Capstone 2016, Day 8: More Student Perspectives

Hey International School,

This is Brooks on a bus going to Chichen Itza. Yesterday, we went to the Hacienda Sotuta De Peon. We went to a cenote and learned about the history of the Hacienda and about the process of making rope. It was an incredible place and we really interesting.

- Brooks

More Student Notes:

This trip is awesome! I love it! My host family was super nice and made me feel like I actually was part of their family. They always made sure that I was comfortable and happy. So I was never left out and never felt homesick. I felt just at home. It made me really sad when I had to leave. I would do this trip again any time. - Karuna

After the week I spent I spent with my host family, I thought nothing would compare. But I was proven wrong. The amazing things I saw and the things I am learning about Mayan culture is even better. All of the things I am experiencing on Capstone have been a privilege. Now, I know how the Mayans lived, their stories, and their religion and gods. I am very lucky to be experiencing all of this, and doing it with my best friends makes it even better. - Coco

Saying goodbye to my host family was very sad. The week that I spent with them was a once in a lifetime experience and I was sad to leave it. The touring days that we have done so far have been fun, hot, and educational. In the bus rides we have learned about Mayan legends; such as the legend of the dwarf. - Tabitha

Staying with my host family was one of the most the things amazing its things ever. My host family was the best thing that could happen to me. Its the best thing ever plus you now have friends and another caring family. I was learning from them, and they learned from me. When it was time to go, everyone was sad. - Davis


Capstone 2016, Day 7: Student Perspectives on Capstone


So far on my Capstone trip, I haven't missed my parents and I have only had fun. Mi host brother is awesome, and when my host mom offered to call my mom and I could talk to her I said no. Also Sebas has taught me new vocabulary words such as, chorizo. Also I have made new friends such as Romi and Max. Finally I wish I would never have to leave.


Staying with my host family is really fun, learned new vocabulary and more about Mexican culture. Capstone is an amazing experience and I love being in Mexico, even though some times I miss my parents. I’m meeting new people, new places and having lots of fun.    


Capstone is a once in lifetime opportunity, and I am so lucky to be able to experience it. My host family is so, so nice, and they feel like real family to me, and my host sister is awesome.  I’m learning new vocabulary, meeting new people, going to new places, eating new food in Mexico. I wish I could stay here forever. Mexican culture is so interesting, and I love learning new things. 


I have had a lot of fun on my Capstone trip so far. It has been amazing learning about Mexican food and culture, and the amazing buildings and statues all around Merida. I have tried foods I had never heard of, done things that I have never done, and seen things I would have never seen. I absolutely adore my host family, and the cool things they do. It was a adjustment waking up that early, I have to admit, but it became easier as the week went on. I got to know a ton of fun kids at the school, too. It really has been a pleasure spending my time here, and I hope that the day to return to Oregon never comes!


Capstone has been extremely fun. It has been a really good experience. I occasionally miss my parents but i know i will see them soon and that my host parents love me. In my opinion the best part is the food. I love the food that my host mom cooks for breakfast lunch and dinner. She is a lot like my real mom and I love her. Even though i am sad the first week of capstone has already passed I am excited to continue on to the second week!!!!!!!


This week has been a exciting and enjoyable week staying with my host family and going to school with my host sister. Learning about Mexican culture and traditions is fascinating and visiting places around Merida is super fun. I have learned a lot from Capstone and i cant wait fro next week when we go on tours, even though i am very sad to leave my host family. Capstone is an exciting adventure that i would go on again!


Staying with new people and going to other places is very fun. Mi host family is very kind and have learned a lot from this adventure and made new friends. A host family is like a long sleep over and i wish i could never go.  Even though you have homework capstone is a very amazing experience. 


Its my last day with my host family, and I’m feeling really sad. I missed my parents this week, but I was having so much fun I almost didn’t think about it. I have learned a lot this week, about Mexican culture and what it is like to be in Mexico, and I have loved everything. Living with my host family was really nice and a big adventure. I feel like I have met a lifelong friend this week. 


It’s already Friday, a week has passed since the start of my adventure in Mexico. I am leaving my host family today; the time has passed so quickly. This past week has been a very exiting, intriguing and beautiful experience for me.  Before I was staying with my host family I was I bit scared, but when I got there I could relax.  The host family was very nice to me and we did many activities together like going to the beach.  Discovering the differences and similarities between my daily life, traditions and culture and theirs has been very interesting.  Being at Escuela Modelo has also been a lovely experience.  The materials, style of learning, etc. are very different from ours.  Wearing uniforms has been a big part of the experience too.  It is an amazing example of how I have adapted to the new environment around me. I look forward to the next week and wish I could repeat this marvelous experience! 


