After 2 weeks living with Auburn host families and experiencing as much of the U.S. as possible, 17 Madrid, Spain high school students headed home on Saturday afternoon.  by all accounts, the first phase of this exchange was an outstanding success.

“Everything” replied Manuel Martinez when asked his favorite experience during the exchange.  Though, when pressed, Martinez admitted that seeing a Red Sox game at Fenway Park was likely his highlight.  Martinez’ hosts, AHS student Tom Gannon and family, were clearly working hard to make this an easy good-bye.  But Tom was having a bit of an easier time than his mother.  “I get to go see Manuel in April.  It’s a long way off, but it will come fast.”

This coming April, the host student from Auburn High will travel to Madrid to spend two weeks in Spain with their new friends.  So while there were many hugs exchanged and some tears shed, the parting was bittersweet.

Isabelle Azar, also from Madrid, stayed with Emily Fokas and family.  Like nearly all of the Spanish students, Azar replied that “everything” was her favorite experience.  Fokas had no hesitation about what she looked forward to most during her April return visit, “Shopping in Madrid!  Well, seeing Isabelle is number one.”

Spanish teacher and AHS Foreign Language Chair Dan Creamer had numerous activities planned for the students.  There were trips to New York City and Boston.  “It is just great to experience firsthand the different cultures” said Kelsey Letson, whose family hosted Luis Clavo.

Most of the Spanish students had been to the United States before.  “It is different staying with a family and living here.  That’s different than a vacation in a hotel.  Even if it’s a short stay” said Irene Martin. “My English definitely improved a lot while I was here” she added.  Martin stayed with Amanda Bylund and family while in Auburn.

Joanne Burke, mother of Ryanne and Erin Burke, said of her guest “It was unforgettable.”  The Burkes actually hosted two boys for the two weeks. “A lot of the kids stayed together and they came over a lot.  They would just hang out at the houses.  It was wonderful to have them.  It is going to be too quiet!” Burke added.