Walpole High Says ‘Bienvenidos’ to the Costa Rican Exchange Students


The Costa Rican and U.S. students pose for a picture this summer in Costa Rica.

Michele Lucas

The Costa Rican and U.S. students pose for a picture this summer in Costa Rica.
The Costa Rican and U.S. students pose for a picture this summer in Costa Rica.

This summer, 16 Walpole High School students went to Costa Rica as part of an exchange program accompanied by Mr. Sturges and Mrs. Bolino, both Spanish teachers in the Walpole school system. The exchange, which is with the Colegio Bilingue San Augustine in the small town of Palmares, had Walpole high students staying with a family for 2 weeks from July 13-27. Now, it is time to return the favor as the 18 Costa Rican students, or Ticos, are hosted by the students who stayed with them this summer. The Ticos arrive on December 26 with two of their English teachers  and will be staying until January 10.

While in Walpole the Ticos will shadow their host student at school just as the Walpole students did in Costa Rica. Junior Catherine Murphy said, “Their classes are a lot different than ours and a lot less structured but the subjects are the same.” Two of the three times the Ticos will be at the high school and the other time they will be at the middle schools. They have created presentations for the high school spanish classes and rehearsed traditional Costa Rican dances for the middle schools.

As well as visiting Walpole schools, the Ticos and the US students will take a day trip to New York City soon after arriving to see the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, Times Square, Rockerfeller Center, and the Empire State Building. The Ticos will also take several trips to Boston including ones to the Museum of Science, JFK Museum, Harvard Square, the New England Aquarium, Quincy Market, and Blue Man Group. Even with this packed schedule, the host families have certain free days to take their Ticos to visit other states or certain parts of Massachusetts that they believe the students will like.

Most of the Ticos have never seen snow (if we even get any) and are unaware how cold it can be in the winter in New England. To experience winter activities, the Costa Ricans, along with their American hosts, will go skating at the Franklin Memorial Rink and go skiing at Pats Peak. Mr. Sturges, the head coordinator at Walpole, said, “Once they get the hang of it, they think it’s great- just like many of the US students felt about zipling through the canopy this summer.” Murphy said,  “I can’t wait to see them try to skate! It will be a lot of fun.”

The best part of the exchange to Mr. Sturges is “showing the things we like and do here to people who haven’t been to the US before.” The Spanish teacher also believes that the program is beneficial to both the Costa Ricans and the Walpole High students:  “this exchange will help all the students become ‘global citizens’ and further their understanding of the world around them.”