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Spanish students get a taste of life and education in Fauquier

Friday, Sep. 19 | By Hannah Dellinger
17-year old Spanish exchange program students Cristina Donis and Paua deArce learn how to wash a patients hair in a nursing classroom at FHS on Monday while Caitlin Kenney(not from SPain) 'lays in' as the patient.
Fauquier TImes Staff Photo/Hannah Dellinger
Fauquier High School's nurse aide class got a dose of world culture on Monday.

Teacher Margie Blevins heard small groups of students speaking Spanish to each other. There were four girls in the class visiting from Palencia, Spain as a part of the Fauquier County Public Schools’ exchange program.

For two weeks the four girls, along with 12 of their classmates and two teachers from Spain, will live with Fauquier host families, attend Fauquier schools and soak in the sights and culture of horse country.

Laura Hoover, the county's supervisor for foreign languages, said putting the Spanish students in classes that are a part of the Career and Technical Education program gives them a unique opportunity that they don’t have back home.

“We don’t have career training classes at home,” said Spanish student Maria Rubio, 16, through a translator. “This class is interesting, because I might want to enter the medical field.”

Monday’s nursing class covered patient hygiene. The students were assigned the task of washing each other’s hair while lying in hospital beds.

The Spanish students were watching the American students closely, taking in the foreign culture.

There were three American students in the class that spoke Spanish fluently that helped to translate for the students. They explained, however, that their South American Spanish is very different from the Spanish that is spoken in Spain.

“They have very different accents than we do,” said Fauquier High senior Zeidy Rios. She said that she grew up speaking Spanish with her Mexican family. “They also have very different slang.”
Paula de Arce, a 17-year-old student from Spain said that it was a comforting surprise to meet American students that could speak in Spanish to her.

Rubio saw some big differences between American and Spanish lifestyles. The biggest difference, she said, was the food. Since she got to America she has eaten a lot of fast food, which she would not do often at home.

She also said that American teenagers dress more vibrantly and style their hair with bright colors.

Her Spanish classmate, Cristina Donis, 17, said that Americans are very open and friendly compared to Spanish people.

They saw this openness and friendliness in health class. Despite the language barrier, the students there asked all kinds of questions about culture and explained the assigned tasks.

Donis said that despite the differences in culture, she has found that teenagers in both countries are interested in the same kinds of things like music, social media and they both have similar senses of humor.

The school division has hosted exchange students since the mid-1990s, starting with a program with a Welsh school.

The exchange with the Colegio La Salle de Palencia in Palencia, Spain started in 2012. There are also exchanges with Rotteck Gymnasion in Freiburg, Germany and one in the works with a school in France.

Each March, Fauquier students go to the same countries to stay with the student’s families that they hosted in the fall.

Hoover believes that having students visit from other countries is beneficial to FCPS students.

“As our students continue their studies and enter the 21st century global society, it is important for them to recognize and celebrate cultural and linguistic diversity,” she said.

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