As the dates for multiple trips through the Newtown International Center for Education (NICE) program approach, both Newtown High School students and NICE program instructors are preparing.
Students and teachers will be traveling to China, Spain, and France during the school’s break in April. The group going to China will be traveling April 10 to April 21, the group traveling to Spain, April 8 to 19, and the group going to France will be traveling April 8 to 16.
To prepare the students, NHS teacher and NICE Europe and Spain Project Co-Manager, Spain Study Tour Leader, and NICE Club Co-Advisor Caroline Barron said monthly study tour workshops have been held to prepare the students for cultural experiences, etiquette, communicating in the country’s language, and updates on current events. The workshops, Ms Barron said are held to help the students feel comfortable when traveling and to best represent the Newtown school district while abroad.
Ms Barron also said the NICE country managers have been communicating near-daily with their counterparts in the other countries. Preparations area also under way for when a delegation from Spain visits Newtown at the end of May, according to Ms Barron.
“The NICE study tour program is an incredible opportunity that’s open to all Newtown High School students to enrich their learning experience and provide a genuine international perspective. The yearlong study program, which culminates with a one-week trip to one of our sister schools in China, Spain, or France, is often a life-changing experience,” said NICE Parent and Community Organization (NICE PCO) President Lisa Berger. “Many of the program’s alumni have shared how the NICE program has positively influenced their choice of study in college and future career paths… NICE also benefits younger students, their families, and teachers throughout our district who host and interact with the international delegates when they travel to Newtown to experience our American culture. The NICE PCO is grateful to the generous donors who have provided funding for this program and given these students this invaluable opportunity.”
The NICE program is funded solely by grants and donations, Ms Berger said.
According to Ms Barron 18 students and four chaperones are set to travel to China, 12 students and two chaperones will travel to France, and 16 students and two chaperones will travel to Spain.
NHS junior Emma DeFlumeri, who will to travel to China, said she decided she wanted to go after her family hosted a visiting student from China last school year.
“I decided with a big group of students who also hosted that we really want to see China, because it is really not a place that you go on vacation to or go to visit with your family. So I decided that it was really a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” said Emma, who also said she wants to travel the world and be a member of the Peace Corps.
Emma said she is most looking forward to living with her host family in China to get and understanding of what daily life is like, and visiting the Great Wall of China.
Cara Milhaven, a junior at NHS, will be traveling to France.
“I just think it is cool to experience other cultures and understand different languages and things like that,” Cara said.
While in France, Cara said she is expecting to see a number of famous sites, staying with a host family, and going to school.
“I’ve been talking to the girl I will be staying with, and she says she bikes to school,” said Cara, about visiting Newtown’s sister school in France. “I think that will be really cool to do in the morning.”
NHS junior Constantine Gregoire will also be traveling to France.
“I think I want to go to France because I know my own high school perspective really well but I think to see it through the eye of a French [student] will be great,” Constantine said. “I guess it is just a new way of looking at life and maybe comparing them. I think that aspect will be interesting for me.”
Constantine said he is looking forward to eating French food, seeing the sites, and meeting people while abroad.
Jonathan Schwartz, a senior at NHS, will be traveling to Spain. He said he has been speaking Spanish since middle school.
“I think it is going to be pretty interesting to actually utilize the Spanish language somewhere rather than just using it in the classroom,” Jonathan said.
To prepare for his trip, Jonathan said he has been speaking with the son of the host family he will be staying with while in Spain.
“And I’ve been doing a bit of research about the area in general that we are going to so I can make sure to get the best of the trip,” Jonathan said.
NHS senior Briana Man is also visiting Spain.
Briana said she is looking forward to speaking Spanish, which she said she has been studying since seventh grade, and to experiencing the culture in Spain. Briana also said he has been active with the NICE Club.
“Seeing new things is awesome,” Briana said.
Chaperones traveling to China are Tim DeJulio, Katherine Matz, David Defeo, and Paul Jones. Students traveling to China are Matthew Barra, Patrick Berger, Emily Berube, Rashad Brewer, Emily Campbell, Emma DeFlumeri, Sophia De Vivo, Lilly Fulmer, Matthew Hess, Joshua Kaufman, Jerri Lee, Peter Manfredonia, Matthew Marini, Katie Mossbarger, Alana Murray, Paul O’Leary, Nick “Frank” Rohrbacher, and Drew Szarka.
Traveling to Spain are chaperones Caroline Barron and Deidre Croce and students Helen Allen, Siena Cicarelli, Caitlin Filiato, Morgan Macchiarulo, Briana Man, Tess Murray, Emily Papp, Anna Pinckney, Julia Schoeni, Jonathan Steven Schwartz, Thomas Shaker, Taylor Stroili, Kaitlyn Sugarman, Jillian Vazquez, Megan Weber, and Anna Whitlock.
Chaperoning traveling to France are Jennifer Davidson and Paula Greenfield; their student charges are Andrew Braun, Emma Burns, Jess Coughlin, Kelly Coughlin, Lydia Field, Max Galassi, Constantine Gregoire, Stephanie Haas, Cara Milhaven, Aidan Petershack, Haley Trudell, and Jackie Winkler.