In the early hours of Monday 14 March, 31 Spanish high school exchange students arrived at Lawnswood School from Renedo, near Santander, to meet up with their exchange partners. A year in the planning, families of year 9, 10 and 11 pupils at Lawnswood School played host to the Spanish students for a week, whilst they sampled the delights of some of the best that Yorkshire has to offer: Haworth, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Trinity Shopping Centre, the City of York…and not forgetting a day spent in lessons at Lawnswood School with their exchange partners.
This is the second year that Lawnswood families have hosted students from the Spanish school IES Valle de Pielagos, with whom they now maintain excellent links. Lawnswood year 10 pupils had already been to Santander in October 2015 to stay with Spanish families and this was the return visit of the exchange.
“I love the exchanges – this is the second year that I have taken part,” enthused a year 10 pupil, “The experience is so valuable as it gives us an insight into another culture and a chance to temporarily immerse ourselves in another language.”
So successful is the exchange that some students have already taken the opportunity to travel to and from Santander independently, following their visit last year, to meet up with their partners and their families.
It was with heavy hearts that they said farewell to their friends from IES Valle de Pielagos and after many tears and promises to keep in touch, the Spanish group set off for home, via Manchester Airport, on Sunday 20 March. This was not to be the end of their adventure in England however! Unfortunately their 6pm flight was cancelled due to a French air traffic control strike, leaving the Spanish group stranded and having to spend the night in Altrincham. After the Spanish sent out an appeal for help on twitter #flytobilbao they received messages not only from parents and school friends, but also Spanish footballers. Twenty four hours after setting off from Leeds, the Spanish students and their three teachers, finally set off to Renedo on an epic coach journey. Sixty hours after they originally set off from Leeds the Spanish students arrived safely home to be greeted by applause from their families and teachers.
A special mention needs to be given to Peter Calvert of Tesco in Altrincham, who came the aid of the Spanish visitors, providing them with food, drink and snacks for their journey home.