Somerville High School Students Visit Portugal and Spain

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During April vacation, 27 students and four teachers from Somerville High School embarked on a journey of a lifetime to Portugal and Spain. Students on the trip got the opportunity to put all the lessons in Portuguese and
Spanish to practice.
The group stayed at the major cities of Lisbon, Seville and Madrid and took excursions to Cascais, Cabo Roca, Evora, Cordoba and Toledo.
The first two days of the trip were spent in Portugal, and were full of sightseeing in downtown Lisbon, the capital city. The next day students explored the beach city of Cascais and and saw the most westerly point of continental Europe in Cabo de Roca.

(SHS students and teacher look out across the Atlantic. Somerville is thousands of miles in the distance.)

On the way to Spain, the Somerville group stopped by Évora, a medieval city famous for its Roman ruins and the Chapel of Bones. The Chapel, part of the Royal Church of St. Francis, was constructed by Franciscan monks in the late 16th century as the final resting place for relocated bones from as many as 43 cemeteries that dotted Evora and the surrounding area at the time. It was a way to free up much-needed land and preserve “the souls of the people buried there.”
In Seville, Spain, the group visited the tomb of Christopher Colombus in the Seville Cathedral, and later took lessons in Flamenco dance. That evening the group attended a professional Flamenco performance, which included one of Spain’s best Flamenco dancers.
Next, the group stopped by Cordoba, a city famous for the Mezquita Cathedral. The Mezquita was originally a mosque built in the 800s by the Moors that was later converted into a cathedral.
In Madrid, the group visited the famous Royal Palace, which is bigger than the Palace at Versailles. Later, the group went to the Prado Museum, which holds the works of many famous painters such as Goya, Velázquez and Murillo.

(Photo to left: SHS students and teachers in front of the Prado Museum.)

In addition to enjoying and learning about numerous historical sites, the group also had an opportunity to visit Colegio El Valle, a high school in Madrid. After a tour around the school facilities, Somerville High School and El Valle students interviewed one another. El Valle students interviewed SHS students in English and SHS students interviewed them in Spanish, giving both groups the opportunity to practice their world language skills. It was a memorable experience for both students and teachers from SHS and El Valle.

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