By: Ellie Plummer and Katherine Willcockson, Feature Writers of
JJP: The Middle (A Publication of Pershing Middle School; Houston, Texas)
Adventure, education, and a colorful history are just a few ways to describe Proyecto Extremadura. Ms. Aguilar has run this amazing program for her middle school students since 2013, and helped to enhance students learning across the world.
One of the largest parts of the project is the annual trip to Spain and the surrounding areas. When visiting these culturally different and diverse neighborhoods, students are enabled to learn in ways that aren’t exhibited in the classroom. Going to places that are studied in textbooks and diving into the history and language can be the critical concept that a student needs.
In each of her Spanish classes, eight graders are given pen pals from a school in Spain (Extremadura). Ms. Aguilar’s students write their letters in Spanish while the opposite group writes in English. Using this method the kids in both America and Spain are able to learn slang, conversation ticks, and many other things that are essential to speaking fluently. Some of the Pandas involved say that they enjoy hearing about the everyday activities of their peers in Spain and even started to genuinely bond with their pen pal.
Not only does this project enhance students’ education, but it also helps to spread environmental awareness. While in Spain, the group of teens and adults from Pershing plants trees to improve the air quality and regrow forests. By doing all the service work that they can, Ms. Aguilar’s groups have spread the word and exhibited a behavior for many to mimic.
“A project of friendship and environmental awareness with history and cultural highlights”: These are the words that Ms. Aguilar uses to describe her phenomenal project. Not only do students get to learn about a different culture, they also get to help the community and experience everyday life.
*Ellie and Katherine are two Spanish students that will soon be writing to their pals this year. Ms. Aguilar
Note: This year, my seventh and eighth grade students will participate in the pen pal project. Students and their parents may visit their pen pals and do a service project in Villafranaca de los Barros, Extremadura, during our Spring-Break tour.
Our customized tour, made possible by Explorica Educational Travel, will include Madrid, Trujuillo, Merida, Villafranca de los Barros, Burguillos del Cerro, Seville and Malaga. Any person interested in participating in our tour may contact me at the email on the Contact page of this blog.