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Fast Friends: Global Language Exchange Program Fosters Deep Connection Between Students

In today’s rapidly changing and increasingly interconnected world, Friends is dedicated to interdisciplinary programming founded in open dialogue, deep connection, and knowledge-sharing. To teach these important global competencies, Kara Kutner, Director of the Center for Peace, Equity and Justice, is spearheading a new approach to global education on 16th Street. 

This past fall, the School welcomed five exchange students from Colegio Sant Ignasi in Barcelona, Spain. These intrepid students were hosted by students Ayla ’26, Bode ’26, Clara ’26, Jeff ’26, Jane ’25, and Safira ’26 and their families. Visiting students enjoyed Upper School classes and immersed themselves in the Friends community and traditions like the God’s Love We Deliver bag decorating event, Meeting for Worship, and the Thanksgiving assembly. Students also visited Leading, the new James Turrell skyspace, providing a spiritual setting conducive to silence and contemplation.

They also took in many of the City’s cultural attractions with a trip to the United Nations, a Circle Line cruise, a visit to the Statue of Liberty, holiday ice skating at Brooklyn Bridge Park, and an evening of theater watching Kimberly Akimbo on Broadway. Exchange students also spent the Thanksgiving holiday with their American counterparts.

Kara and her counterpart in Spain worked diligently to find the most compatible pairings that would support each other fully. One of those pairings was placing Carlota with Jane ’25 and her family. For Carlota and Jane, this new Spanish Language Exchange program provided an exceptional opportunity for friendship and formal and informal learning opportunities both in and outside of the classroom. Not new to exchange programs—she studied in Ireland as well—Carlota noted the distinct difference in the programs and the care in connecting her with a host family. Carolota saw a “big sister” in Jane. 

“My dream has always been to study in New York,” Carlota explains. She was keen to attend an American school and fully enjoyed her full Friends’ schedule of English, Chemistry, Algebra, History and Visual Arts classes.

Next month Jane will travel with five other Friends to reside with their host families, attend school daily at Colegio Sant Ignasi, explore the amazing city of Barcelona and work to hone their proficiency in Spanish. 

Jane explains “Attending school there will be a new and different experience unlike anything I’ve done before, and a good way to improve my Spanish.” Jane is an avid language enthusiast. In addition to her French classes at Friends, she continues her life-long study of Spanish outside of the School, visiting Chile last summer as an effort to build her intercultural competencies and language proficiency. 

Reflecting on the success of the program so far, Kara shares, “It has been really impressive to see how both the Sant Ignasi and Friends Seminary students are not only experiencing language immersion and cultural exchange, but really learning to lean into the challenges of this kind of experience—especially at the start—with open minds and generous hearts.”
Friends Seminary actively promotes diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism in all its programs and operations, including admissions, financial aid, hiring, and all facets of the educational experience. To form a community which strives to reflect the world’s diversity, we do not discriminate on the basis of race or color, religion, nationality, ethnicity, economic background, physical ability, sex, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. Friends Seminary is an equal opportunity employer.

222 East 16th Street
New York, NY 10003
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Friends Seminary — the oldest continuously operated, coeducational school in NYC — serves college-bound day students in Kindergarten-Grade 12.