Notes from the 10/1 mandatory meeting

Jill Goldsmith’s meeting notes….

October 1, 2013 meeting notes

Jessie Rader, Trip Liaison

  • October 15 is the deadline to make an application
  • There will be a mandatory student orientation in April 2014 – if you know your child will be unavailable, let Jessie Rader know right away
  • Kids will not be allowed to bring electronics of any sort.  This includes iPods, cell phones.  We want the kids engaged in the trip.
  • Cameras are fine.
  • Chaperones will lay out what the rules are for staying safe.  That will be up to you to follow the rules and stay safe.
  • If you do get lost, you can go to a hotel and ask to use a phone.

John Ferraro

  • Background:  John comes from Jackson Middle School, which had a sister school in China, and his students did home stays in China, and had guests from China come to stay in the students’ homes.  Our children who go on trips are ambassadors:  they represent the families, their schools, their state, their country:  it is important to understand that.
  • Behavior standards:  there are ANDEO behavior standards; this includes not getting expelled from school, no illegal activity, chronic irresponsible or disruptive behavior, suspensions, poor attendance (including cutting or skipping classes); poor recommendation from a teacher.
  • How important is this trip to you, as a student?  Think about that.  Just remember you have a responsibility.  If you are prevented from going on the trip because of your behavior, that will be your responsibility.  John wants high quality students going on the trip; there are a lot of high quality students sitting in this room.

Apoyemos Representative – Jennifer Briglia, President

  • Financial Assistance.  Up to 50% for qualifying families.  There are applications on line.  There are hard copy applications in John Ferraro’s office.  Firm deadline is November 1, 2013.  The money that we use for the financial assistance is the money that the class raised at Salsa in the City.
  • The application process is “blind” – we have a third party financial advisor who is unaffiliated with the school or Apoyemos.  This person makes the recommendations and the process is completely anonymous.
  • Kids should be helping to earn money – this is their trip.

Apoyemos Representative – Marla McLeod-Ali, Trip Liaison

  • Chaperone selection:  please apply.  The applications are on the Apoyemos website.  There is a tab that says “forms” and the applications are there.  There is also a FAQs on chaperones.
  • Your roles as a chaperone on this trip to Spain:  you will be involved in facilitating the orientations.  Your primary roles are going to be in transit and in country.  You will be responsible for money, discretionary expenses, transportation, kids.  You will be living with a host family also and having the same intercultural experience.  You will be there, day by day, supporting the kids.  If they are having problems, issues, they will go to you.  The GREDOS program has staff, but you will be the intermediary between GREDOS and the kids.
  • Consider whether you are comfortable dealing with a lot of grey area.  There will be a lot of opportunity for things to not go right all the time.  The more flexible you are, the more able you will be to handle the ebb and flow.
  • Are you comfortable problem-solving?  You would be benefitted to have some sort of intercultural background yourself.  It will be tough for the kids to negotiate the challenges of living in another family’s house in another country.  It will help if you have had some other cultural experiences yourself.
  • You are “always on.”  There isn’t a lot of down time; you will be with your family in the evenings, not the kids.  It is an intensive two and half weeks; wonderful and empowering but doesn’t qualify as a vacation.
  • You will be on excursions, the majority in a large group.  You will have a primary role in the herding of the kids.  The kids are at the age when they want some independence; you will need to be able to keep appropriate boundaries.  There is a balance between being the fun chaperone and having some authority so that the kids stay safe.  Marla’s experience was that the kids had some phenomenally good behavior – the kids rise to it.  There will be some issues, but overall she was impressed.
  • You will be responsible for keeping track of your finances.  You will need to present your receipts to Apoyemos when you return.
  • You will need to figure out how to handle passports and paperwork – so that they aren’t lost.
  • How chaperones are chosen:  email your application to Marla.  Marla is going to chose 5-6 interviewers, including Rebecca Gundle from ANDEA.  At this point, we’ll have 4 chaperones.  The deadline is November 1, 2013.  There will be interviews in mid to late November or early December.  They will be 15-20 minutes each, you will sign up.  What we are looking for is whether you have some experience which will enable you to provide support to the kids.  Do you speak spanish?  In Spain, there is more flexibility around not speaking spanish.  We’ll make the announcements before Christmas.  The interviewers are a representative from ANDEA, 4-5 people who have been chaperones in the past.

ANDEO – Rebecca Gundle (power point is or will be soon available on the blog)

  • Hope that there will be opportunities for exchanges with the GREDOS families.
  • Estimated costs of $3,875 (includes estimated airfare of $1550).
  • June 19 – July 7 confirmed trip dates (2.5 weeks).

Other questions (open forum)

  • For traveling, ADNEO recommends a money belt.
  • There is petty pick pocketing in Madrid – use common sense, don’t bring your pass port out with you, don’t bring a lot of money with you.  Don’t put stuff in your back pocket.  Carry your purse, back pack in front of you.
  • Classes are geared toward our group.  They won’t be in classes with spanish students.  West sylvan students will be interacting with other students after classes (which are only about three hours).
  • There will be a dress code, probably close to the West Sylvan dress code.  It will be hot in Madrid in the summer, so kids will be wearing shorts and T-shirts.
  • Some students will be close enough to the school to walk or take metro.  Some will be driven.  Other transportation will be a mix of bus, Metro.
  • You won’t know your families until the week before.
  • The families are chosen because they are connected to the school.  GREDOs has foreign programs for their students; GREDOs families apply through the school to be a host family.  The families have usually been associated with the school since pre-K.  There is a home visit.
  • In the detailed application which students fill out, there are questions about hobbies, description of the child.  There is an attempt to match families and children based on interests.
  • Itinerary will probably be set by April – and it will be available at the orientation for students in April.
  • The return trip – it is possible to arrange a separate return if parents want to meet their child in Madrid and travel home.  It is necessary to keep a certain number in the group to safeguard the trip prices (?)
  • Most people will check a bag on the airplane.  It’s hard to carry on everything you need.  Don’t check more than one bag.
  • We cannot guarantee non-smoking families.  If they describe themselves as  “non-smoking” – they may still have an occasional cigarette because it is still a big part of the culture in Spain.

If you have comments or questions, please “comment” to this or other posts.

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