This was the best week of my life. The minute I met my host sister I was so happy because I have been waiting for this moment my whole life. My first day of school was the best because I met a whole bunch of people and i got to see the school and meet the teachers. Everyone was nice to us new kids and made sheer we had a good day. Clases are different than the ones we have and everyone is a little bit crazy. I think I would enjoy it a little more if everyone was a little calmer. Even though it was a crazy experience it was the best time of my life. I wish I could stay another week at the school and with my host family. 


This was an awesome experience. I couldn't wait to meet my host family. I was surprised that they had a lot of land. They even had two eagles! I liked watching Carlos’s brother do his experiment. He cut open an Iguana to see what was inside. The school was fun even though it got really loud inside. The trip to see how the salt was extracted was interesting. The only bad part of the trip was that I fell on my arm during a basketball game and now my arm is in a sling. Overall it was a very fan week and I wish I could stay longer.


The idea of staying with a host family was amazing. I was wishing for March 5 for a long time. But when the 5th came a started to get really nervous. The first day with my host family we went on the “Biciruta”. The next morning we left to go swim in 3 cenotes. The drive was super long but the swimming was great. Before going to school I was very nervous I forgot something, but the first day went well and so did the rest of the week. Wednesday 9th we went to ACTRIX PARK and had a great time. So far this week ha been really amazing. 


This was one of the best experiences ever has. It was so awesome. My host brother was so nice and so as his family. We played a lot together and had a good time. He took me to this park that was cool because it had a maze, go carts, zip line, jungle jim,etc. I loved the school and it is so big. The kids in his class are so nice. I also made some friends, the friends I made were: Max, Diego, Sebas Mora,etc. I loved this trip. I would want to do it again any time. The host brother was awesome and we had lots of fun.


Capstone 2016, Day 2: Meeting with Host Families

As part of the Capstone Study abroad, students spend approximately one week attending a school in the visited country, living with host families or in dormitories with local students. Their TIS teacher attends school with them, and parent chaperones remain close by but not visible. Here are some photos of our students meeting their host families for the first time!

Photos by TIS Parent Ron Miller

March 19, 2015: More student reflections on Capstone

Evan: This Capstone trip has been a great experience, staying with host families, having the new knowledge of how Mexicans live their daily life. In our second week we have traveled to a variety of different unique places such as Dzibichaltun and Uxmal. But, the one that stood out the most for me was Chichen Itza. Chichen Itza is a enourmous mayan town that once had 50,000 inhabitints. This city stood out to me firstly becuase if you wanted to see everything that was uncovered you woul have to go there for two weeks. Also, only 12% of all the buildings and structers are uncovered, so Chichen Itza is huge. Secondly, the architectural is amazing becuase the mayans were great astronumers and they aligned their buildings to have the sun shine through the piramids. This particular structer in Chichen Itza is one of the ancient seven wonders of the world, so it was quite amazing to see. Chichen Itza is big, but it is not the tallest of the piramids the mayans made. Chichen Itza was known becuase of the knowledge the mayans use to make their calender. It was a amzing trip, one that will never be forgotten.  

Charlotte: Celestún is famous for  it’s big, fat PINK flamencos. They were cool. Some of them were gray, others were whitish, some were a light salmon color, some were a vivid bright pink. I’ll admit to you, I thought they quacked like ducks, until . . . I saw that there were ducks swimming around. I actually don’t know what sound they make. Maybe a bark, a quack, a whine, a song . . .?

The water was this kind of puke  brown. It was yellow, mixed with green and brown. That was because of the sulfur. The sulfur STANK, with a capital S!!!

Along the sides of the water, there were mangroves. Aren’t those the trees that produce mangos? Anywho, they provided shelter and shade for crabs, fish, turtles, and other water life. It was shelter because the crocodiles couldn’t get through the roots of the trees, half in the water, half out.

Speaking of the fauna of Celestún, there were a bunch of animals, although we only saw a few. There are blue crabs (which I heard were actually blue and RED!!!) fish, (delcious fish, DELICIOUS FISH. Oh, great! Now I sound like a gator or shark or something), stuff like that. Celestún is also a fabulous place for bird watchers.

