The Spain students recently spent a whirlwind three weeks here in
the United States and by the end of the American experience you
could tell the students had made life-long friends with the
Hilltoppers. It was also evident that the feeling was mutual. Once
the group arrived in central Illinois, after months of anticipation,
there were lots of hugs and laughs shared as the students got to
know each other in person. They bonded very quickly.
The Spaniards and the Hilltoppers were matched up beforehand based
on their interests and the teachers involved certainly did a perfect
job putting the students together. By the time the three weeks had
ended, the group had made quite the tour around Illinois and even
the surrounding states.
On their last day in the United States, there were more hugs, more
laughs and a ton of tears as the group said goodbye until next
In this exchange, the Hilltoppers will visit Madrid in June of 2017.
Thank goodness for social media or it would be a very long and
agonizing eight months.
hosted by Peyton Taylor
Luis hosted by Corey Beccue
Jakub hosted by Sebastian Scassiferro
María hosted by Emma Schoth & Abbey Phillips
Nuria hosted by Faith Doerr
María---yes, there were 2 Marías: hosted by Isabella Wade
Paula hosted by Fikirte Mott and Alyssa Stauffer
Patricia hosted by Jaden Elliott
Elena hosted by Abby Howard
Cristina hosted by Madeline Moody
Miren hosted by Olivia Letterle
Ainhoa hosted by Emily Siebert
Karla hosted by Skylar Hayes
Three crazy, crazy, crazy busy weeks!
The exchange group from Spain arrived in Mount Pulaski on the
evening of Saturday, September 10, 2016 and pretty much hit the
Following a brief reception in the cafeteria at Mount Pulaski High
School, the group ventured uptown on the square to check out the
annual Mount Pulaski Fall Festival. The next day the students and
their host families had time to do whatever they wanted, and for
some that included shopping for Homecoming dresses.
During the evening, the group attended a cookout at Pine Lake,
located just outside of Mount Pulaski. The weather was perfect that
evening and the students and their host families just hung out
casually, eating, playing games and talking by the campfire.
While the weeks did include school for the students, there was still
plenty of time for field trips. The students traveled to Springfield
on Wednesday, September 14, 2016, and visited the Illinois State
Capitol building, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and
Library, and Scheels.
Then on Sunday, September 18, 2016, the students went on a St. Louis
adventure that included a visit to the world famous Arch and a
fantastic day at Six Flags Amusement Park. Here the students enjoyed
perfect weather again and no waiting in lines, according to Grunder.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016, the group headed to Chicago and covered
a lot of ground in the Windy City. A river and lake tour was on the
itinerary in Chicago as well as stops on Michigan Avenue and a
thrilling experience at 360 Chicago, which is the Observation Deck
on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building. Here the students
experienced an exhilarating one-of-kind attraction called TILT,
which allowed them to literally tilt at a 30 degree angle looking
out the window high above Michigan Avenue.
High school students and their teachers also love to eat and they
were treated to stops at two Chicago favorites, Portillo’s for
hotdogs and Giordano’s for that famous stuffed deep dish pizza.
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A neat story came out of the Windy City adventure and Grunder
tells it perfectly:
“In fact, when we were
in Chicago waiting for the bus, we noticed a couple taking their
engagement pictures. The girls were enthralled, and we all found
ourselves gawking at them: on DuSable Bridge overlooking the
river...it was from a movie.
"Well, I suggested we serenade them. And, it was the SPANIARDS who
sifted through their mental playlists and chose the perfect Ed
Sheeran song for us to sing. Most of us were like: Um, what song? By
whom? But, we played along. And, the entire group squished together
overlooking the couple on the bridge and we, well the Spaniards,
"It was lovely. The young man actually took his fiancé and started
dancing. We were so into it, that none of them took out our
cameras....unheard of, right?
"Sorry we missed the chance to capture it, but also pleased to know
we all enjoyed a spontaneous moment together.”
"Oh, that perfect Ed
Sheeran song was “Photograph” and Abby Howard did manage to take a
selfie with the couple in the background, the only known photograph
found from that experience."
The students also enjoyed Homecoming at Mount Pulaski High School
while they were here.
According to Grunder, the Spaniards LOVED all of the Homecoming
events and especially the dance, which took place on September 24,
2016, at the Mount Pulaski High School. The theme for the dance was
“The Great Gatsby” and the students looked magnificent all dressed
to the nines.
The Spaniards had even practiced a dance before coming to the United
States and they entertained everyone at the Homecoming Dance with
their spectacular dance performance.
The group also visited Bloomington-Normal and made a trip to the
Illinois State University campus on September 28, 2016. The campus
tour was shortened by rain, unfortunately, but it was the only day
of rain while the Spaniards were here, so that was definitely a
positive. The students managed to have fun rock climbing indoors
anyway that day at Upper Limits in Bloomington and also visited some
nearby Route 66 sites for pictures, according to Grunder.