Home » News » New London News » New London students visit Panama

New London students visit Panama

The Panama Canal was one of the locations that New London Spanish Club students were able to tour during a trip to Panama in March. Photo courtesy New London School District

Spanish Club’s presentation at school board

By Bert Lehman

In March, 24 students from the New London High School Spanish Club, and four chaperones, traveled to Panama for a trip that lasted nine days and eight nights.

At a special New London School Board meeting May 28, the board received a recap of the trip from Ellen Celske and Michelle Huebner, two high school Spanish teachers.

Celske and Huebner were also chaperones on the trip.

“We’ve taken many trips with students in the past, and I would say, the mix of the culture, and just the excitement of the students, and the hospitality, and the genuine willingness to share all of their country with our students, Panama was amazing,” Celske said.

She added that students stepped out of their comfort zone and embraced “what Panama, as a learning experience, had to offer them.”
Huebner said it was hot in Panama, probably more than they expected.

Celske said the students stayed with host families while in Panama.

“They were in groups of two or three American students per host family,” Celske said. “Which I think was a really humbling and eye-opening experience for students. They all came away on the last day very excited about the experience that they had had with their host family.”

Huebner added, “It was always fun to hear about their nightly adventures the next day.”

While on the trip, the students had the opportunity to spend an afternoon at an orphanage, Celske said.

Other places the students visited during the trip included Panama Canal, La Belleza de Panama, Casco Viejo, and Embera Village.

Board member Mark Grossman asked if students were required to speak Spanish during the trip.

Celske said the students were expected to speak Spanish, and were told by their host families that they didn’t speak any English. Later the students found out the host families did speak English.

“It was kind of a neat experience,” Celske said.

Board Clerk Katie Batten asked if students have stayed with host families during past international trips, or if that was decided by the tour company.

“We’ve done trips where they’re in hotels, and I think in recent years we’ve started to like the host families, just because the kids are much more immersed in the experience,” Celske said.

Grossman asked about the company the district used to plan the trip.

Celske said the company is based out of Green Bay, and only works with Spanish teachers.

“They themselves have taken all of these trips and tours, and they know the host families,” Huebner said. “They know the tour guides.”

Scroll to Top