Honestly, I can’t name all the birds that we saw, but, sadly, we only saw a select few. Herons, blue and white, kingfishers, colorful, brown pelicans, as opposed to those in the U.S.A., and hawks, atleast I think that they were hawks, circling above overhead.

There were also animals like tapirs, ocelots and jaguars, but we didn’t see them.

The crocodiles  were capital A AWESOME!!! We saw two babies, that looked like swimming twigs, a toddler, that looked to be about half a meter, and a big mama that was like three meters.

The water  in which we swam was clear, horrible tasting, and crocodile free. It was a lot of fun to jump into.        

March 18, 2015: Student reflections on Capstone

Ellyse: One of my favorite memories of Capstone was when all of the TIS kids went to Escuela Modelo with their host sister/brother. For me it was really fun having this expierence and getting to know all of the students of the school. I also thought that it was fun to try out the tradicions of  a different school. One of my favorite things about Escuela Modelo was the uniform. It was kind of nice to not have to think or worry about what you’re going to wear the next day, all of your clothes would be ready. I also really enjoyed the classes that they had. I had fun doing mayan math, multiplications, roman numerals, science and so on. In conclusion, Escuela Modelo was an amazing expirience and I hope I can return soon.

Sam: My favorite part about capstone so far was spending  time with friends and family and making new friends and enlarging my family. On this Capstone trip I was able to expand my list of my friends and family, it made the best part of my Capsstonne trip but also the saddest as well. It was sad because as son as they were added to my list a week later I had to let go of them. Then I realized that I could stay in contact with them and may be one day they could visit Oregon and we csn do the same thing that they did with us. later in life I can one day visit them again.

Natalie: My two favorite parts of capstone were, giving out cuestionaires on the second day by the university across the street from our hotel and  meeting some new people. My other favorite part was giving my interview to someone I didn’t even know, I was a little  bit nervous, but it turned out  great. I think I have worked on exhibition this trip a lot and not just used this time for a vacation.

March 16, 2015: The Students Return from Homestays

My job often has me traveling overseas. Recent travels have seen me in England, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, China, Denmark and Sweden to name a few. Part of the fun is meeting new people, experiencing different cultures, and overcoming the challenges that inevitably crop up around a foreigner in a foreign land.
Without fail on each and every trip, I find myself wishing I could have a deeper connection with locals that is denied me because of my natural “outsider” status. During this trip I’m amazed (and incredibly jealous) that the TIS kids enjoy – and have earned – the coveted insider status due to their language abilities and adaptability.
That status is what I dared dream of for my daughter when we made the decision 8 years ago to have her attend TIS. That goal was so tantalizingly close when Keeli departed with her host family the first Saturday. It’s why I was proud to have an ear-to-ear grin as I read her blog post – “The first night it was really hard and I thought 'How am I going to stay here for a whole week?’ But then we had a lot of fun on Sunday, and I don’t miss my parents anymore.”
It was that personal growth and confidence that was evident in all the kids when we received them back on Friday after their homestays. There were different looks in their eyes, different assuredness in their actions, different tenors in their voices. They were forever changed by their language- and cultural-immersion experiences.
We heard of their good manners, bright dispositions and terrific Spanish skills from the host families. We saw families sad to let them go after such a short time. We saw hugs and cheerful high fives with host sisters and brothers. We saw the impact they made and the lives they touched. We saw insiders.
- Peter Guilfoyle, TIS Parent

Keeli leaves with her host family


Keeli and  her host family

Keeli and  her host family

March 14, 2015: More Student Homestay Updates

James: The first day I was nervous but after my host brother Héctor showed me around I got used to everything very quickly. I loved to learn Mayan mathematics and the homework Is fun and easy. I love to help everybody to learn English. I think that besides the dress code that I’m not used to everything is great. The lunch, the kids, the teacher, the subjects and everything else.

Olivia: When I met my host family I was very nervous because I was going to stay with a family that I did not know. Now it’s like I’ve known them for a long time. Escuela Modelo has some fun classes, my favorite is English class because it’s so easy for me because my first language is English. Over all the school is pretty nice and lots of super nice kids.

Gemma: When I went to school on Monday, I was very nervous, because it was very different. But after the ceremony that formally welcomed us to Escuela Modelo, it became exciting.  When I went to my classroom, everyone was very welcoming to me. I  am really enjoying  school and I will be friends with my host sister for a long time.

