Saint Patrick Catholic School Spanish classes welcomed exchange students from Gimnasio Fontana in Bogotá, Colombia. Ten students and two teachers are visited our school all the way from South America! Their visit included a home-stay with Saint Pats families, classroom visits, cultural presentations, language enrichment, exploring the area, and a bilingual middle school mass. iBienvenidos!
For a photo album, click here.

A reflections on the Colombian visit

Coordinating a group of 10 students and 2 teachers from Colombia has been a labor of love, so many details to consider, but in the end it was a worthwhile experience for all. Our new friends brought Latin-American culture to our school, giving us a fresh look at the beautiful country of Colombia. I can proudly report that our Saint Pat’s kids are more motivated than ever to improve their Spanish and to explore the world.

Here are two student reflections, one from a Saint Pat’s (my daughter) and one from a Colombian student:

I believe that student exchange programs all around the world are very important. The exchange students get to live an everyday life in our country, learning about what we do, eat, or go where we go. It is important for them to know who we are and how we live, so they can understand us better.

We took our exchange student Sofia to school, museums, a courthouse tour, skating, the mall, bowling, a movie and to Seattle. Her English was good and it got better by the end. Sofia was adventurous. She tried Mexican, Italian, French, Indian,Thai and American food while she was here. On our last night together she taught me how to make “arepas colombianas.” Hopefully someday in the future she will come back to visit us again. Maybe we could visit Sofia in Colombia some day? It sounds like nice place to visit. Sofia did try her best to explain the current political situation to me and my mom one day. It sounded complicated.

It is also important for the host families, because they get to learn from who they are hosting. My new friend Sofia shared what her life is like back in her country. We had a lot in common. She likes to play soccer, hang out and text her friends, listen to music, just like I do. She also helped me with Spanish. In my opinion it’s important for all the people of the world to to know and understand people who live far away. I think that will help us improve both ourselves and those around us. -Roma S.

The cultural exchange between the Saint Patrick School and Gimnasio Fontana was/is very important for the students and the world for many reasons. As an exchange student the first thing that I improved was my English. As I live in Colombia I don’t have much opportunities to speak in other languages, so this trip opened my mind and helped improve my vocabulary. The second thing that astonished me were the landscapes. In Colombia it never snows. So when we went to Tacoma and it snowed just a little bit, it was the best thing in life. Finally and the most important thing that we improved was to socialize and adapt to a new environment with new people.

This is also a great opportunity for us to magnify the world that we see, and be able to start to believe new things and visit new places, and knowing new people, and making new friends, and open our minds to a changing world that can be unfair, or it may be full of injustice but we can’t change that, but we can learn to use the opportunities that are offered to us, like an exchange, or a friend. This is a great opportunity with a lot of challenges but with a lot of things to learn, and that you won’t learn in your comfort zone.    – Lucas Capdevila

Many thanks to the amazing children and families who welcomed our new Colombian friends into their homes and hearts. The home stay portion of their visit was essential component of the program. Also, I’d like to thank my fellow teachers and our administration for their flexibility and their generosity in making this all happen. This was a team effort for sure.


Señora Nancy Sharkey