Trips offer foreign immersion

By Caitie Benell and Elana Zeltser

Middle and upper school students will snorkel with stingrays in Tahiti, visit a volcano in Costa Rica and view picturesque scenes in China over spring break. The jazz band will also travel to Argentina, and there may be a trip to New Orleans. For the first time, students can sign up online.

Chaperoned by Chinese teachers Qinru Zhou and Binbin Wei, the trip to China is from March 27 to April 7. Students will spend 10 days in Beijing and stay at the High School Affiliated to Beijing Normal University. Every day students will take four-hour classes divided into spoken Chinese, taught by Harvard-Westlake teachers, and culture and history, taught by the school’s master teachers. After Beijing, students will stop in Hangzhou, Suzhou and Shanghai.

From March 22 to April 6, a group of students will travel to Tahiti for a marine biology and cultural anthropology experience. The students will snorkel, scuba dive, kayak and participate in Tahitian dancing.

On the Costa Rica trip, students should expect four-hour classes and two hours of community service six days a week. Each student will stay with a host family and visit popular sites around the Heredia area such as a butterfly site, a volcano and a number of restaurants. The group will also spend a weekend at a beach resort and will go whitewater rafting.

“I love to see how much progress we make in two weeks,” said Upper school foreign language teacher Javier Zaragoza. “I wish we had three. The kids come back with enormous confidence and noticeably stand out in the classroom.”

The Trip Committee is also considering a community service trip to New Orleans, but nothing is definite yet.

“It is not that New Orleans doesn’t still need our help – they certainly do – but there may be other places that need it more,” Father J. Young said.