Elora: On the first day I was happy and a little bit nervous but I was OK. At school it seemed like Libia, my host sister told all of her friends that I was coming because they were all really excited to meet me. My most favorite part of the day is lunch THE FOOD IS SO GOOD! The only thing that I don’t like is the uniform but other than that this school is great. The school is fun and the teachers help us learn in math class and in language arts.

Elijah: When I got to the school I was expecting a lot of yelling and angry teachers but there sweet and caring also the students were exited to see me and generously gave great food.

Bodhi: When we drove to the school I was expecting very strict and rough teachers who yelled every time you did something wrong but my teacher has been very sweet and my classmates have been kind and helpful. I like how the teachers here make it so if you can’t do the work or homework because of your personal life they fix it and make it so you can. It was hard in the computation class using Microsoft (Windows) computers because at our school we don’t use Microsoft (Windows) computers we use Apple (Mac) computers.

Rohan: Ok.  I was definitely expecting something else in this school.  I was surprised.  The teachers weren’t  as strict as I thought.  I still missed my mom on the weekend, but now at school I have plenty of friends in my class.  Everyday I have gone to the cafeteria with Gus to buy junk food, and then we share it.  I had trouble with computer class, because I’m not used to a Microsoft computer, I’m used to a Apple computer.

Henry: I was surprised what happened this year considering that the last year they said all the teachers were strict, but this year I have a really nice teacher, David. And the unifors are not bad. I learned lots of mayan math. Olso being able to buy stuff is new but people just buy junk food.The thing that was hard for me was using a Microsoft computer because im used to Apple.

Gus: When I got to the school I was very surprised to se a lot of people were very excited to see me. On last day of school 5th and 6th graders went on a field trip to Campeche .After the two hour and a half drive to Campeche  we boarded a pirate ship  we listened to the great stories of pirates navigating these waters .The ship was life like and very beautiful. And to the end we were very unhappy to see our host families go.

March 10, 2015: Student Homestay Updates

Three of our 5th graders sent updates about their homestays. Sounds like initial feelings of anxiety and homesickness have given way to happiness and enthusiasm!

Frances: The first  day was hard because I missed my parents, but I got used to it. On Sunday it was a bit easier. Now that I’m at school and with my friends it’s much easier.

Keeli: The first night it was really hard and I thought “How am I going to stay here for a whole week?” but then we had a lot of fun on Sunday and I don’t miss my parents anymore.

The first night it was a little hard to adjust  but  after that it got easier and easier. During my time here I have learned allot, met new people and had a lot of fun with my host family they are vary nice.  

March 7, 2015: Capstone from a Parent's Perspective

Two years ago I left Merida, Mexico with my 5th grade daughter amazed at the experience. Now I have the opportunity to observe and participate as a parent with my son.  I wondered how the experience might be different or if it would be as wonderful. As I am sitting near the pool with other parents talking about meeting the host families and sending our children off on their homestay I am confident that this experience will be just as wonderful.
In the first two days of travel, heading to the beach and acclimating to the weather and time difference; it has been fun to see our students just enjoy being together and celebrate that they are "actually in Mexico"..."on capstone".  The glee and anticipation has been contagious.  As we waited with our children to meet their host families, they each expressed a measure of anxiety in different ways. it is natural to be uncertain about the unknown.  Underneath their anxiety was a quiet confidence that has been instilled in them during their tenure at TIS.  As I shared lunch with my son and his host family I saw a transformation in front of my eyes.  The student who refused to speak Spanish except when mandated began to converse eloquently in Spanish, translated for his mother when she stumbled and abandoned his English  to the extent that he addressed English speaking parents in Spanish.  The anxious facial expression melted into an excited grin.  A clear connection was established with his host family based on a mutual desire to explore another culture and get to know someone else. with the common ground of language they were able to rapidly build a rapport to the extent that when it was time to leave, he brimmed with excitement about the things he was going to share and do with his host family.  There was no hesitancy in embracing a new family, a new culture and an array of new experiences.  As I looked around at other families doing the same exchange others were having very similar experience.
As a parent, I felt proud and excited and a little overwhelmed by the graciousness of the receiving school and families.  I can't wait to hear about the week and to see how our children have grown in such a short period of time.  I am grateful for this opportunity and so glad that we chose TIS as our educational path.  Our children have become confident global citizens open to learn and willing to share.
Deidre Burton Crandell
Sam Crandell's mom