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Discovery students hone language skills with Costa Rican visitors

Discovery Middle School Principal Melanie Barkley, standing at left, welcomed 34 students and eight teachers to campus from private schools in Costa Rica. (CONTRIBUTED)
Discovery Middle School Principal Melanie Barkley, standing at left, welcomed 34 students and eight teachers to campus from private schools in Costa Rica. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – A Costa Rican entourage learned about American lifestyles, while Discovery Middle School students tested their language skills in the cross-cultural exchange.

“We were very excited to host this group at Discovery and to share in their visit to the United States,” Discovery Principal Melanie Barkley said. These 34 students and eight teachers visited the Madison campus after attending U.S. Space Camp.

The visitors attend private schools in Costa Rica: New Hope in Heredia, New Generation in Heredia and West College in San Jose, Discovery Spanish teacher Hope Davis said. “They were here with Crosslands Education. Students were nine to 14 years old.

Tom White, Space Camp’s director of sales and outreach, contacted Barkley about the visiting group. “As part of their program with Crosslands Education, they do ‘service learning’ on cultural and informal learning experiences,” Barkley said.

The group wanted to visit an American school. White’s wife teaches at Heritage Elementary School, “so he’s very familiar with our schools,” Barkley said.

The Costa Rican and Discovery students discussed both similarities and differences between their two cultures and school environments.

Discovery students had the perfect venue to practice their language skills in Spanish. “They tried out their greetings, phrases and asked what the Costa Rican students like to do in their free time,” Davis said.

The Costa Ricans “loved Alabama and especially loved Space Camp. They were even wearing Alabama football T-shirts,” Davis said. “The only negative I heard was how bad the humidity was the week they were here.”

This visit broadened the “world view” of Spanish students at Discovery. “It opened their eyes to the fact that cultures around the world are very different yet have many similarities,” Davis said.

“It really helped the students see real-world application of learning the Spanish language and communicating with Spanish speakers from Costa Rica in a real-life setting,” Davis said.

For more information, visit crosslandseducation.com.

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