Monday, May 27, 2013

The final AFS Orientation

May 11 and 12th we had our last AFS orientation with all of the students in Castilla y León. For this one, we were joined by Spanairds that also live in Castilla y León that will be going on exchange this year. There were about 20-25 of usin all, and we were pretty equally split up, too. However, the two groups were separated for the majority of the weekend.  

I didn´t really get much out of this orientation, it was just an opportunity to see my friends for the weekend. It is funny because I feel like at every orientation we do fewer activities and have more free time (which I am totally for). I also think the majority of the things we did were for the “sending” students and to help them prepare to leave. 

On Saturday, we did this activity that I think was really interesting for us “Hosting” to watch, although we definitely had a lot of fun doing it. First thing the volunteer did was explain that we will be playing a tribe with strange signals for communicating, a special sound to indicate we were speaking to one another, and we would be putting on a welcoming ceremony for the Sending students. We picked Emils as King, Paige as Queen, and Esther as the queen´s assistant. We created our signal for yes, our signal for no, and our speaking noise. Then they explained to us how the “Welcoming Ceremony” would go and we learned the different customs we have as a tribe with the different rituals we do. So, we practiced and practiced to make sure everyone understood what they had to do. They had fabric and face painting crayons so we could get all dressed up, and then we were ready. The Sending students walked into the rooms and were shocked at how we were set up: all in a circle with candles and dimmed lights, the men sitting on chairs, the women sitting on the floor without shoes, and of course our clothes and makeup. Before we could begin our ceremony, they had to observe how we were and adapt to it. That basically consisted in how we were seated because the girls all went straight for the chairs when they saw them. Let´s just say it took a long for everyone to figure it out and then there was this one girl left who was sitting on the chair for a solid 5 more minutes before she understood what was happening. We did the ceremony, which the sending had participated in. They thought it was ridiculous and weird, but I think they learned a good lesson about what they will be faced with when they go on exchange: can´t judge or make assumptions, must observe, must respect the other culture, and most importantly, that they are the ones that have to adapt and conform to the new culture and customs.

On Sunday, we Hosting students didn’t really feel like doing the assigned activities so we ended just sitting outside in a circle and going one by one sharing about our experiences. I think that is better, anyways, becuase we have been with eachother since the beginning, so it´s fascinating to hear how other students have changed, grown, and their overall expierence

After that, they told us that the parents of the Sending students were there and we needed to put ourselves into groups, make a poster and give a presentation. We had to imagine that we were going to give it at a school about AFS in general and why a family (whether they were in sending their child or hosting a student) should choose AFS. I´m sure it was also a way to make us feel more confident with our Spanish because it can be nerve-wracking speaking in another language to a big group of adults.

All in all, it was a pretty fun weekend, although equally sad because we all know that all we have left together is the night in Madrid before we have to take our plane home to our respective countries. 

In other news: Not this weekend, but the weekend after, I will be traveling to Logroño (located in the top center of Spain) to visit my friend Marianne (who I talked quite a bit about in my Camino de Santiago blog post) for the weekend!! I am seriously just so excited to see her, and of course it will be fun to visit another city and travel some more! I get back on Monday night and then Thursday at 3am I will be traveling with my class to Berlin and Prague for the week, which I am also so incredibly excited about!!

I have one month left, it is such a sad reality...but I am making the most of it and enjoying the rest of my time here.

Now here are some pictures from the orientation

basically half the pictures taken at the AFS functions are similar to this, it´s just how it is 

the whole group (with sending kids)

These people have become like a big family

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