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[whitespace] CUSD kicks off exchange program for teachers from Spain

Campbell--Campbell Union School District students will be exposed to a new culture this year. The district has hired seven teachers from Spain as part of the Exchange Visitor Program, which is co-sponsored by the state Department of Education and the Spanish Ministry of Education and Culture.

Jane Petty, CUSD deputy superintendent, said that only two of the teachers will teach Spanish language classes. The rest will be expected to teach in English. However, due to the rising number of students for whom English is a second language, the teachers' Spanish skills will come in handy for explaining difficult concepts or conferencing with parents who may not speak any English.

The teachers will work under J1 visas, which allow them to stay in the United States for three years, during which they must be employed by CUSD.

Following this, they will return to Spain where they will teach for another two years, sharing what they learned in America.

District Spokesperson Marla Olszewski said the exchange is a wonderful opportunity for both sides. "There's not as much demand for teachers there as there is here," she said. "And we need teachers who can speak other languages."

Another major benefit of the program is the cultural exchange that will occur. "Not only are they coming here to teach," Petty said, "but they are bringing another culture."

Students will be exposed to an insider's view of Spanish culture, while the visiting teachers will be immersed in American culture.

One part of Silicon Valley culture that the teachers have already discovered is the housing crunch. After they arrived in Campbell on Aug. 11, the teachers checked themselves into a Motel 6 and began the long, arduous search for housing.

"I tried to be as upfront with them about the cost of living as possible," said Petty, who has corresponded with the teachers by email since March.

Petty said that CUSD is helping the teachers with their housing as much as possible. The district has found four rooms that the owners agreed to hold for the teachers. Furthermore, Petty said that once the word of the teachers' precarious situation got out, the district received some donations of furniture and other useful household items.

Before their arrival in Campbell, the teachers spent a week getting an orientation to their jobs at the Spanish Consulate in Oakland. They will now begin the second phase of their training with CUSD.

"I'm sure their heads will be spinning by the end of the week," Petty said.

This is the first year that Campbell has participated in the program. Petty said that she went to Spain in March and interviewed the teacher candidates there. She said that the Spanish government paid for her trip.

Although the program does not involve Campbell teachers traveling to Spain, Petty said that this may be an option for the district to explore in the future. "Our teachers would love to look into [teaching in Spain], so it is something we're going to pursue," she said.
Steven Raphael

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