Ogden Preparatory Academy students improve Spanish skills with trip to Spain

Apr 27 2012 - 1:32am


Roman Wall Avila. Ogden Prep students who went to Spain. (Contributed Photo)
Roman Wall Avila. Ogden Prep students who went to Spain. (Contributed Photo)
Roman Wall Avila. Ogden Prep students who went to Spain. (Contributed Photo)
Roman Wall Avila. Ogden Prep students who went to Spain. (Contributed Photo)

OGDEN -- All Kord Cook was trying to communicate, in dramatic teenage style, was that he was "dying from hunger."

"They only eat three times a day in Spain," said Kord, 14, of Ogden, who recently spent 11 days in Spain with classmates from Ogden Preparatory Academy. "I'm used to snacks."

What Kord did, in fact, was explain to his new friends that he was "urinating of hunger."

"They were like, 'What?,' and this guy turned around from eating," said Kord. "It was embarrassing."

But improving Spanish skills was what the trip was all about. Twelve students -- one eighth-grader and 11 ninth-graders -- were accompanied by Rosa Davila and Yira Fernandez Yoggerst, who are Spanish teachers at Ogden Preparatory Academy, a Spanish-immersion school.

"They are wonderful kids, and they learned so much," Yoggerst said.

Students spent five days studying at the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca, Yoggerst said. The remaining time was spent touring major cities, including Madrid, Toledo and Segovia.

Salamanca was a big labyrinth," said Chelsea Johnson, 14, of South Ogden. "We got lost a lot in Salamanca. And people don't use cars, they walk."

Eighth-grader Abdiel Vazquez, 13, of North Ogden, didn't mind the walking.

"The cobblestone gives you a foot massage," he said. "And you see more. We saw lots of cultures living together, Jewish and Muslim. You could walk and see different buildings that showed they have lived in peace for centuries."

Principal Kathy Thornburg said the trip, funded by individual students and a few school fundraisers, taught more than language.

"It gave a new perspective on culture and art, and that people are people wherever you go," she said. "It's something they will never forget."

Hollee Gehrett, 14, Ogden, said she enjoyed seeing paintings in person that most people only see reproduced in books or in classroom presentations.

Jaden Ward, 14, of Clinton, appreciated the emphasis on art.

"They are more focused on the arts and expressing themselves in other ways besides violence," he said. "The sculptures and paintings were amazing. "

Kord enjoyed the classic architecture.

"Here, when we have an old building, we tear it down," he said. "Most of our oldest buildings are 50. Theirs are hundreds or thousands of years old."

Linsey Sosa, 16, of Ogden, is used to hearing Spanish at home.

"They talk faster and more formally, and with less slang," she said. "Here, we use more slang."

Chelsea is not a native speaker.

"It was so nice the first time I ordered food and they actually brought me what I wanted," she said, with a laugh.

Abdiel made some Facebook friends he hopes to stay in touch with. His host family had a hard time saying goodbye.

"They said they hoped they would miss our bus so we would have to stay," he said.

Kord's host family all but adopted him.

"They called me their 'big blond baby,'" he said.

Brett Butler, of Ogden, turned 15 in Spain.

"It was my best birthday," he said. "It was just amazing to be in a completely different country. We went to the college cafeteria, and we had cake that night, and sweet roles with cream and homemade pizza."

However, Brett was slightly scarred by a linguistic mishap from earlier in the trip.

"I was asking for water, and for 'for,' I used the word for a female dog," he said. "My host family looked away, and Abdiel corrected me. It was really bad. So I learned a word I won't be using again."

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