The beginning of a new adventure: High School Abroad Orientation Weeks

These have been busy days for us in Valparaíso! We welcomed our Liberal Arts, Language in Context, and High School Abroad, which is always a time of excitement, adaptation, and get-to-know you kind of meetings. In this post I'm going to focus on the orientation of High School Abroad Spring students.


Yay! They are here! Happy, anxious, disoriented, excited... all that at once. We quickly headed to Valparaíso and checked in at a hostel, where students spent their first night. We had lunch and dinner together, so it was the perfect time to get to know each other: new students, year students, and staff. We also had a little tour around CIEE, by foot, where we got to know and discuss means of transportation.


On the next day, after a lecture on "living with a Chilean family", students got to know their hosts ! Usually, families prepare a big welcome lunch for greeting our students. They also invite extended family members, and all of a sudden you have a bunch of new cousins, uncles and aunts, neighbors, pets, siblings, etc, etc, etc.


This is when true orientation happens -Everyday we would have a lecture/workshop at CIEE Valparaíso, where we would cover important topics such as safety, understanding the Chilean educational system, school culture, program rules, etc. Typically, students have lunch with their hosts families, and then return to CIEE for a Spanish lesson. The late afternoon is spent with host families, or enjoying the last summer days at the beach!


This is an interesting week for all of us... Although it is more relaxed and there are less planned activities, there are some criticial moments that help our students transitioning to their new lives on-site. Along with the Spanish lessons, we schedule individual visits to schools , where students have the chance to meet some key people at school (inspectores, profesores jefe, headmaster, etc), the facilities, their classroom, etc. And after, we alloted time to purchase school uniforms.

We also schedule our DAY TRIP to Santiago on this week! Let me tell you a bit about it! Santiago is the capital of Chile, and a super fun city to explore! This time, we visited La Moneda palace (the place where the president works -equivalent to the White House in the US). Students had some free time to explore downtown Santiago. We walked to Mercado Tirso de Molina, a traditional, local farmer's market which nowadays hosts restaurants owned by migrants from diverse countries/cultures: Venezuela, Colombia, Perú, Mapuche, etc. We had a delightful Thai lunch! Later in the afternoon, we visited the historical and always-charming Santa Lucia hill. Our students got to experience both the historical and the rapidly changing Santiago, in this quick, day visit!

That's our orientation weeks run off! Now our HSA students are eagerly waiting for their first day of school!