Harrisburg Academy was pleased to welcome exchange students from Guatemala for a seven-week cultural exchange program through Faces & Our Cultures.  The students arrived mid-October to join our community, our classes, and our homes through early December.  Maria resided with the Connelly family.

I don’t have any specific word for this trip and for the moments that this incredible family has given to me.  I felt like the weeks just flew, and I’m sad because I don’t want to leave.  I have done a lot of things that were new for me and other things that were different, but it was really nice to experience different cultures and different families.

For Thanksgiving, we went to my host Dad’s mom’s house out of town, and we spent a lot of time with the family.  I learned a lot of new things, and I spent most of the time with little kids and watching movies.  I learned some new cookie recipes and homemade candy.  The last time I saw snow was two years ago, and on this trip, I had the opportunity to play with snow and slide down the hill with little snow boards —  and it was really fun.  We played some table games, and I watched how everyone played Minecraft, which is a game that all the family likes.  On Black Friday, we went shopping, and we woke up at 3 a.m. to go and find good deals.  I was super excited about Black Friday shopping because I really enjoy buying clothing and other things.  We went to some stores first, and then to the mall; I had the opportunity to buy some things that I liked, and I bought some things for my sister back home.  On Saturday, we planned to do a cool glass project, but plans got canceled and we stayed home watching movies and spending time with the family.  We drove back home Saturday night.

My host mom, Miranda, and host sister, Kate, and I went to Philadelphia to spend some time.  First, we went ice skating, and it was fun.  I really enjoy ice skating because we don’t have ice rinks in my country because of the climate.  After ice skating, we went to Macy’s to watch a Christmas village that they had, but we were late and it was closed, so we walked around a market that was in a plaza and we bought some cute stuff.  There was a store full of Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas decorations that was really interesting.  I learned about the pickle tradition which consists of hiding a pickle ornament in the Christmas tree and the one who finds it first gets more gifts or opens his or her presents first.  After that, we went to eat dinner at a really nice restaurant with Miranda’s brother.  It was really nice meeting him; he is really funny and I had a great time.  We finished eating, and we went back home.  On Monday, I spent some time with my friends, and we went to the mall and looked for some things and then we went to have a bubble tea, and it was really good.

As you can tell, I had a lot of fun in this break; after all of these days, I was super excited for coming back to school and being with my friends.

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