PERU — St. Bede Academy is currently hosting 14 young students from Mexico, who are here to experience American culture first-hand and get a better grasp on the English language. They are also having a lot of fun while doing so.
The students, whose ages range from 9 to 14 years old, come from private schools located in Toluca and Metepec, Mexico.
The students are accompanied by chaperones Luz Camila Diaz, Yara Gonzalez Cuenca and Angeles Diaz Vega.
Staff and students at St. Bede have planned numerous activities and day trips for them to experience during their three-week stay.
Vega played a leading role in putting together this camp for the students, after sending her son to St. Bede.
She said after seeing the impressive opportunities and academics it had to offer, she sat down with St. Bede Superintendent Ted Struck and talked about providing a way to expose young students to the academy to get a taste of what an American private school has to offer.
“We always had a dream about summer camps, but we had never been in touch with any (American) schools,” she said.
Vega explained parents in Mexico strive to send their students to America to study, become accustomed to the culture and improve their English speaking skills.
“In Mexico, the majority wants students to study English. Everybody teaches English because it’s the language that moves the world,” she explained. “In Mexican universities, the students have to speak English. If not, you can not get a good job.”
St. Bede camp coordinator Eve Postula explained this opportunity is a win-win situation for both the Mexican students and St. Bede.
“We have an interest in opening up our doors and bringing more students in because we feel the diversity we’re offering to the local community kids is really another unique feature for St. Bede,” she said. “The students from Mexico are a wonderful fit with the St. Bede students. They have a lot of similarities, and they are finding that out, which is really nice. Being from Catholic backgrounds and Catholic families, they fit in well with our student population.”
During their stay, the campers are taught religion, structured ESL (English as a Second Language) classes and get to intermingle with local St. Bede students to improve conversation skills. They will also be paired up in St. Bede’s summer volleyball and swimming camps, among many more ongoing activities around the campus.
“We’re using the resources and the things we have here and exposing these students to it,” Postula explained. “It’s very interesting because we didn’t know what to expect when the students got here and how open and outgoing they would be with intermingling with the St. Bede students. But they have just been so inquisitive and want to talk, and it makes it fun and easy because they want to do everything we have planned.”
Outside of the academy’s campus, the campers take day trips to places like Great America, Echo Bluff and Chicago, for a day of sightseeing all the major attractions.
“We have to mix joy and education because they are young,” Vega said. “But they are having a wonderful time with the American kids and are starting to talk with them more each day. Their young age is very important because they catch everything.”
Most of the students have been to America, whether it was a trip to Disney World or to places around the Mexican/U.S. border, but most have never been this far north in America.
“This is completely different here. We visited Chicago, and it was amazing and very different to El Paso, Texas, “ Vega said.
Cuenca agreed and pointed out how much better the hospitality is in this area.
“I want to thank the academy for all their support and hospitality, and I am really surprised at the quality of their services,” she said.
Vega is already looking into next summer’s camp, which is expected to grow and include more than 30 campers.
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