad program through the video they showed in my Spanish class,” Hill said.

Traveling to Italy will be Hill’s first time leaving the country.

The longest she has ever been away for was eight weeks. Several of her friends will be visiting her while she is away. Nicolai Sisteron ’11 said he would visit her during Christmas break.

Two sophomores, Matthew Chupack and Emma Peterson, will be attending with Hill for their junior year.

Hill has been friends with Peterson since second grade, and has been friends with Chupack since seventh grade.

In Italy, Hill will be taking Latin, Italian, English, Math, Art History, and Ancient History.

Emma Peterson (Italy)

Emma Peterson ’11 decided a long time ago that she wanted to study abroad; the only question was where. Now a Latin III Honors student, she decided that Italy was a logical destination.

“This year, I really started to enjoy Latin,” Peterson said. “After watching the SYA video during class at the beginning of the year, I got an application for me and my best friend Tori Hill.  We both jumped at the incredible opportunity of getting to study a year abroad in Italy, living in an Italian family’s home.”

Peterson said she is nervous about the second semester when all courses will be taught in Italian. She expects to be fully reacquainted with Harvard-Westlake when she returns her senior year.

“I will continue to study Italian,” she said, “and although I might feel disconnected socially at first, it won’t last all year. I am not worried about readjusting academically either—former SYA students that I have spoken to usually do well in their studies.”

Connor Eliot (China)

Conor Eliot ’11 will make his second trip to China next year. His first time was on the school trip last year with Chinese instructor Xinru Zhou. However, unlike the first trip, he will live there for an entire year.

Eliot has been taking Chinese at school since ninth grade. He decided to take it because he felt it would be useful later on in life. Eliot’s trip to China last year inspired him to think about taking a year abroad in China.

“What I really like about Chinese is that it is also a history-language where you learn the history of people while learning a language at the same time,” Eliot said.

“Next year I will have the really cool opportunity to live like native Chinese people.  I hope to use my Chinese in the future, whether it be for business, science or diplomacy.  I really think that there is a lack of understanding between Chinese and Americans, and I want to help bridge the gap,” Eliot said.

Jordan McSpadden (Spain)

Mediterranean Art and Spanish Journalism aren’t offered in the school curriculum but Jordan McSpadden ’11 will be taking Mediterranean Art and Spanish Journalism, while spending her junior year in Spain. She will live with a family in Zaragoza.

“[The trip] looked like an incredible way to spend my junior year and a life-changing opportunity,” said McSpadden.

She went on the trip to Cuernevaca, Mexico last year and stayed with a family that spoke very little Engish. She said, “I’m not really worried about the language barrier.”

McSpadden will take Mediterranean Art, AP Spanish, AP Spanish Literature, Precalculus, English, and Spanish Journalism. All her classes will be taught in Spanish, except English and Precalculus.

“Going to Spain will be a great way to become fluent in Spanish and gain independence,” she said.

Eli Wininger (France)

Eli Wininger ’11 will spend his junior year in Rennes, France with the School Year Abroad program. This will be Wininger’s second time to France.

Wininger’s is currently in French III Honors. He will be taking AP French Language, AP French Literature, French History, French Art and Architecture, French Society in culture, Pre Calculus, and English.

All the courses will be taught in French except Precalculus and English.

“I wanted to apply to France because I thought it would be a good experience and I would mature faster,” Wininger said.

Wininger wants to live with either a family with kids ages 12 – 18, or empty nesters. Empty nesters are parents whose kids have already grown up and moved out of the house.

“Living with empty nesters is one of my first choices because they are more experienced with kids like me. Also, I can meet their kids if they visit,” Wininger said.

This will not be Wininger’s first time staying with a host family. He has stayed with a family before when he went to live in Israel.

-Reporting by Austin Block, Jordan McSpadden, Alex Leichenger, and Catherine Wang