Hurley Students Gain Eye-Opening Lessons on Weeklong Trip to Santiago De Chile

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

Last month ten students from Hurley Elementary School were granted the opportunity to visit Santiago de Chile on a week-long excursion to a country farther south than any of the students had ever been. From fear and anxiety the night before the trip to the feeling of not wanting to leave, the students had the opportunity to grow, appreciate and understand the benefits of traveling abroad. “When would I ever have the opportunity to be in Chile again?” asked Jonathan Gonzalez, eighth grader. Being relatively new to the school, Ortega saw this opportunity as one he had to take since nothing like this was offered at his previous grammar school. The students all agreed on one blatant truth: They were treated like movie stars. The welcome the students received was one they had never really had, exhibiting the concept of being open and respectful to guests. “We felt loved by the people who picked us up,” said Yaritza Martinez, eighth grader. “They were happy and we were happy for being there.”

Being of Mexican descent, many of the students already spoke and understood Spanish. However, they acknowledged the nuances and new cultural insights. Many of them pointed out the difference in food, their Spanish accents and the Chilean hospitality as compared to their everyday life in Chicago. Not only did this give them the opportunity to step outside of their comfort zones, but the trip and experience falls in line with the importance of making each student a global citizen, helping them to understand the importance of respecting and being open-minded when it comes to other people and cultures unlike their own. With communal supports, the students were able to understand the possibilities and opportunities that lay before them. Many of them now want to travel to different countries in Europe to explore different cultures and languages outside of their own. “It’s 2016 and the students need to understand what it means to be global citizens,” said Dolores Cupp, principal of Hurley Elementary School. “These kids have to be taught to be more aware of cultures and identities outside of their own.”

Global citizenship has been a priority for Cupp and the school, exhibiting it also through the school’s Multicultural Fair, taking place this year on June 14th. On that day, each classroom is transformed into a different country, transporting visitors to the specific location and exposing them to presentations and performances about that culture.

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