Network exchange program globally connects SH schools


Elo Regeart and Vitzy Argüelles prepare for class at their exchange school in Connecticut thousands of miles from their homes and school in Mexico.

Jovel Quierolo
Sacred Heart Editor

If every student at CSH spoke fluent Spanish, the school would look, sound and feel like Colegio Sagrado Corazon (Sacred Heart High School) in Mexico City, Mexico.

“[The school] is surprisingly just like ours,” said junior Caitie Sullivan, who recently returned from an immersion and service trip to Mexico. “I would definitely go for a semester to a Sacred Heart school. The girls would be the reason I would go back. I didn’t feel like an outsider.”
Students from schools connected with the Society of the Sacred Heart are getting a chance to interact with students around the world from schools like CSC through a new Network program, Papalotzin.

“Papalotzin is an international program that promotes inter-cultural dialogue between Sacred Heart schools around the world,” said Martha Najera, Director of the International Department at CSC. “Our international program is a symbol of the unity of interests of the participating countries in our society to preserve a shared heritage.”

The program was created by Martha Baca, Principal of Colegio Sagrado Corazón — Mexico. The message of the program is well-represented by its name, according to Najera. Papalotzin is the Aztec word for Royal or Monarch butterfly — “papalotl” meaning butterfly and “tzin” meaning royal. The small insects make a famous but unlikely migration of thousands of miles.

“Like the butterflies, we are trying to cross borders regardless of barriers or challenges,” said Najera, who helps run Papalotzin and works with interested schools. “The butterflies are born in Canada and come through the U.S. to Mexico in the winter. They are in a new place, and yet they are home.”

Schools participate in any of the program’s three areas of work for faculty, student academics or exchanges. The center of the program is its online platform that shares ideas and pictures.

“>“My school and the education are special because they gave me the opportunity to visit another Sacred Heart School, with shared values and points of view,” said junior Elo Regaert Candás at Colegio de Sagrado Corazon who recently returned from Convent of the Sacred Heart, in Greenwich, Conn. last February.

The academic portion encourages students from different Network schools to engage in projects, contests and aid campaigns. Faculties are encouraged to share administrative procedure, technology and teaching methodologies.

“In some aspects, the program acts as a virtual classroom,” said Najera. “It has also shown a similar creative spirit among schools concerning international aid. Student organizations like Jump for Africa have worked with branches at other schools in the Network.”

Most popular for students are the exchanges like the one Regeart went on. Some of the 21 schools who have joined Papalotzin have exchanged their students to and from Taiwan, Scottland, Mexico, the United States and the United Kingdom. Junior Alejandra Elvira Borja at Colegio de Sagrado Corazon spent three weeks at Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart in Newton, Mass. last February.

“In the beginning being in a classroom in a different place was weird because we had new classmates, teacher, subjects and a different language, but with the time I got used to it and learned how to get involved,” said Borja, who like Regeart speaks English as a second language.

A press release by American Field Service Intercultural Programs (AFS) reported 47 percent of students became fluent in the language of their host culture with 12 percent achieving the bilingual fluency level after long periods of studying abroad. Papalotzin’s goal is to give students the ability to communicate beyond the physical, language and cultural boundaries, according to Najera.

“We want students to experience other cultures, develop tolerance and diversity and to have a really good experience,” said Najera. “Madeline Sophie once said, ‘The mission is great — it includes the whole world.’”

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