Spring break exchange trips offer cultural immersion


Henry Benton

TRAVEL FRENZY. More than 50 students in total will travel to Taiwan, Paris and La Rochelle or Greece for spring break exchange trips.

Krishita Dutta, Opinion Editor

As the coronavirus pandemic is subsiding and global travel is again an option, U-High students are able to embark on exchange trips for the first time since 2019. Excited to finally step out of their comfort zone with their peers to explore cultures across the world, students are grateful for the experiences coming their way.

The world languages department has three exchange trips during spring break. Fourteen students will travel to Taiwan March 4-17; 11 French students will travel to Paris and La Rochelle, France, March 4-10; and 29 Latin and Greek students will travel to Greece March 8-16. 

Latin teacher Fran Spaltro is helping coordinate the Greece trip and has observed the process for her colleagues to plan the other trips. She said the major differences between the international trips this year compared to previous years are the adjustments to COVID-19 protocols and the increased interest in international travel.

“We contract out with educational chapter companies who book hotels, flights, entrances to museums, so that bit of it is pretty straightforward,” Ms. Spaltro said. “The big difference, though, lies in the number of students. We have around 50 students going across all the trips, so clearly everyone’s hungry to travel.”

Ms. Spaltro said the trips now require multiple chaperones to be well versed in COVID-19 protocols, which differ across regions. She said all the changes make it slightly difficult, but still an exciting process to adjust back into.

“Since we haven’t done it in a while, we forgot about a lot of little details that we need to take care of,” she said, “so it kind of feels like we’re doing this for the first time 

Latin student Kunal Gangwani, a senior, is excited to have school trips after the pandemic.  

“If you had told me a year ago — when keep in mind we were still wearing masks — that I would be able to travel to Greece with my peers with the school, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Kunal said. “It’s also just really amazing that our school even gets these opportunities, because I think the best way to learn about a culture is to be immersed in it.”

When traveling internationally, U-High’s French and Chinese students get to visit their exchange students who they hosted earlier this school year, which is what sophomore Lydia Frost is most excited about.

“I am most looking forward to seeing my exchange student, Lily, again since we had a lot of fun when she visited Chicago,” Lydia said. “I am also looking forward to the food, and though we will be attending classes at a bilingual school in Taiwan, I hope to be able to further my Chinese there.”

French student Millie Norton, a sophomore, is also looking forward to the opportunities to explore France. She will stay with a host family in La Rochelle and then spend four days in Paris.

Millie said, “I look forward to traveling with my friends, and though I have been to France before, it was when I was quite young so I am excited to explore the country.”