For two weeks in June, nine middle-school students at St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Brookhaven experienced cultural immersion in Panamá City, Panamá, through homestays, field trips and Spanish-language lessons during the school’s inaugural exchange program.
Participants stayed with families from partner school Colegio Episcopal de Panamá and enjoyed in-school and after-school activities as the Panamanian school year runs from January through September. Students also ventured beyond the classroom and volunteered at an orphanage and visited the Panamá Canal and Canal Zone, the city’s historic area, and an Embera village.
The exchange students were accompanied by four St. Martin’s faculty and staff members and one St. Martin’s alumni. Among the St. Martin’s staff was exchange program founder and Head of School Luis Ottley, Ed.D., a Colegio graduate. Also in attendance were fluent Spanish speakers Middle School Principal Tony Shaffer, and 2010 St. Martin’s graduate Olivia Haas, who recently earned degrees in politics and Spanish from Converse College.
In the fall, Panamanian students from Colegio will stay with St. Martin’s host families for the second inbound exchange.