BSM Welcomes Amities

Kate Baldwin

The time of year has come again when Benilde-St. Margaret’s opens its doors and welcomes two Amity scholars from different parts of the world.

For the second semester of the 2008-2009 school year, BSM is happy to introduce the two scholars to the community. “Maxime, the French Amity will be staying with us for the third quarter. Rafael, the Spanish Amity will be staying with us for the entire second semester,” said Ms. Mary Windsor who is in charge of the program this year.

After placing an ad in the Parent Newsletter and on the BSM Web site, Ms. Windsor received a dozen emails from families within the BSM community that were interested in hosting an Amity scholar. “From there I was able to narrow down the list to find the Amities their host family,” said Ms. Windsor.

The school bases its decision on who to host through an application process. “First the scholar submits applications to the program. Those applications are then sent to prospective schools for review,” said Ms. Windsor, “the schools are then given a time period to review the applications and decide whether or not to submit an invitation to any of the applicants.”

After reviewing applications of scholars for BSM, Ms. Windsor looked at those whose native language is either Spanish or French. “We also look to provide cultural variety and experience in our applicants; therefore we try to choose applicants from throughout the Spanish-speaking world,” said Ms. Windsor. Once the school has chosen its scholar, they send an invitation which the scholar either accepts or declines.

Benilde-St. Margaret’s has been hosting Amity scholars for the past 16 years and has been enjoying the benefits of the program. “The program benefits the entire BSM community, providing us with a unique, cultural, one-on-one experience with someone from another country,” said Ms. Windsor.

Both scholars will be a part of both French and Spanish classes, presenting to the classes about certain aspects of their culture such as food, art, music, clothing, and geography. “The students learn about other cultures from this first-person contact,” said Ms. Windsor.

Stereotypes are shed from the students’ view about foreign cultures when they make personal connections with the scholars. “The Amities, in turn, experience American culture and lifestyle firsthand,” said Ms. Windsor, “and have the opportunity to share their culture with a school while increasing their English language skills.”