Final post

We are working on next years trip. Please send some constructive feedback for us about your experiences with the Capstone Trip that can help with making decisions and planning for next year. You can comment or email me at Being part of this has been an incredible learning journey that as part of the next group is very valuable:

Some lessons learned:
* have teachers be more involved. Sara Matano has joined in on the process.
* this year we have an RFP, for trip providers.
* fundraising requirements


Have a happy first day of High School!!

Jesse Rader


Final leg

We are boarding to Portland, flight was delayed but should get in at 11:50 pm. The kids have been really good getting home but I am sure they are tired.

Week 2 In Review

Love checking in with the kids to how their weekend was spent…….Rastros (market), pool, movies, playing soccer……

The first two days this week was spent at the Gredos “Outdoor school ”






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Then a half day to prepare them for our trip to Toledo….. Plus learning how things work in the kitchen








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They could not plan a better excursion to end the trip than a trip with their host counterparts than a trip to Aquapolis, I have few pictures as I myself had fun……



A final weekend with the families and the journey back to Portland…..for the kids, it is onward to high school…………. Have a happy rest of your summer!!

The Week in Review: Week 1

Imagine yourself 13-14 years old in a foreign country, trying to speak the language with a cooperative school. They have excursions planned and you board the Metro for the first time. You are excited to get out and see the Prado and Parque de Retiro. Excited that the entire group will be together. (Reunited and it feels so good!) You switch to three different lines before you reach your destination and the the teacher says that they hope you were paying attention as everyone is on their own to find their way back…..


What he did not say is that on the way back, they take a different station, one line and impossible to make any mistakes on which train to take. Relief!!




Museo Prado

Museo Prado

The kids are exploring the city….learning about art, history, culture, revisiting and perfecting their language skills because the teachers see which areas in speaking they are struggling with, though some get frustrated, they come back and try again. Each day better than the day before.

Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor

One thing I note, is how special this is for both the kids and Miss Matano. These kids love her, as she does them. There is a sense of pride for her to share in this experience with them.
Also surprise encounters with Don Jose and Sr. Otero…you can tell the teachers that have impacted these kids. Priceless!! (Too bad no photos en el Museo).


We end our week with community service working with the Elderly at Los Balcones. They were prepared for us………Los chicos went from being a little scared, …….to leaving with smiles on their faces…… The precious part was learning that their presence was the first step in making someone’s day!! They may say that all they did was talk, color, sit, and played games, what I saw was generational respect, listening, giving their time, working on fine motor skills, assisting in rehabilitation and exercises with purpose. I was so proud of them……..but here children are a reflection of their parents, so a toast to you!!







The Los Balcones staff made three tortillas de patata, which the kids love and devoured. With almost every culture “Food is love!”…….. So start cooking…

And Ice cream is always a nice treat….




They end their week back at the schools, lunch and free time in the swimming pool. All the kids are required to wear swimming caps in the pool. That did not go over well, but they made a go and I promised no pictures!!

……………And now off to their families for another weekend of adventures!!

Gredos San Diego Vallecas

Upon arrival in Madrid on Friday, students were dropped-off at their respective schools to become familiar with the campus and later meet their respective host families. Ten students, with the supervision of Pablo Dipascuale, made GSD Vallecas their new, temporary school. This institution, one of eight throughout the city of Madrid, is responsible for the education of young minds from the early ages of pre-K all the way to high school graduation (beginning with Educación Infantil, later Educación Primaria, then Educación Secundaria, and finally Bachillerato). While Friday afternoon merely consisted of a brief orientation and lunch prior to pick-up, Monday began the work in the classrooms made up of grammar, historical, and cultural lessons. This day also served as a pleasant reunion for the class after each student spent the entire weekend alone with their host-families. The schedule for the first two days of the week were very similar as students were immersed in the classroom sessions led by a Gredos teacher and later were able to partake in service learning opportunities as they assisted in classrooms of ‘Educación Infantil’ and ‘Educación Primaria’. In addition, since this week is the end of the school year for all the youngers at Gredos, the students were able to participate in the viewing party of the end-of-the-year video made-up of students and staff from the GSD Vallecas community (photo attached). The remainder of this week awaits more classroom sessions as well as a couple of outings, including one to see the ‘Museo del Prado’. Paz.

