Students prepare to travel abroad next year


A representative from Education First Tours informs parents and students about the upcoming trip to Spain for juniors and seniors.

Jessica Commisso , Assistant News Editor

During spring break next year, the flamenco dancing and paella that students ordinarily only read about in textbooks will become a tangible reality. For nine days, students will walk through the grand boulevards of Madrid and the narrow paths of Barcelona, with Spain as their classroom and the Spanish language their main mode of communication.

“I think this trip will be really fun, especially since my friends will be there with me,” said junior Emily Hack. “I’ve taken Spanish since middle school and it’s really exciting that we will be able to see everything we have learned about and use the language with people in Spain.”

A meeting for parents and students on May 30 informed next year’s seniors and juniors of the plans for the trip to Spain. Spanish teacher Ms. Debra Korba-Rapp, who first developed the idea for this trip, and an Education First Tours representative presented details about the itinerary and requirements for this nine-day excursion.

EF Tours, a company that organizes educational trips abroad for school groups, offers student groups a package with one fee including airfare, hotel accommodations, transportation, breakfast and dinner, a full time EF tour director, guided sightseeing, entrance fees to attractions, and all inclusive insurance. Students have the options to pay this fee in monthly installments, or all at once.

The standard EF Tours Spain trip is an eight-day trip, including the arrival and departure days. Ms. Korba-Rapp decided to add a one day extension to visit the Spanish city of Segovia. Students will leave on Thursday evening before spring break and return on the following Friday.

The trip includes walking tours of Barcelona and Madrid, guided tours of La Sagrada Familia, Montjuic Hill, Barrio Gótico, Barcelona Cathedral, and Puerta de Sol, and art and dance workshops. These activities are all covered by the single fee and students only need extra money for their own spending, lunch and tips.

“Students should plan on doing a lot of walking, hiking and sight-seeing,” said Ms. Korba-Rapp. “We plan on going to Barcelona first and then head to Madrid after a few days. We have organized to take flamenco lessons as well as a glassblowing lesson.”

In order to go on the trip, students must be seniors or juniors taking a Spanish course with an overall B average in school as well as a B average in their language class. Additionally, students cannot have any disciplinary record up to the day of the trip.

“Going to Spain will be a great opportunity for me to speak Spanish and to interact with the native people,” said junior Emily Hirooka. “I hope to become more comfortable in speaking the language and broaden my communication skills. I think it will be an amazing experience since I have always wanted to go there.”

The school has run very few international trips since travel regulations became stricter after 9/11. Writing a proposal to the Board of Education was only part of the extensive process for trip approval.

The Board of Education approved the trip and registration is now open to students. As one chaperone is required for every six students, the trip is capped at 26 students with priority given to seniors. Ms. Korba-Rapp and her husband will chaperone, and they will add other chaperones accordingly.

“Before 9/11, we used to have frequent trips abroad,” said Ms. Korba-Rapp. “We have requested to take trips outside of the country, but every request was denied. We have not taken any trips in eleven years, and it is something that I think our school should start doing again. We have waited so long for this opportunity to come, and I am extremely excited to be part of it.”

In Spain, students will be exposed to the architecture, food, and culture. Not only will students take group tours, but they will have free time to go shopping and interact with locals.

“Traveling to Spain will be such a great learning experience,” said Ms. Korba-Rapp. “Many things that we have in America, people in Spain do not, which will show the students not to take anything that you have for granted. The incredible feeling that you get exploring Spain is something you cannot put into words.”