Lopez students embark on international journey

Believing firmly in international travel as a very positive learning opportunity for students, Lopez High School is excited about the international trips upon which many of their students have, or soon will be embarking. Lopez High School has a rich history of such travel, and the number of students who have been able to experience the world in such travel is impressive.

The goals are many for each trip, and the rewards too numerous to list, but chief among the goals is to further develop student awareness of the world around them and the richness of the diversity of the different cultures and peoples that inhabit our world. Students often return from these trips with  life-changing perspectives of and appreciation for different cultures and countries. Most also return with a heightened awareness of the global community in which we live and the realization that they are members of this global community, with rights and responsibilities attached thereto. The students also gain an appreciation of the positiveness of the "sameness" of the world community and the many similarities between young people and their families, feelings, hopes, dreams, and aspirations for the future.

Fourteen Lopez High School students left for France on Thursday, March 29, and are scheduled to return on April 13. While in France they will further develop their language skills by speaking, writing, reading, etc., as well as spend several days in home-stays with French residents for "total immersion" language and culture opportunities. They will also be visiting famous museums, castles, chapels, and eating in famous restaurants. Participating students have been fund-raising and studying for this year's trip for a year or more, as they prepared themselves for the rich learning experience in which they are engaged. The trip is designed to also incorporate experiences that go far beyond what a routine tourist might gain, as students travel backroads and byways of France. The French trip is being led by long-time French-trip leaders and Lopez School educators Richard and Debbie Tetu.

Three students left for China on Thursday, as well, on an "exploratory mission" to scout out a potential site and connection for future trips. Lopez School was offered an opportunity to establish a connection with a community and university in a rural province in China, where a Lopez family has been living and working for several years. The opportunity to perhaps develop another travel destination for possible future trips is exciting. China has become such an important player in the global community, and the opportunity to perhaps send students there in the future to learn and share about our Pacific Rim neighbor is important to investigate. The three students and their adult leader, Jeanna Carter, will be checking out a school for the blind where, it is hoped, Lopez students might have an opportunity on future trips to work, teach English, and perhaps develop relationships with Chinese students their own age with whom they might develop long-distance shared learning opportunities. Upon their return, the China-trip participants will be involved in a comprehensive and rigorous review process with school staff and administrators to determine the value and viability of future trips to China. This will be a learning opportunity for the students as well.  As with the other trips, the actual cost to the Lopez district is minimal, involving primarily a few days each for substitute teachers for the leaders.

On Wednesday, April 4, five Lopez High students will join a small group of  other students from around the area to travel to Japan. They have been studying and preparing for this trip for a long time, with language classes, cultural field trips, and other experiences designed to enhance their actual visit to Japan. As with the other trips, the students will be exposed to many facets of the culture, from museums, to architecture, schools, and both rural and urban life. The Japanese trip students will also be engaged in home-stays and will have an opportunity to experience culture and language in an in-depth manner that only such immersion can bring. The students will be visiting Tokyo, Kyoto, Leshima, and Hiroshima, along with other sites and locations. They will also be staying a night or two in a traditional Japanese inn. The leaders for this trip are long-time Japan-trip leaders Lopez teacher Kurt Jacobs and Pat and Hugh Burleson. They will be joined this year by Lopez teacher Annie Calonico.

"What an amazing learning opportunity for our students that these dedicated and hard-working adult leaders are providing," said Superintendent Bill Evans. "We are proud of our students for extending themselves like this, and appreciative of the support of the community, the School Board, and the students' families to make these trips happen year after year.  What a great experience!"

Watch for public displays and opportunities to learn more about the trips, upon the students' return.

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