Despite the economic difficulties in Spain, a large number of students are still travelling to Ireland every Summer to learn English and make friendships that could last a lifetime. This year, in Longford alone, over 50 students have arrived, making it one of the largest groups ever to visit the county.
Angela Garcia is programme co-ordinator for the Spanish students in Longford. She believes that now more than ever Spanish parents are determined that their children will learn English.
“Spanish families know that English is so important. They sacrifice in order to send their children to Longford. They know that English will help them get a job in the future. Not many people in Spain speak good English,” said Angela.
Referring to the advantages of Longford as an Irish destination, the Madrid resident continued: “For over 30 years Spanish students have been coming to Longford. It’s a quiet town and it’s in the middle of Ireland so we can go on the bus to Dublin or Galway.
“Also, there aren’t many other Spanish students here unlike other parts of Ireland. This is good as it helps the children learn more English. The families here are also very nice and very friendly. We have kept with the same families for many years.”
Angela is assisted on her trip by group leaders Augustin Del Rio (Madrid) and Teresa Rodriguez-Caso (Seville).
Recently, the Longford Leader took a visit to the group’s study hub at St. Michael’s Boys National School (NS) and spent some time with the visiting students.
Carmen Mayoral (15),
“I came here because I wanted to learn English and to know another culture. I also wanted to try other foods and feel independent from my father and my mother. In Spain our situation is bad because of the political situation. We haven’t got work or money. It isn’t nice. We are like Ireland now.”
Sara Delrio (14), Madrid
“This is my fourth year coming to Longford. I love Ireland and I like the friends I have made here. I’ve made Irish friends and Spanish friends. The weather is bad but in Madrid it is very hot. I don’t know which I prefer – the rain or the heat.”
Ignacio Picatoste (15), Galicia
“It rains a lot in Galicia too. It’s very green there – like here. This is my third year coming to Longford and I like it a lot. It’s a small town so it’s very easy to meet people and it’s really handy as everything is close by. In Spain we have high unemployment but we have a new government so we hope that things are going to change.”
Paloma Perez-Modrego (15), Madrid
“This is my second time here. I like it a lot. It’s good fun. I prefer the weather in Madrid but here we play football and we go shopping in Dublin. I enjoy that a lot.”
Pablo Del Pofo (11),
“This is my first time in Longford. I am enjoying myself and I enjoy the family here. They tell jokes all the time. My family lives in Longford town. I like learning English. I am here for two weeks this time, but next year I will be here for one month.”
Santi Martinez-Vares (11), Seville
“My host family is very good and friendly. They are in Longford town. I like learning English - it’s very enjoyable. My mother is a journalist with a local radio station at home. I love to play football, basketball and all the sports in The Mall.”