Pablo G. Dipascuale






The First Days at Gredos San Diego Matelez

“My family took me to the city center….I went horseback riding…I rode a Gondola…. went to the Zoo…..I am becoming one with the pool as it is hot….. I have been watching soccer….I forgot … Still can’t get over the phone rule….everyone here watches TV…..we ate paella…..They eat late……we stay up late…. I love the clothes……they live in apartments…..we worked with the little ones and they are so cute in their shirts (uniform).”

Regardless of whether we are rural or in a modern city, the kids are out of their comfort zone, in a place where the language is different, the lifestyle is different, the weather, the hours kept etc…..the kids are realizing that being 14 in Spain, not so much different from their 14-year-old lives at home. same but different. Though they do not have their phones, they are still connected, there are iPhones but most young kids don’t have them, but have one for much the same reasons. This is what the kids report when I talk to them. (I personally note the use of they and we in how they communicate). This is the beginning of the experience for them.

To start, the kids are spending their first two days at language class. They started off try to assess where our children are and ended introducing some new topics. On the second day they talked about slang terms commonly heard in Spain and touched on how they evolved over time. The differences in how you use these terms invoke different meanings good and bad.
They are starting to prepare the kids for the trip tomorrow to the Prado and the Retiro Botanical Gardens. They are introduced to Goya and his works. Alberto is a very dynamic presenter, had the kids engaged, talking, presenting and even threw in some history about Napoleon and references to Saturno and Greek Mythology.


You can tell that the teachers enjoy teaching the kids, I think they are a little nervous because the teachers don’t speak English. Slowly the kids are figuring that there many ways to communicate.

Imagine getting ham similar to prosciutto on a baguette for a snack, Heavenly! The kids are getting used to eating such a big meal at lunch but their biggest attraction seems to be the cafe where they treat themselves to a soda.





Again in the afternoon the kids are again interacting with the different grades today is primary school for gym class. They are playing a game similar to kickball and they are mixed in with them on the teams. The kids seem to enjoy this.




The kids will all be reunited tomorrow and we are all looking forward to that. Pablo will post on Gredos San Diego Vallecas

Our arrival to Madrid and Gredos San Diego

First, I must personally say how impressed I am with this group of kids. This was a long journey getting here with a 4 hour layover in Dallas and everyone entertained, watched over each other, were respectful and helpful in the process. When the plane was delayed an hour, two went up to the desk asked questions and then reported back what to expect. Made our jobs as the chaperones easy.

Amazingly , when we arrived the airport was not busy, customs was smooth, everyone found their bag (helped each other find their bags) and Javier greeted us and we were on our way on a really nice bus to the schools. The kids helped Javier coordinate themselves and introduced who was who. Shinto is his assistant for our group and one of the teachers, she is originally from Indonesia and also has child that attends the school.

It was the last day of school and the kids were receiving their grades. The two schools in the Gredos system that we are attending are 10 minutes apart. Gredos San Diego Vallecas and Moratalaz. We arrived about 1:30 pm and had lunch. Wow, this school system is impressive and it is not a private school. You cannot compare it to anything in Portland. Definitely an example of how a school can be an integral part of the community and family, thinking about education with a lifespan approach integrating all levels of development. At lunch the Gredos kids were interested, excited and asked lots of questions to the kids. Some knew exactly who they were and were asking for names “where is Joe?” Lots of giggles.

After lunch, the kids had free time (recess) where they interacted with some of the kids on the playground. The Gredos girls were trying to get our girls to sing the “cup song ” from Pitch Perfect (in Spanish). Following recess, the kids received a tour of the school to gain familiarity, so much goes on there. Though school is out; they still have the younger grades, a pre school and day care. They will be helping in those classes in groups of three, the first few days. At 3:30, the reports were given and the families came and picked up the kids. To rest, have cena and enjoy their weekends. Lots of smiles, hugs and kisses as entire families came to welcome the kids. They all are part of the school community as some of these kids have been part of this school since they were babies. The families were so welcoming.

So the adventure begins for our kids…….






We have arrived!!

Just a note to let you know that we have arrived safely in Madrid. We are still in the airport so we will post as soon as we can. Everyone is excited!!
Jesse Rader