On April 11, 21 Mineola learners and 2 teachers arrived at United Lisbon International School (ULIS) exhausted from the overnight flight but excited for the week ahead with their host families. The group, led by ULIS ambassador and Mineola teacher, Paul Pereira, included 15 students that had hosted our students in the Fall during phase I of the ULIS-MHS Exchange as well as 6 additional students.
The group hit the ground running on their first full day with a visit to the beautiful medieval town of Obidos and the impressive Convent of Mafra. Over the next week the students mixed visits to the beautiful sights of Lisbon and its surroundings with opportunities to develop close friendships with their new friends. Highlights included a visit to the historic city center of Sintra as well as a tour of the magnificent Pena Palace, a VIP tour of S.L. Benfica's Estadio da Luz, a Primeira League soccer match at Sporting C.P. stadium, a visit to to Lisbon's historic center including St. Jorge's Castle, a VIP visit to the Portuguese Parliament hosted by Antonio Malo de Abreu (member of Parliament), and, on the last day, a visit to the awesome Lisbon Oceanarium. The Mineola students also attended classes with their ULIS hosts and dove right into the experience.
The official itinerary was closed out with a farewell cocktail party hosted by Chitra and Roman Stern at Martinhal Residences. There the students reflected on and shared their amazing experiences during this exchange initiative. It was clear to all that although the exchange was coming to an end, the friendships and memories were not.
When the students departed on April 18, there were many tears shed on both sides but with promises of return visits in the near future. Experiences like this take a lot of time, work, and effort. This phase of the exchange would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of Francisco Rocha and Raquel Paixao who have been coordinating it for months and gave up much of the Easter break to accompany the group every day. The parents that volunteered to host also deserve a big thank you for taking on this responsibility.
Although teaching and learning in a traditional academic setting is important, learning outside the classroom through endeavors like this exchange is just as invaluable. This opportunity allowed for students from different cultures and different backgrounds to come together to develop a deeper understanding of each others experiences. We are all better for it because of experiences like this.
Click here to view the photo slideshow.
Date Added: 4/25/2023