Dillingham high schoolers head overseas, most for the first time

Mar 13, 2017

Next week, 13 Dillingham high schoolers embark on a trip to France and Spain. For most, it will be their first trip outside the United States.

Café Olé tries its hand at making Spanish tortillas.
Credit Dillingham City School District

Dillingham’s Café Olé, the high school’s Spanish and French club, is leaving next week for a trip to France and Spain. For 12 of the 13 students, this will be their first time beyond United States borders. For one student, it will be her first time outside Alaska.

High school senior, Dorothy Bavilla, has travelled previously within Bristol Bay and to Anchorage. She says that this trip to Europe is a big step.

“I’m excited to see what the other part of the world looks like besides movies,” says Bavilla. “I don’t think I’m prepared right now, but I think I will be as soon as I’m on the flight toward Seattle.”

The Eiffel tower and the Notre Dame Cathedral are top among those movie landmarks she would like to see in person. In Spain, she’s looking forward to trying churros, which Café Olé tried to make for a bake sale fundraiser.

“It didn’t turn out so well,” Bavilla says. “It was really burnt and like a piece of charcoal.”

This trip has been in the works for over a year. Mariah Smith and Andria Budbill are the Dillingham High School teacher chaperones. Smith teaches French and Budbill teaches Spanish at the high school. Budbill says that the trip will be a two-week whirlwind.  

“We’re flying into Paris. We’re doing a daytrip to Versailles. We’re going to Avignon, Provence, Nimes. Those are all the places in France. And then we’re going to a place called Carcassonne. It’s a French name, but it’s actually right across the border in Spain. They have a Salvador Dalí museum there. We’re just spending a day there, and then going on to Barcelona, then to Madrid, and then back home.”

While Smith and Budbill organized the trip through the school, it does not draw on school money. As a group, Café Ole raised about $9000 for the trip, which was divided among the students who each needed to raise close to $5000.

Smith says that, as an educational opportunity, the trip is invaluable.

“You learn a language when you actually have to use it, and you learn how to pronounce correctly when actually start speaking to French speakers,” she explains. “For them as students and also just as people of this world, they will get the opportunity to see something so much bigger than themselves and than Dillingham.”

Smith believes the trip will provide students perspective not only on the countries they are studying, but also on their own home and culture. She hopes they will see how their experiences at home are similar and how they differ than those in the countries they visit.

The students along with five adult chaperones will leave from Anchorage on the March 21st and return to Dillingham April 1st. 

Contact the author at avery@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.