It came as a surprise when my school asked me if I would organize the first school trip to Spain. I was ecstatic but a bit afraid. I was sure a trip like this would be a great chance and experience for kids to brush up their Spanish and soak in the culture, but I had to find the right school for the trip to be successful. There are many Language Schools out there, but I wanted one to cater to our type of students. I needed a rigorous and professional institution and I wasn’t about to blindly search one on the Internet and settle for just any that looked good on the web and paper.
I decided first that although Madrid is a beautiful city, it was way too big, so I picked Toledo, my favorite little city with a rich cultural and historical background. I went to Toledo over my summer vacation to scout the place and came upon a language school which looked great on the web but that was not open or answered any of my calls. Luckily strolling along I came by chance to the door of Fundación José Ortega y Gasset-Gregorio Marañón which I had scratched out off my list because they seemed to only work with college students from around the globe and I was looking for a place for my high school students. However, my friend told me to take a chance and ask. We walked in the last day of July, the last day they would be open till their fall semester. We were greeted with such courtesy and warmth that I was already taken. When I told them what I was looking for and that I knew well from their site that they didn’t take high school students at the time, they told me to talk to the director and see if they could accommodate us as an exception.
As I explained my plan about a Linguistic Cultural Trip for my students, they immediately were open to the idea. They accommodated our dates, even when they would normally be closed for Easter and they took us in! The experience of planning the trip and logistics of classes, activities, airport pickup, train ticket reservations and family stays was flawless. I actually only had to tell them what I was looking for and they customized everything to the smallest detail. They even helped out with the side trip to Madrid out of their goodwill!
As soon as the class groups were made and assigned, the communication with the two teachers began. They customized the classes and prepared a program just for them. I was able to e-mail back and forth with tips and as they prepared the program they always checked in with me. It is hard to prepare a program when you don’t know the students, no matter what someone tells you about them and their levels. It’s much like telling a doctor your symptoms over the phone. Yet, they nailed it when the time came and adapted the program even to the kids’ jetlag!
Our experience has been amazing! The teachers, and all the Ortega y Gasset Team were so warm and professional, on top of every detail. The families were amazing too. The Spanish teachers knew well how to make their classes’ fun and entertaining while focused on learning every minute of class time.
In less than two weeks the kids that were afraid of speaking in Spanish were actually happy to speak at any given chance!
Toledo is a great setting too. It is small and very safe, which gives high school students an opportunity to experience some freedom to explore the city by themselves in small groups.
The trip was flawless, the kids learnt a lot, were happy and loved Toledo! I am so grateful that fate brought me to the door of such a great Cultural Institution as Fundación José Ortega y Gasset-Gregorio Marañon, Toledo. Thank you!