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The Student News Site of Walnut Hills High School

The Chatterbox

The Student News Site of Walnut Hills High School

The Chatterbox

Beyond our borders: Students study abroad

Over the summer, 21 WHHS students received scholarships to travel to countries including Germany, France, Spain and the Dominican Republic. The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), a nonprofit study abroad program with the goal of connecting different cultures, awarded them a total of $48,000. Both language programs, including Spanish, French and German, as well as theme programs including fashion, public health and marine biology were offered.

Maddie Hutzel: Dominican Republic

Photo used with permission from Magnolia Birch

Maddie Hutzel, ‘25, spent four weeks in Santiago, Dominican Republic studying leadership and public health. Hutzel had never taken a Spanish class, but she was excited to learn on her trip.

“We had two classes every week designated to public health. Then we also had three Spanish classes [a week] to learn the language,” Hutzel said. 

Hutzel got to visit three different NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), and interviewed different doctors and nurses at those organizations for an end-of-program project. Apart from assignments, Hutzel also got to travel outside of Santiago.

“For the overnight trip, we went to Sosúa. It’s a beach town,” Hutzel said. “We stayed there for two nights, three days. We stayed at a resort and it was so nice having the beach right there.”

Other than the sightseeing, one of Hutzel’s favorite parts of the trip was the food.

“[I ate] beans and rice for every lunch. My host mom always said that if you eat beans and rice everyday, that you get all your food groups,” Hutzel said. “[For breakfast] she either made cereal, pancakes or French toast with a side of mangoes. I thought the food was so good. I loved it.”

Hutzel recommends the program to other students.

“You meet so many new people from around the U.S. with different backgrounds, and it’s just really cool to get to know people and then to experience this amazing experience with them,” Hutzel said.

Sarah Gebremeskel: Germany

Photo used with permission from Sarah Gebremeskel, ’25

Sarah Gebremeskel, ‘25, spent June studying German language and culture in Berlin, Germany. Gebremeskel’s passion for the German language started almost ten years ago.

“I really love German, probably even more now that I went,” Gebremeskel said. “I enjoy learning about it and I like being able to grow in my German speaking skills.”

Compared to other major cities, Gebremeskel felt Berlin was a safe environment.

“I really liked being able to ride the public transit and learning how that [worked] in a place where it’s super reliable and common,” Gebremeskel said. “I [was also] able to run with airpods in and I knew that nothing was going to happen because it’s just not like that there.”

Gebremeskel enjoyed her ventures outside of the city.

“We went to Potsdam which is a city in Germany that’s really historical, and popular and very scenic,” Gebremeskel said. “We went to Görlitz, which is also in Germany, but it’s right on the border of Poland. So we just went to Poland for dinner one day. That was cool, too.”

Gebremeskel believes that as far as safety and logistics, Berlin is the best language program.

“I thought it was a great opportunity,” Gebremeskel said. “I would consider it the best month of my life.”

Autumn Hay: Spain

Autumn Hay, ‘25, spent the summer studying Mediterranean marine ecosystems and sustainability in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. 

“I chose this specific location in Spain because I wanted a mix of both culture and language and the marine biology aspect,” Hay said.

Contrary to the other CIEE scholars, Hay had some doubts about the program.

“[My host mom] just didn’t like kids at all. It was a super weird situation, but I know a lot of other kids in this specific program [who] had unfortunate homestays where their host families would ignore them,” Hay said. “There were some that were absolutely amazing, but that’s the only reason I’m hesitant [to recommend this program].”

Hay found that a lot of natives would automatically switch to English when conversing with her. 

“The place I went to was a very big, touristy destination. So, in all the shops and all the restaurants people spoke English,” Hay said. “I would say my [Spanish] listening [skills] improved significantly. My speaking, on the other hand, did not.”

Despite the difficulties Hay had with her trip, she still had some memorable moments. 

“We went to a national resort [called] Dragonair Island, which is extremely difficult to get into and [there were] lizards everywhere and you would put your hands down and they would come crawling all over you,” Hay said. “They made an effort to take us to places that you wouldn’t normally be able to [go to].”

The experience of going to another country is something Hay says she’ll never forget.

“I thought it was really cool to be able to be independent and essentially live on my own,” Hay said.

Tamara Munoz: France

Photo used with permission from Penda Sall

Tamara Munoz, ‘24, studied French language and culture in Paris, France this summer. Munoz’s favorite part of her trip was the excursions they did.

“After classes, we would go to places that they chose. They’d be like, ‘Okay, today we’re going to this museum or today we’re going to this other spot,’” Munoz said. “I really liked that combined with the free time that we had.” 

One of her favorite trips was to Suze, a commune in the foothills of the Alps.

“Suze was a day trip, and we went on this bus for a couple hours,” Munoz said. “We got off and [there] was this beautiful garden, a castle basically, and we toured it on the inside.”

There was still plenty for Munoz to admire inside Paris.

“Our school was a couple minutes walk to the Seine river and my friends and I would just sit at the edge of the Seine and eat lunch,” Munoz said.

Munoz enjoyed the trip and the independence she had experienced.

“We could go anywhere and it could be really far because we’d go on the metro with our bus cards that they gave us,” Munoz said. “It was really fun just going everywhere. The freedom was great.”

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Maya Sampath, News and Features Writer
In her second year as a Chatterbox staff member, Maya Sampath is thrilled to work as a News and Features Writer. She aspires to continue developing her writing and researching skills as well as interact with WHHS diverse student body.  Sampath also plays for the girls’ soccer team, is co-president of Model United Nations, and is Vice President of the Class of 2025 Student Council.  Sampath hopes to major in political science and possibly become a lawyer.  In her free time, Sampath enjoys baking and listening to artists such as Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers.
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