Press release from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School
Between October 31 and November 11, two groups of students and chaperones from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School took a closer look at the culture and languages of two far-off lands — by traveling to China and Peru, as part of World Language Immersion trips organized by RFH faculty member Michel Salazar.
Making the trip to Peru were 30 students and six chaperones – including Salazar, RFH Principal Dr. Tracy Handerhan, and World Language Teachers Christina Gauss, Daniella Goodarz, Seth Herman, and Yannell Maglione. The student contingent included sophomores Juliana Balaban-Kroll, Sebastian Buckley, Julia Handerhan, Brian Incremona Jr., Leo Maita, and Emma Singleton; juniors Abigail Drummond, Olivia Flippo, Julia Gagliano, Giavana Hanna, Mariah Parsons, Emily Ross, Jane Russo, Natalie Santos, Brittany Schmell, Paige Venancio, Isabella Vernon, Megan Volker, and Emily Weis; and seniors Emily Boak, Tess Chandler, Heather Culver, Kelly Danaher, Jordanna Drazin, Maren Gierlatowicz, Meghan O’Connor, Jenna Sandoli, Katherine Sustick, and Christina Tardiff.
RFH students traveling to China included sophomores Jessica Browne, Jenna Hawke, Nicholas Longo, Henry Manelski, Peter Maris, Camryn Pecyno, Lily Perrine, John Presti, Emma Singleton, and Christopher Steinhacker; juniors Katherine Amendola, Amanda Keighron, Julia Klem, Emily Oberlander, Avery Wall, and John Woods III; and seniors Sharon Brownstein, Colin Courchesne, Kevin Gallagher, Willis Manelski, Gabrielle Ramirez, and Isabelle Slavin. The 22 students were accompanied by four chaperones – RFH English Teacher Kathryn Borsuk, Superintendent Dr. Peter Righi, and World Language Teachers Rebecca Wang and Matthew Yang.
The Peru group arrived at Cusco Airport, and was transported to Maximo Nivel (Spanish School). During their stay, the students volunteered at a local orphanage for a full week for four hours each day, participating in a variety of educational and recreational activities. They also studied advanced-level conversational Spanish for two hours every day, and dined at local restaurants in addition to sharing meals with their host families.
Special activities included tours of Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley (with stops in Pisac, Urubamba, and Chinchero), Qoricancha Museum, and Ollantaytambo. The students also participated in a “Day of the Dead” cemetery tour and visited the world-famous Christoblanco statue atop the mountain overlooking Cuzco.
“You just can’t put into words how amazing working with the children was,” said senior Heather Culver. “All of them were so happy and appreciative, it made saying ‘goodbye’ nearly impossible.”
In fact, the visiting students haven’t really “said goodbye” to the Peruvian children. Students in the RFH Spanish National Honor Society and their advisor Christina Gauss are currently planning a fundraiser to support the orphanage. They will be raising money to help provide curtains needed for their seven houses, or “casitas,” of the orphanage.
The China group first arrived in Beijing, where they enjoyed an excursion to the Great Wall and also visited the Forbidden City and Tian Tan Temple (Temple of Heaven). After a three-day stay, the students and chaperones traveled by train to the ENTEL Foreign Language School in Hangzhou. There they were hosted by and interacted with local families and took part in classes and other school activities.
The last leg of the trip was a visit to Shanghai and tours of Old Town, Nanjing Road, and the Shanghai Museum, as well as a boat cruise on the Huangpu River.
“The school trip to China provided me with the opportunity to broaden my cultural horizons,” said senior Colin Courchesne. “It’s one thing to read about a foreign land in the news, but it’s another thing entirely to see it first-hand, to be given the chance to interact with and appreciate something completely unique from our usual way of life.”