Spain and Ecuador Exchange Programs
Every year, high school students have the option to participate in a two-week exchange experience with students from Colegio Menor San Francisco, in Ecuador. This unique and immersive experience reinforces students’ Spanish language skills, exposes them to the vibrant Latin American culture, and affords them the opportunity to explore areas of cultural and historical significance throughout the region, in addition to their academic studies at Colegio Menor. Every other year this trip includes a five-day visit to the Galapagos Islands.
Families also have the opportunity to initiate a longer exchange, be it a trimester or a summer in Ecuador or Spain. Our Spanish faculty members have contacts with a variety of independent schools in these two countries and facilitate the initial communication in order to start the process. MCDS supports and encourages student involvement in these experiences, and faculty provide the necessary academic assistance for student success before, during, and after the trip.
Japanese Exchange Program
Madison Country Day School offers an opportunity that is unique to schools across the state of Wisconsin: the chance to spend three months studying at a Japanese high school. Through the arrangement that MCDS shares with our sister school, Hakuoh High School in Ashikaga, students in the Japanese program can attend school and live with a host family, all while improving their language skills and broadening their understanding of Japan. Moreover, they come to further comprehend their roles as global citizens and their own potentials as young adults.
MCDS also has a two-week program in Japan. This study abroad experience, which takes place every other summer, enables students to spend a week in Ashikaga, living with a host family and attending Hakuoh. The second week of the program involves educational travel to destinations such as Kyoto and Hiroshima. The summer program, though shorter than the three month program, also allows students to expand their linguistic and cultural knowledge and, just as importantly, see the world and themselves in a new light.
Testimonial from a three-month study-abroad student, writing shortly after he began his experience:
It’s one thing to hear about the culture and speak the language; it’s another to see it first hand. In only a month, being an exchange student in Ashikaga has changed my perspective of both the world and how I define myself. It’s strange, but snug at home we develop a routine and often forget about the world around us. Only when we are shaken out of it – when we travel somewhere new and completely different are we thrown into culture shock. These last few weeks I’ve learned more about Japanese life than I could ever take from any textbook. As one of the other exchange students so brilliantly put it: “Japanese life is taking everything you know and holding it up to a mirror. Everything is the same but different.” The food is different, school life is different, beds are changed to futons…even the way we bathe is so completely foreign.
Every day we ride the train to school with hundreds of other Japanese students in blazers and skirts. Japan is a very homogenous country, especially in smaller towns inland, so foreigners stand out. Everyone is bright and friendly, communicating in broken English and Japanese slang. I’m often stopped on the side of the road or thrown into conversations that I’d never even thought of outside of the textbook. Any stereotypes I had about the Japanese were shaken the first day of school. Japanese students are just as rebellious and jovial as any American student. They joke around during lunch and run around campus shouting and laughing. I’ve learned the school anthem, Japanese sign language, cooking Japanese cuisine, and more about myself through all these experiences. I cannot recommend the exchange program more highly. Here I’ve made memories and friends I’ll never forget.