HOPEWELL SCHOOL DISTRICT: Spanish exchange students coming to Hopewell for Halloween and more

By Frank Mustac Special Writer
A Spanish-language student exchange program at Hopewell Valley Central High School will be celebrating a 10th anniversary when 20 students and three teachers from Murcia, Spain, will arrive in the United States on Saturday, Oct. 24.
This will be the sixth exchange in the last 10 years between Hopewell Valley and its partner high school in Spain called Floridablanca.
For most of the students from the Iberian Peninsula, this will be their first time outside of Spain and, for some, their first time on an airplane, according to Hopewell Valley world language teachers Kristen Kincaid and Raquel Rivera. Both teachers are volunteer coordinators for the exchange program.
The Spaniards are coming to America for two weeks of activities that includes staying with families of Hopewell Valley Central High School students enrolled in some of the more advanced Spanish courses.
Most days, the Europeans will attend classes with their American host students, but they also have planned excursions to New York City and Washington, D.C.
In April, the Spaniards will host students from Hopewell Valley for a two-week stay in Murcia — the seventh largest city in Spain with a population of more than 400,000, about 350 miles southeast of Barcelona.
“The Spanish exchange program allows our students the opportunity to see what life is like outside of Hopewell Valley, sometimes for the very first time,” said Ms. Kincaid, explaining that having grown up in Hopewell Valley herself, she knows firsthand what it means to live in the “valley bubble.”
“As teachers of the 21st century, we strive to prepare students for global citizenship, and the exchange program provides an opportunity for increased cultural awareness, understanding and appreciation,” she said.
Ms. Rivera said she and Ms. Kincaid, have “forged a very strong and positive relationship with the teachers who coordinate this program in Spain.”
As teachers, she said the exchange program has helped them gain “insights and an understanding of new cultures.”
“It makes people reflect on their own approaches and practices,” Ms. Rivera said. “It breaks down insular barriers, and it is worth every second.”
Since Halloween falls during the two-week exchange program, the students from Spain and their American student hosts plan to dress in costume, trick-or-treating around some of the local neighborhoods. 