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Paynesville Press - July 3, 2002

Five students travel to Spain

By Andy Jones

spanish students Five students from Paynesville Area High School took a 12-day trip to Spain in June. They are the first Spanish students from PAHS to have ever taken a class trip to Spain.

The trip consisted of a five-day stay with a Spanish family in the city of Toledo and of touring southern Spain for another week.

Students Jenna Berry, Amy Gartner, Heidi Jansen, Crystal Jimenez, and Rita Lounsbury were chaperoned on the trip by Spanish teacher David Wilke. These six traveled with two other groups, one from Wisconsin and the other from Iowa, to make a total of 35 students and three chaperones.

Two years ago, Wilke took a group of students to Costa Rica. The decision to go to Spain was made by the students who were interested in the trip. Wilke commented that Spanish trips have a larger variety of possible destinations than German trips because Spanish is spoken in many more countries.

Each student who went on the trip was required to take three years of Spanish in high school.

Rita Lounsbury, Heidi Jansen, Crystal Jimenez, Jenna Berry, and Amy Gartner stand inside a guard's station in front of a Madrid palace.

Wilke made the point that the dialect of Spain is different from what is taught in his classes. He teaches a form that is used more in parts of Central America. He admits that even he had some trouble understanding some people.

According to Crystal Jimenez, people spoke English quite well in some places, but in other places they couldn't speak a word. "It really depended on where we were," she said. "My host family didn't speak any English."

After an eight-hour flight from Chicago to Madrid on Wednesday, June 12, the group got off the plane and was taken immediately on a walking tour of the city of Madrid on June 13. After some rest, they then were able to relax and do some shopping, as well as visit a palace.

spanish landscape Then it was off to Toledo to stay with host families. Throughout the home stay, the students were able to tour many different cathedrals, castles, and palaces in the surrounding area.

According to Rita Lounsbury, the hardest thing about the home stay, besides the language barrier, was trying to get a good night's sleep. Around 2 a.m. one night, people in the town started shooting off fireworks and shouting in celebration. She soon found out that Spain had just won a soccer game in the World Cup tournament. "It was hard getting used to it," said Lounsbury.

After the home stay was over, the group then went to tour other cities in southern Spain: Segovia, Cordoba, Seville, Granada, and Costa del Sol. The group stayed in hotels for the remainder of the trip.

While in Segovia, they saw the castle that Disney used as the basis for Sleeping Beauty.

armor suit Another famous sight during the trip was the throne room of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. This is where Christopher Columbus asked permission to take a trip around the world, which resulted in his discovering America in 1492.

This armor suit was in one of the many shops the students visited on their trip to Spain

The next stop on the trip was Cordoba,where the group visited a Muslim mosque. In Cordoba, some students from the other groups became quite ill. One student was so dehydrated, Wilke had to carry that person to the hospital.

"This was the most trouble I've had with health problems," said Wilke. Other students got sick from various things, including food poisoning and viral infections.

The group ran into more trouble in the city of Seville, where the general public staged a oneĞday strike. This meant that the group had to travel by foot because their bus driver was part of the strike.

That day they were unable to tour a castle and cathedral, instead they walked around the city, searching for something to tour.

"I think we walked 20 miles that day," said Wilke. They found a palace to tour that was home to the dutchess who was third in line to the throne of Spain.

The group relaxed on the beaches of Costa del Sol for a day before their flight home on Sunday, June 23.

More exciting news occurred as three bombs went off throughout Spain the day before the group went home. Wilke said that the bombs were planted by a group of Spanish radicals in light of the recent strike. The radicals told the police where the bombs were and when they were going to go off, so the police would be able to clear the area.

A few people were hurt by the bombings, but none died. The group from Paynesville felt safe and was never really in danger, said Wilke. They then headed back home.

The next Spanish trip will be in two years. The students who are interested will decide where they want to go during the next school year.

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