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CIEE program takes students around world to learn languages, explore diverse cultures

Scholarships available as part of study abroad program which can improve foreign language fluency
Sam Saccheri

From watching bullfighting to touring the local markets of Madrid, junior Oliver Chancellor explored the culture of Spain while learning Spanish over the summer. He took part in a summer language study abroad program hosted by the Council on International Educational Exchange.

Spanish teacher Angela Ambrosio, who volunteered to be Paly’s CIEE partner teacher, said she took on many behind-the-scenes responsibilities to qualify students for scholarships and give them more opportunities to study abroad. Ambrosio coordinated meetings between school representatives and the program’s local representatives, organized an assembly about the program and presented about it at this year’s Back to School Night.

“Gunn High School has been doing it for around six years,” Ambrosio said. “They have a nice partnership with CIEE, and I just felt, being a world language teacher, that it was very important that these opportunities were brought to students here at our campus as well.”

While Paly students have access to scholarships, according to the CIEE website, the price of a trip depends on the specific program but typically is in the thousands of dollars.

Junior Oliver Chancellor, who went to Madrid as part of a CIEE summer program, said while the program may be expensive, scholarships can make the experience possible for students.

“When I was talking to the kids in my program, the majority of their tuition was paid off, or they had a scholarship,” Chancellor said. “I can’t think of a single person I talked to that didn’t have a scholarship.”

Not only do CIEE programs give students the unique opportunity to explore a foreign country, but they also improve foreign language speaking skills.

Ambrosio said summer programs such as CIEE allow students to learn Spanish in an immersive setting, something that is different from classes.

“Once you have your foundation that you learn in the classroom, going to these countries and actually spending time there is when things kind of all start to fall into place,” Ambrosio said. “That’s really what helped me become more fluent. Rather than just being in a sterile, classroom setting.”

Chancellor said spending time with his host family and exploring Madrid improved his Spanish listening and speaking ability into a functional skill.

“(The activities) helped us practice applicable skills on how to use the Spanish that we learned in class,” Chancellor said. “Rather than just knowing certain phrases in a classroom, it helps you learn how to use the skills you use in the classroom in the real world to get around.”

Chancellor said during the Madrid program, he also bonded with kids from all around the U.S. whom he would not have met otherwise.

“My brother lives in New York, so when I go and visit him, I also see the friends that I made on that trip,” Chancellor said. “You truly make friendships that last, and I’m in contact with a lot of the people that I met at the program.”

In addition to learning Spanish, Chancellor said he discovered more about the culture and city of Madrid during the program.

“I think of a city and I thought that I would know what it’d be like because I’ve been in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, all these big cities,” Chancellor said. “But the city of Madrid is so unique.”

Junior Samantha Fan, who also went on the Madrid summer trip, said she enjoyed exploring the city during the weekend trips and the free time she had throughout her stay.

“When you’re exploring another country, I think it’s important to see touristy things because there’s a reason that they’re popular,” Fan said.

Overall, Chancellor said the trip was full of exciting opportunities and experiences.

“I was never bored,” Chancellor said. “I always had something to do.”

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Isabella Bian
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