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9 06, 2016

Preprimary Caribbean Island Festival

By | June 9th, 2016|Global Learning, Parent News|0 Comments

Caribbean.Fest

Each year, the Preprimary holds an annual end-of-year Caribbean Island Festival! The morning includes authentic Caribbean staples and dishes inspired by the Islands of the Caribbean and Central America. Enjoy music, dance and fun. If there is Caribbean-inspired dish you enjoy preparing or eating, please do not hesitate to share it with our community.

Friday, June 10 10:30 a.m. /  Outdoor Learning Space

20 03, 2014

Oaxaca, Days 3-4

By | March 20th, 2014|Experiential Learning, Global Learning|6 Comments

Lucas said today that our first day had been really long, and now everything is going really fast.  Agreed! It’s too fast for this blogger to keep up with it, but on the other hand, we do so much every day, that Sunday seems light years away.
Chocolate1Mexico is the home of chocolate, but as Lucero explained Tuesday evening, Mexicans use chocolate primarily for drinking.  It was the Europeans who invented bonbons.  For celebrations like Dia de las Muertes or birthdays, Oaxacan families go to a mill to purchase freshly ground chocolate, which they take home to make their family’s special chocolate.  We visited a mill to see how the chocolate is ground with cinnamon and nuts and to taste a few samples. Then, with chocolate in hand, we returned to ICO to make our own.  Our two chocolate-averse students had a great conversation with Señora Christina while the rest of us literally got our hands dirty.

 

 

Chocolate3        Chocolate4Chocolate 6

IMG_0636Following classes on Wednesday, we visited the gorgeous display of pre-Colombian art at the Rufino Tomayo museum and then the Soledad Church where we came upon the curious juxtaposed celebrations of Saint Joseph’s Day and the inauguration of a new garbage truck for the city.  This is a city of surprises.   The resulting traffic jam meant a shortened lunch and siesta before taking off for the soccer field and, as the temperature soared into the low 90′s, a hot game of soccer with our intercambio friends. soccer

The heat and the exertion could mean only one thing:  ice cream!  We headed back to the Zocalo to enjoy a relaxing break in the cool of enormous old trees.  Sitting in the cafes, we attract many peddlers, and our Ancona students do a tremendous job of remembering Señora Christina’s admonition to see the humanity in everyone. From the very young to the very old, indigenous people from the pueblos spend their days in the zocalo selling crafts and trying to earn a living.  It can be tempting to feel annoyed by the constant solicitations, but treating everyone with respect is essential.  We’re proud that our students have learned this lesson well.  
Caleb
IMG_0746Saab
Fortified by our ice creams, we headed back to ICO, doing a little shopping (and bargaining) along the way.
TiendaWigs

19 03, 2014

Oaxaca, Days 2-3

By | March 19th, 2014|Experiential Learning, Global Learning|4 Comments

Oaxaca = color.  Coquito and primavera blossoms.

Coquito and primavera blossoms.

Our days in Oaxaca have been so rich and full that it’s hard to believe there have only been two of them.  I looked around on a short bus ride we took this afternoon, and everyone was so happy, I actually felt a little lump in my throat.  Mexico es fabuloso, Caleb told Señora Christina.  And this morning:  It’s all going by too fast.

Our morning check-ins confirm that everyone is doing well.  Students are appreciating the home-cooked meals they’re having in their families; Dallas and Julian are especially excited, because their familia owns a restaurant!  One student pointed out that all of the food is fresh; nothing is processed.  And while breakfasts are different from what we’re used to at home, the beans, tortillas, eggs, cheese and fresh fruit – especially mangoes – are much appreciated.  Because lunches are late at around 2:00, the hearty breakfasts really make a difference.

Ancona students are acute observers.  Several boys noticed how much lower prices are in Mexico and wondered how do the shopkeepers make a profit? Or perhaps we should be asking why are prices so much higher at home?  Caleb was surprised that a man could get on a bus, sing and people would give him money – something he couldn’t imagine happening in the U.S.  And Aiesha, like many other students we’ve taken to Mexico, commented on how friendly people are.

Sarah gets a photography lesson en español.

Sarah gets a photography lesson en español.

Our days begin with Spanish classes at ICO; students are grouped according to their degree of Spanish

Una classe de español

Una classe de español

proficiency.  We’re not the only students at the Instituto; there are students from the U.S., Canada, Germany, Japan and New Zealand. Nemo met one of the Maori high school students who are here for six months – he speaks English, Spanish, French and Japanese in addition to Maori.  Really makes you think about our American educational system’s limited attention to world languages.  The director of their school, himself part-Maori, explained to Señora Christina and I that he chose Spanish as a world language in his school, because it is not a language associated with a race; it is a language spoken by people of many races and nationalities all over the world.  We teach the same idea at Ancona.  Interesante, ¿no?

Sharing conversation with Oaxacan students.

Sharing conversation with Oaxacan students.

Everyone returns to his/her familia for the main meal of the day in the afternoon and then a siesta.  At 4:00, we return to ICO for intercambio, which is a wonderful opportunity for Ancona students to get to know Oaxacan students who are learning English.  They talk about whatever they like, helping each other with the two languages.

After intercambio, it’s time for cultural activities.  Monday we had a salsa lesson outside in the spacious courtyard.  ICO is in the large, gracious hacienda-style home of Lucero’s grandmother — not quite Downton Abbey, but still reminiscent of a very different era.    There were a few reluctant dancers, but everyone was a good sport. It seemed to be great fun for most and maybe a little awkward for some. I am truly impressed with this group’s willingness to cooperate and try even when they might not be totally comfortable.  They are confident risk-takers!

