Each year, Hewitt’s world languages department offers opportunities for middle and upper school students to travel abroad to Spanish- and French-speaking countries. These trips, filled with new experiences and discoveries, provide students with the chance to immerse themselves in the language, culture, history, and culinary traditions of different cities.
In February 2017, Claire Arnod, French teacher and world languages department chair, and Patrick Kochyan, French teacher, led a middle school trip to Québec, Canada.
The trip included a visit to Le Musée de la Civilisation, one of Canada’s most impressive museums in Québec’s Vieux-Port, and a stop at the beautiful waterfalls at Parc de la Chute Montmorency. There was also time to wander through the enchanting Quartier Petit Champlain, where Hewitt girls enjoyed browsing in local bookshops and tasting queues de castor from the neighborhood patisserie. Other highlights of Hewitt’s Québec trip included learning how to drive a dog sled through snowy, wooded trails and bundling up for a tour of the famed Hôtel de Glace.
After busy days spent touring the city, students looked forward to heading home each evening to bond with their host families. As one eighth grader recalled, “My host family served us a dinner of traditional French foods like pâté chinois, poutine, and fondue, which was delicious. My host sister was planning a visit to New York, so she helped me practice my French and I helped her practice her English. It felt good to be able to use the language I’m learning in school in a different setting.”
Just a few months later, in March 2017, Hewitt middle and upper school students traveled to the Spanish cities of Sevilla, Córdoba, and Tarifa. Led by Spanish teacher Leila Kaady and Elise Figa, a member of Hewitt's music faculty who is deeply committed to developing world music curriculum, students attended a lecture on the history of feminism at Sevilla’s Universidad Pablo de Olavide and viewed the works on display at Museo Pintor Amalio. The group also spent time in the historic center of Sevilla, where they learned about the three main faiths in medieval Spain — Islam, Christianity and Judaism — through tours of the Catedral de Sevilla, Alcázar de Sevilla, Jewish Quarter, and Mezquita de Córdoba.
Hewitt’s Spain trip also included a whale watching tour from Tarifa through the Strait of Gibraltar, a scenic kayak ride in the Guadalquivir River in Sevilla, and a visit to Rancho Cortesano, an organic sustainable farm that specializes in beekeeping. In addition to touring local sites, Hewitt girls spent a day attending classes at a local high school, where they participated in everything from mathematics to science to history courses conducted entirely in Spanish.
An upper school student who has been on two trips to Spain with her Hewitt peers remarked, “I loved bonding with my classmates on the trip and participating in once-in-a-lifetime experiences with my friends and teachers. Staying with a host family helped me embrace the Spanish culture and made me into a more confident Spanish speaker.”
In March 2018, Hewitt’s middle and upper school students will travel to Sevilla and through the Loire Valley on their way to Paris. Throughout their time in Spain and France, students will visit local schools, learn about sustainable farming, explore museums and art galleries, and, of course, stay with local host families. As Claire Arnod, chair of Hewitt’s world languages department, explained, “Offering a joint travel opportunity to students of French and Spanish will provide all participants with an immersive language experience and encourage them to see the ways in which French and Spanish are rooted in the same linguistic family. Hewitt students are learning to become citizens beyond New York City, and experiencing world cultures is an important step on that journey.”