Students leave Chile for classes in San Francisco

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Ava Martinez
Reporter

Years of English classes were put to the test for three exchange students from Colegio del Sagrado Corazon in Reñaca, Chile who lived and attended school with Convent students for the past few weeks. Nine students in total arrived in San Francisco — three staying at Convent while six attended Sacred Heart Preparatory in Atherton.

“The Chilean exchange is going very well overall, particularly in regard to the enthusiasm of the Chileans and the hospitality of the families,” said theology teacher Julia Arce, who spent the last two years working to coordinate an exchange with the Network sister school.

Although Convent is a new environment for the Chilean students, with a different language and a new culture, similarities to their school in Chile made for a smooth transition.

“Convent is similar to my school in Chile because our school is also very small,” said Catalina “Cata” Blanc, who stayed with junior Tori Balestrieri. “The classes I am taking here are similar to the ones at my school, but some of the material is different.”

The community the Chilean exchange students come from is similar in its Sacred Heart traditions such as Prize Day and Congé, and like Convent, their high school is right next door to a Sacred Heart elementary school.

Upon the exchange students’ arrival, Convent welcomed the guests with food and an introduction at an assembly, something that would happen at their school in Chile, according to Blanc.

“I have really enjoyed meeting a lot of new people and taking different types of classes at Convent,” said Blanc. “Everyone has been very welcoming.”

The school worked to support the exchange students with special schedules so that they have the independence to attend class on their own without their hosts.

“The hardest part is coordinating schedules so they can do work but also feel like it was easy to integrate them into the academic setting,” said Arce. “The teachers have been very helpful as well to accommodate the students.”

The exchange students are not taking a full course load and have more free periods than the average Convent student. On weekends, the girls’ hosts took them to different attractions around the city.

“The city is very beautiful,” said Blanc. “I have especially enjoyed going to Chinatown and North Beach to see the different cultures in San Francisco.”

An exchange of cultures is equally valuable for the students and families who hosted the Chilean students, according to Balestrieri.

“I have really liked having Cata stay at my house,” said Balestrieri. “I thought it might be awkward with the language barrier, but we actually get along really well.”

The success of the Chilean exchange program has created some conversation about Convent students to studying at a Sacred Heart school outside the United States.

“I would love for our students to visit other schools internationally,” said Arce. “Aside from the expense of travel, our school would like to promote Convent girls going to other countries too.”

MAGGIE CUMMINGS | the broadview Sophomore Lily Kaplan talks to rising sophomore Francisca Bayer at lunch. Bayer lived and attended classes with freshman Cate Svendson but later during her stay she attended Women’s Studies, French and an Art Class on her own. It is summer for students in Chile, but the visitors from Reñaca are taking a few different classes at Convent that will not count for credit.

MAGGIE CUMMINGS | the broadview Sophomore Lily Kaplan talks to rising sophomore Francisca Bayer at lunch. Bayer lived and attended classes with freshman Cate Svendson but later during her stay she attended Women’s Studies, French and an Art Class on her own. It is summer for students in Chile, but the visitors from Reñaca are taking a few different classes at Convent that will not count for credit.

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