Instituto Cultural de Oaxaca

Instituto Cultural de Oaxaca

Following the Tuesday morning classes, students toured the Cultural Museum of Oaxaca, but I can’t tell you anything about it, because Gilad and I were on a money-changing odyssey, waiting in line in four banks and two currency exchanges until we were finally able to change everyone’s dollars into pesos at a reasonable rate.  Because of the very long, slow immigration line in Mexico City, we didn’t have time exchange in the airport, and dealing with currency limits and getting enough small bills to distribute back to the students was no small feat!  Gilad was in desperate need of a gelato when our ordeal was done. Fortunately, in this beautiful city of outdoor living, that was easily accomplished.

p.s. Parents, we read your comments on the first post to the students, and they loved them.  Keep them coming!

In the zocalo.

In the zocalo.

Only in Oaxaca.

Only in Oaxaca.

19 03, 2014

Oaxaca, Day 1

By | March 19th, 2014|Experiential Learning, Global Learning|0 Comments

We take modern air travel for granted, but it still seems like a miracle  to leave Chicago in a late night snow storm and arrive a mere eight hours later in  tropical Oaxaca, Mexico.   Our 22 intrepid Ancona 8th graders flew through the night and then waited a sleepy 90 minutes in the Immigration line as dawn broke over Mexico City.

Boarding the flight for Oaxaca.
Boarding the flight for Oaxaca.

After the short second flight to Oaxaca, they tumbled out into the bright morning sunshine and walked confidently off with the Oaxacan parents who met us at the airport.  Our adventure had begun.

After settling in at their new homes, getting some much needed sleep and having their first meals with their families, the students gathered at a cafe on Oaxaca’s famous zocalo. It was time to become acquainted with the city that will be our home for a week.  Our students were gradually making the switch to Espanol.  Sarah reported that she had spoken Spanish accidentally, and even in the airport, Julian said it was fun to try to order food in Spanish.

At Cafe La Primavera
At Cafe La Primavera

Oaxaca is a riot of color, filled with myriad new sights, sounds, smells and tastes.  We learned from Lucero, the owner of Instituto Cultural de Oaxaca, that Oaxaca is a completely colonial city, founded by the Spanish, and filled with beautiful colonial architecture.

Cathedral on the Zocalo
Cathedral on the Zocalo

Lucero took us to the great Cathedral on the zocalo and then for a long, slow walk on the Alcala, Oaxaca’s pedestrian mall.  We paid a visit to the Santo Domingo Church where we’re going to return later this week to tour their botanical gardens.  We gradually made our way to El Llana, a wonderful park several blocks long with fountains and plazas where, along with many Oaxacan families out for a Sunday afternoon, we watched children drive small motorized cars, petted puppies and just enjoyed being out in the beautiful weather with each other.  Senora Christina remarked that with no money to spend (we hadn’t been to an exchange), everyone was able to be truly present instead of thinking about what to purchase. (Maybe we should never change money too quickly?)  And we saw nary a cell phone as we settled into being in Oaxaca.

As if to prove the point, Olive asked if she could buy an elote with her change from an airport snack.  For the uninitiated, which included yours truly, elote is roasted sweet corn sprinkled with lime juice, spread with mayonnaise and dipped in parmesan cheese.  As Lucero walked us to her favorite elote stand, Senora Christina spontaneously decided on elotes for all.  It was a fitting cultural cherry on the top of quite an amazing day.  Elotes in hand, we trooped to ICO, the Instituto Cultural de Oaxaca, and as the kids went off for evening with their madres y padres, a stunning, deep orange full moon rose in the East .

Trying out a new treat.
Trying out a new treat.
Dona Angelina's Elotes
Dona Angelina’s Elotes
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2 05, 2013

Moving the World

By | May 2nd, 2013|Diversity and Social Justice, Experiential Learning, Global Learning|1 Comment

The Ancona School Mexico Trip 2013Our annual 8th grade trip to Mexico is a transformative experience for our students. It is an amazing, multifaceted opportunity for language and cultural immersion, and having accompanied the trip several times, I cannot begin to tell you how gratifying it is to see how well our students handle themselves in challenging environs and to literally watch them mature before our eyes. In this final act of our Spanish program, we see our years of cultivating independence and confident risk-taking truly come to fruition.

These trips are rich. Along with Spanish classes, explorations in the Mercado, a tour of pre-Colombian ruins and an outing to unique geological formations, this year’s trip to the city of Oaxaca included a visit to the Fondación en Vía, a microfinancing organization that is affiliated with the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca where our students studied. This beautiful photo shows Joushua, Maria, Amir, Jaylen and Chad with Gloria, a tamale maker in the tiny village of Teotitlán del Valle outside of Oaxaca. She received a $100 grant from the Fondación to finance her tamale business. Gloria invited our students into her home where they witnessed the tamale-making process from start to finish, including, of course, sampling her delicious products.

This trip is the culmination of the experiential, authentic education we offer children for eleven years of their young lives. As they understood the impact microfinancing could have on one woman and her family, Chad suggested that the 7th/8th graders earmark the proceeds from their final Sandwich Shop of the year for the Fondación, and that it what the kids decided to do. I couldn’t be more proud.

Every day, we are teaching our students to translate the wonder of their educations into actions that will move the world. Could there be a more perfect of example of students using the lessons of their Ancona years to impact the lives of others?