Spanish Exchange Students Visit Oak Knoll

While the World Cup is underway in Qatar, Summit, NJ, is experiencing its own international gathering. Seven Spanish exchange students and their chaperones are visiting Oak Knoll for two weeks. They hail from the Sant Ignasi school in Barcelona. The students will be living with their Oak Knoll host students through December 7 and attending classes and school events throughout their time in Summit.

So far, says Claudia Mata, “I like meeting all the new people and riding in the yellow bus!” They were picked up at the airport by the Oak Knoll school bus. Claudia is being hosted by Keira Ardise ’25. Additional host students include Anne Farrell ’25, Ciara Loughrey ’25, Lucy Duttenhofer ’24, Abigail Flood ’24, Grace Cannizzo ’23, and Emmalyn Lacz ’23.

The exchange students are observing the difference between the Spanish school system and our own. “The system of school is very different at Oak Knoll than it is in our school in Spain. For example, in Spain, the classes you take are based on your age and here it is based on your level of experience,” said Lucia Dominguez, who would be the equivalent of a senior in Spain.

In addition to classes, the exchange students will attend the semi-formal dance. They will travel to Manhattan and visit the Christmas festivities at Rockefeller Center, and they will attend an ice hockey game. Earlier this week, they spent time shopping at the Short Hills Mall. Two of the exchange students visited the Lower School Culture Club this week to explain the humorous Catalan tradition of Caga Tió and assist the students in building their own Christmas gift logs.

Zohra Ismail, Grade 10-12 Dean, helped to coordinate the exchange and is in the process of planning a reverse exchange for our students to Barcelona. “The students seem to be really comfortable in our community. They are having fun times in the cafeteria. In the dining hall yesterday, they all broke into spontaneous karaoke. It was very cool,” Ismail related.

International exchange programs are an excellent learning opportunity for both the traveling students and their host families. The students can practice their world language skills in an immersive setting. They are experiencing alternate educational, cultural, and community norms, and they are stretching outside their comfort zones.

Our thanks to all the host families and to Kathleen Hoke and Kate McCroarty who are hosting the chaperones.

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