Orono Takes on Chile and Argentina


Claire Hyrkas

Students travel to experience Chile and Argentina during the 2023 year!

As we near the end of this school year we approach a new one-which brings many new and great opportunities to Orono students. One of next year’s annual activity has been very highly anticipated.

“This is the third attempt on this trip,” teacher Robert Smalling said.

With the ample failures that the Spanish department has endured in preparation for this Spanish trip, COVID-19 has been at the top of that list. Students and teachers are thrilled to finally be able to visit the spanish speaking countries, Chile and Argentina.

Preparation for these trips is important and essential in order for everything to run smoothly. Smalling even said he does a lot of planning and studying before going on these trips. Smalling has been to 16 other spanish speaking countries in his lifetime; he has gone on them for family vacations and even past school trips.

Smalling gave insight as to how much one of these school trips might cost, estimating the total being around $4,500. The steep price is because of flights and the experiences that one might be paying for if they were to go on a trip like this.

The school has organized these trips with a travel agency called Xperitas which is located in Minneapolis and is a non-profit immersion travel group that focuses on promoting enriching cultural experiences.

“We’ve traveled with the same company for nearly seven or eight trips,” Smalling said.

Xperitas prides themselves for selecting host families that are motivated by the simple nicety of sharing their homes with students so that they might experience a new home, language and culture. Students will spend part of their trip living with a host family and the other part staying with the Orono group.

“It’s the most authentic experience that we can offer students,” Smalling said.

Oftentimes meeting new people enriches students’ experience with the language that is spoken in these countries. This trip is only allowed to students who will be in Spanish three or four next year or have taken AP Spanish; these are the students who have a significant amount of Spanish speaking hours under their belt from classes and now they would finally be allowed to apply it in the world.

“It helped my Spanish so much,” Orono’s youth development coordinator Genna Torney said.

The Chile-Argentina 2023 trip itinerary gave a great insight as to where and what students will be doing in their time. Students will be going on this trip for an exciting 12 days around June 9 next year. By the second day of their trip they will be visiting Santiago, Chile and exploring the Plaza de Armas, Mercado Central and Palacio de la Moneda.

Students will be able to take tours of some of Santiago’s neighborhoods and will get to take a gander at all the souvenir shops they see. Though, the entire trip won’t just be dedicated to shopping but also taking in impactful places like the Museum of Memory and Human Rights.

Students will spend around five days in Chile, experiencing many more incredible sites. Then they will be flying over to Argentina for the second half of their trip. In Cordoba, Argentina students will be able to finally meet their host families; that they would have already been in communication with for months prior to the trip.

While, in Argentina, in addition to meeting their host families, students will get to see the mountain town of Alta Gracia, enjoy a picnic on the shore of Lake Tajamar, look at all the breathtaking views of colonial architecture and even participate in horse riding at a local ranch.

After all that excitement ensues, students will at long last be saying goodbye to their 2023 Spanish trip and head home to reunite with family and friends.