POULSBO — Twelve visiting Mexican students will leave North Kitsap this weekend, but evidence of their visit will remain at Breidablik Elementary for years.
The Mexican students, part of an exchange program with Spectrum Community School, helped the Breidablik students kick-start a project that has been waiting a long while to begin: an organic garden in a patch of land behind the school.
Combining the two groups of students was a natural fit: the Mexican students are all part of Mayc’mex, an ecological group located in their high school in Calpulalpan, Tlaxcala (two hours east of Mexico City).
The students spent much of Wednesday helping Breidablik students and faculty remove sod from the land behind the school, preparing it for the plants, which will be planted later.
Breidablik teacher Gail Davis said, “We want to let kids know how to take care of the Earth. It’s definitely an environmental project.”
The garden will be organic, include only native plants, and will have a worm bin. The idea has been long-discussed, said Davis, but the visit by the students from Mexico seemed like a natural spark: “I thought, we have all these environmental students here, so why not put them to work?” Davis asked.
The students have spent much time with their counterparts from Spectrum Community School. Spectrum students have visited Mexico four times over the last four years; Mexican students have flown to the Northwest twice.
Phil Davis, the Spectrum Spanish teacher (and husband of Gail Davis) has helped host the students, who he said are as committed to ecological concerns as Spectrum students are to human rights.
“This (visit) shares the travel experience in another way,” he said. “Instead of the eight students I bring down, 100 kids get the benefit.”
The students received a week-long taste of Northwest life, although they got a brief afternoon of sun April 8 when they arrived.
“Hey,” one student said to Davis, who had told them of the rainy climate of Washington State, “you tricked us.”
But he hadn’t. Rain fell during some of the group’s activities, including a trip to Olympic Hot Springs, a camping expedition on Hurricane Ridge, and a visit with Spectrum’s Spanish class.
The Mexico students and teachers also were scheduled to visit the junior-high Options program, and share some of their country’s dances with students at Poulsbo Junior High.
When teacher Pablo Gallardo was asked what he enjoyed about the trip, Phil Davis translated.
“It’s a difficult word to translate directly,” said Davis, “but it means, ‘Sharing life together.’”