Students immersed in a new culture


Over February break a group of DHS students and faculty explored the interior and coast of Spain.

The moment they walked off the plane DHS students were immersed in the Spanish culture.

“We didn’t give them a lot of opportunity to get adjusted, immediately we were taking tours and everything is in spanish.” Kristen Embry, Decatur History teacher, said. “It was like we stepped off the bus and they were thrown in the new world.”

The Royal Palace in Madrid.

Embry, who visited Spain in college, had been looking forward to coming back to see the Alhambra for years.

“When we saw it for the first time I cried, I was so moved, I couldn’t speak.” Embry said.

While this was a dream of Embry’s, her favorite memory was when they were in Salamanca.

“Because we were there for so long, It just became our second home,” She said.“We got very familiar with the shopkeepers and where we drank coffee. It became like home.”

Jesus Martinez, Spanish teacher at Decatur, really enjoyed getting to know the younger students.

“There was this freshman group that really cracked me up,” Martinez said.  “They were fantastic, they entertained themselves they were always cheering each other up.”


The New Cathedral in Salamanca was just one of many attractions the student visited.

Martinez stresses the importance of being immersed in a new culture.

“My biggest expectation always is to expose the kids to something that they haven’t been exposed to,” he said. “Just by getting them in Salamanca they were hanging out with families, they were staying with host families so that interaction is what I am always looking forward to. “

The students traveled to five cities in Spain; Granada, Salamanca, Sevilla, Madrid and Segovia.

The Vally of the fallen also known as the “Valle de Los Caìdos” was a monument in honor of General Francisco Franco, who served during Spanish Civil War.

Throughout the trip junior Simon Ray took pictures for his CAS project to help build the media on the Walking Tree website, the organization they did the trip through.

I used the trip as a vehicle for my CAS Project, and ended up visiting a lot of monuments and famous buildings whenever I had access to them,” Ray said. “My favorite moment was in Salamanca, getting to go to the very top of the New Cathedral.”

This wasn’t  the first time Ray traveled out of the country. He has been to Italy and Canada with his family in the past, although he notices some distinct differences.

Getting to go on a school trip with my friends was a lot more fun than I’d imagined, but traveling with family is definitely a lot less nerve wracking than living with a host family who don’t speak any English whatsoever,” he said.

Ray was satisfied with the trip, however Martinez says he would do the order of cities visited in reverse, starting with the shorter bus rides and finishing with the longer bus rides.

Students exploring The New Cathedral Balconies in Salamanca known for its height.

“I think it was fantastic they were fantastic,” Martinez said. “They behaved well and they were always very positive.”

Martinez looks forward to the next Spain trip, which will be lead by Decatur Spanish teacher Sandra Martinez.

Photos courtesy of Simon Ray