Weber Spanish immersion trip returns to class

Weber’s Spanish Immersion Trip went to Spain this year. (Lindsey Gelernter/The Weber School)

Weber’s Spanish Immersion Trip went to Spain this year. (Lindsey Gelernter/The Weber School)

Sloane Warner

In January of this year, the Weber Spanish program completed its third Spanish immersion trip. Sixteen Weber students, accompanied by three members of faculty and staff, traveled across Spain. They spent time in Galicia, Castilla y Leon and Madrid. Past Spanish immersion trips have visited Argentina and Cuba. The trips include connections with the Jewish communities in the host countries and an experience that strays from the traditional tourist path.

May Abravanel, a Weber junior, has now been on two trips with the Weber Spanish program. Last year, she went to Cuba with the group, where she found out that the Spain trip was being planned for this year. She originally planned to take a trip to Spain over the summer but ended up waiting and going with Weber instead. In preparation for the trip, the students attended Sunday classes at their teachers’ homes, where they learned about various aspects of Spanish culture and history. May and Lindsey Gelernter, another junior who went on the trip, both said that they also went shopping to prepare for the trip.

Lindsey Gelernter and May Abravanel enjoyed their trip to Spain. (Lindsey Gelernter/The Weber School)

A big part of the trip was meeting new people and making sure to speak to them in Spanish. May talked about a few people whom she met, saying that they were not Jewish but worked in the Jewish community by educating non-Jews about Judaism, what May called “super important work.” On the “Weber en España” blog, Señora Rocamora wrote about how proud she was of seeing her students speak in fluent conversations with people they met. May was the first student to sit in the front of their tour bus with the driver, and she had an engaging conversation with him, all in Spanish.

Lindsey was excited about a Sephardic musician that the students met named Paco Diez. According to Lindsey and May, he plays “every instrument known to mankind.” The students met other Spaniards as well, such as a boutique owner who told May to “do whatever [she] want[s], just believe.”

Señorita Laura Bowers said that “It was really cool to experience my first Shabbat, not only having my students explain it to me in Spanish, but also getting to see something totally different, that I have never seen.” Señorita Bowers lived in Spain in the past, but she was happy to share the experience with her students, saying that “some of the kids were able to get in touch with Jewish roots that they hadn’t before” because of the tour guides’ knowledge of the Spanish Jewish history.

Next, May wants to go back to Cuba, hopefully on the Weber trip next year. Lindsey is looking forward to Weber’s other immersion trip, the senior trip to Israel and Poland. They both had advice for students who will travel with Weber in the future. May said that students should “take educational risks and go for studying, not for the trip,” while Lindsey’s advice was to “embrace [the] culture there, try not to be a tourist.”

To read more about the Spain immersion trip, check out the “Weber en España” blog, with posts written by teachers and students.