NICE Delegation Members Reflect On Foreign Visits

Study tour chaperones for the recent Newtown International Center for Education (NICE) delegation visits to China, France, and Spain resoundingly said this week the trips all were wonderful experiences.

Some of the students who traveled to the three countries also chimed in to share their favorite parts of the experiences.

Students and teachers traveled to the three countries during the district’s break in April. The group that went to China traveled over April 10 to April 21, the group that went to Spain, April 8 to 19, and the group that went to France went from April 8 to 16.

Students that traveled to China were 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. Their chaperones were Tim DeJulio, Katherine Matz, David Defeo, and Paul Jones.

The Spanish delegation comprised Helen Allen, Siena Cicarelli, Caitlin Filiato, Morgan Macchiarulo, Briana Man, Tess Murray, Emily Papp, Anna Pinckney, Julia Schoeni, Thomas Shaker, Taylor Stroili, Kaitlyn Sugarman, Jillian Vazquez, Megan Weber, and Anna Whitlock, chaperoned by Caroline Barron and Deidre Croce

The students visiting France were 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. Their chaperones were Jennifer Davidson and Paula Greenfield.

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 before the trips that monthly study tour workshops had 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 were held to help the students feel comfortable when traveling and to best represent the Newtown school district while abroad.

This was the first year a study group traveled to Spain, and Ms Barron said she could not have asked for a better group of students for the first trip.

Briana Man, a senior at NHS, said traveling to Spain was the “best experience of my life,” and NHS senior Morgan Macchiarulo also said the trip to Spain was “amazing.”

“We got to learn so much about their culture and so much about the language and at the same time we were having a lot of fun meeting a lot of new people,” said Morgan. “So it was just an experience that I think was once in a lifetime, I think, to really be immersed in somebody else’s home, in somebody else’s life.”

Briana said meeting the people in Spain who hosted them and worked with them was luck.

“I’m best friends with so many of them now. It’s amazing,” Briana said, before adding that she is also planning to visit Spain again this summer.

Traveling to Spain, Briana said, also confirmed her plan of studying abroad while studying at her planned college of choice next school year, New York University.

After the delegation returned from Spain, visitors from Newtown’s sister school there also visited Newtown from April 26 to May 6.

According to NICE Parent and Community Organization (NICE PCO) President Lisa Berger, 17 students and two teachers visited Newtown from the Spain sister school, IES Las Encinas, in Villanueva de la Canada. Highlights of that visit included shadowing students and teachers at NHS, Newtown Middle School, and at the homes of their hosts. Visiting delegation members also visited Yale University, learned how to silk screen from the high school’s graphics department, and had swing dancing lessons from NHS faculty members.

Ms Barron said during the NHS delegation’s visit to Spain details on the partnership between the two schools were worked out, and they went on a historical walking tour of Madrid, and more. Some of the students, she said, visited Madrid and Toledo.

Ms Davidson, who is the NICE manager of communications, the Europe and France Project co-manager, and was a France study tour leader, said the delegation visit to France was a successful one.

Student delegates who visited France traveled to the Palace of Versailles, had a historic walking tour of Le Marais, and shared cultural exchanges with their French “brothers and sisters,” said Ms Davidson. The French delegation chaperones also worked with their colleagues in France on a curriculum program and spent two days at the sister school Lycée Alain, according to Ms Davidson.

NHS junior Constantine Gregoire said the visit to France was “a brilliant experience.” Constantine said he found visiting with his host family to be both familiar to his own family and beautiful in the similarities and differences. Bonding with his host family and other hosts, Constantine said, was his favorite part of the trip.

“I would recommend it to anybody,” Constantine said. “Going to France in general is beautiful, but I think the NICE experience is just even more so. You would never experience that anywhere else in any other way.”

Mr DeJulio, NICE program development, Asia project manager, NICE Club co-advisor, and Liaocheng Study Tour leader, said his delegation’s trip to China was “another good trip.”

The group that traveled to China visited the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, and other locations. Students on the trip also received kung fu lessons. Mr DeJulio said the group visited both the high school and middle school in Liaocheng, China.

Newtown’s sister schools in China and France are also sisters schools, and Mr DeJulio said an initial plan of collaborating with all three schools was discussed during the visit.

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