Special bonds form in Mount Pulaski and Spain student exchange here in the U.S.
Part 3: Students share Spanish culture with classes

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[October 26, 2016]  MOUNT PULASKI - While it’s evident the Spanish students were well-entertained while here, they did have to do some work, according to Grunder.

“The students prepared, very well mind you, four presentations that they gave to several grade school classes, my classes, and high school computer teacher Sheila Myers invited them into her room, too. They shared information about Spanish sports, food, festivals and holidays, and their own school,” said Grunder.

It’s also worth mentioning that Grunder noted, “the students with whom we are doing the exchange are English students in Ana's classes.” Ana and Isabel are the two teachers who traveled to the United States with the thirteen students. Ana stayed with the Grunder family in Lincoln, while Isabel was hosted by Marty Ahrends of Lincoln.

The students from Spain, by the way, knew their English quite well. Grunder explained, “The Spaniards do not get any kind of official credit for the exchange, nor do ours.

"The exchange is designed and organized by us teachers. Joe Scanavino of Sangamon Valley High School participated in this exchange last September/June, and he coordinated the communication between Ana and me to organize our exchange every-other-year with his school.

"The Spaniards' administration does require them to write summaries of what they did and post them to their school website. Other than that, they are responsible for the work they missed back home...lucky us...we go on our summer break!”

There are a couple more things to note before getting to the final farewell dinner the group shared. Grunder said of the many adventures the group took, “Every bus ride included singing.”

The Spaniards love music and it is a way for them to learn the English language. “Learning English through our pop music is HUGE anywhere and Spain is clearly no exception! Impressive, indeed,” said the beloved MPHS Spanish teacher.

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“You would've really enjoyed a moment on the bus coming home from St. Louis. They were doing an Adele show.....and, not only do they know the words, this group had beautiful voices. BUT, they just weren't nailing "Hello" the way it's supposed to be sung, in my humble opinion. I was sitting up front with the other adult chaperones...well, okay, I was trying to sleep...when I just couldn't take the sweet, pretty version of the chorus. So, I popped up and belted out: HELLO FROM THE OTHER SIIIIIIIIIIIIIDE! I MUST'VE CALLED A THOUSAND TIIIIIIIIMES! I am a terrible singer...terrible! But, they caught on. And, instead of singing the chorus ever so sweetly the next time around, they screeched it just like me, well, you know, just like Adele!”

Steve Hayes also couldn’t believe his ears when he recalled driving the family around and hearing this amazing voice from the back seat singing along beautifully, word for word, with every song on the radio. It was Karla. Steve was blown away by the fact that she knew every word to every song. Grunder reiterated, “Steve is right on. This group, especially the girls, and well, Ana, too, knew every word of every song.”

The bus driver who got to hear those beautiful voices, by the way, deserves special mention. Gene Schoth, who is the dad in the family that shared hosting duties of one of the Maria’s, drove the students around and Grunder had nothing but praise for this man. He got everybody at the right place, at the right time and on time, she emphasized. His excellent transportation skills were a key factor in making the trips all the more pleasurable.

[Teena Lowery]

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