SOUTHINGTON — Local students and their families welcomed Costa Rican students with a potluck dinner at Southington High School on Thursday night, the start of a two-week stay for the foreign students who will play host in July to their Southington counterparts.
More than a dozen Costa Rican students arrived late Wednesday night and spent Thursday with their host families. Dozens of Southington and Costa Rican students along with teachers from both schools ate together in the evening.
Students from Teresa Curtis’ Spanish class and their families will host the Costa Rican students for the next two weeks. When it’s their turn in July, Southington students will stay with the families of the students they hosted.
“The purpose is to create relationships with their students,” Curtis said. “We want our students and their students to take part in the cultures in this experience.”
The foreign students are from Alajuela, a city outside the capital of San Jose. They’re from a bilingual school and have been learning English for their entire academic careers according to Curtis.
Sam Baleshiski, a sophomore, said the English of her assigned student, Rosa, was “definitely” better than her Spanish and that communicating hasn’t been a problem. Baleshiski, who wants to be a Spanish translator, is looking forward to the July trip and has already planned some activities with Rosa.
Sydney Bradshaw had a video chat with her student, Jose, and his family before he came to the United States. She’s also looking forward to the trip to Costa Rica on the second round of the exchange program.
“It’s going to be really exciting to be immersed in a different culture,” Bradshaw said.
On some days, the exchange students will follow their host families around and experience what everyday life is like in the United States. On other days, they’ll attend Southington High School and shadow their host siblings, Curtis said. In addition to the daily routine, there are trips planned to New York City, Boston, New Haven, Hartford and Powder Ridge.
In setting up the exchange, Curtis said Costa Rican school officials said their students would be interested in doing “something snow related” since they’ll be in the country for the winter. They also wanted to see some of the nearby major cities while in the country.
“We’re really excited about being able to bring this program to Southington, to make connections with our Costa Rican counterparts,” Curtis said.
Board of Education Chairman Brian Goralski said he’s proud of the work that’s done in the schools but said that the cultural education opportunity the exchange brings is unique and valuable.
“We can’t replicate anything you can do for us culturally,” he told the students and their teachers.
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