After 22 students at Mattituck High School finish classes on the afternoon of Feb. 17, they will head for JFK International Airport and board a plane for Argentina, where they will travel for a week and a day through its historic capital, Buenos Aires, learn to tango, visit a ranch and a rainforest and other Argentinian and Uruguayan attractions and landmarks.
The trip, from which they’ll return Feb. 26, was organized by MHS Spanish teacher Kathleen Galvin. It’s open to all 10th through 12th graders at the school, whether they are Spanish students or not.
As the students met for a quesadilla lunch in Ms. Galvin’s classroom Monday morning, they said the thing that concerns them most about their trip is the language barrier — even for students of Spanish.
Junior Jackie Albrecht, who plans to be a Spanish teacher, told the other students they will need to be up on their vocabulary. “They speak really, really fast,” she said.
Senior Kyle Santillo said that he’s ready for everything. He plans to major in international business in college and sees the trip as a first chance to immerse himself in a foreign place.
“I’m just excited for the culture shock,” he said. He admitted he was nervous about the 11-hour flight.
Senior Jessica Stumpf said she’d been waiting eagerly for the trip ever since it was announced last March. From seeing Buenos Aires, which she described as “The Paris of South America,” to visiting Iguazu Falls in the Argentinian rainforest, she’s looking forward to all the sights. “I’m an antsy person. It’s surreal that I’ve been waiting since last March,” she said.
Most of the students taking the trip are involved in other school activities. Six of them just finished performing in the high school musical, “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” last week. Senior Clayton Santillo, who is going along with his twin, Kyle, estimated that the students taking the trip all had averages in the high 90s.
He added that students in Ms. Galvin’s classes are well prepared for the challenges of communicating in another country. The class has taken field trips to see Spanish plays and other cultural events that let them hone their language skills. “She takes us to restaurants, to Meson Olé, and we order in Spanish,” he said. “Ms. Galvin is so good.”
The students have held car washes, raffles and a quesadilla fiesta to raise money for the trip.
At $3,000 a student, the trip carries a hefty price tag, but the travelers said it would be a bargain for all the experiences it promises. And the group rate is “a lot less expensive than to just go with your family,” said senior John Bradley.
Ms. Galvin has taken her students to five Spanish-speaking places over the years, including Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and Spain through a student tour company called Explorica.
“I always had it in mind that I wanted my students to explore various Spanish-speaking countries,” said Ms. Galvin. “This time I wanted them to go somewhere that had a more European flavor, but I wasn’t ready to go back to Europe.”