Last Day: Friday, January 31

Once again, a bittersweet day…the Belgrano students’ last in Chicago. Students went to school Friday morning for a farewell breakfast in the green house, ending the trip as it started. After enjoying cereal, muffins, and more, the breakfast ended and Belgrano students shadowed Payton students to some of their classes. Finally the time came for the final goodbye. Tears were shed, lots of hugs were given, and everyone parted excited for the American trip to Argentina in May!

Day Nine: Thursday, January 30

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The full group of students at the farewell dinner hosted by the Wagners.

Students arrived at school on Thursday feeling bittersweet about their last full day in Chicago. After Payton students headed to class, Belgrano students traveled to the Lyric Opera of Chicago for a behind the scenes tour organized by Meredith L’s mom. Students got to see where all the costumes are made, the room of props, where the orchestra plays, and lots of other cool components that go into a successful opera. For the next tour of the day, students headed to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for an economics lesson in American trade coordinated by Meredith L and Marlee’s parents. Students then headed out to their last stop of the day, an exploration of the Museum of Science Industry. This was definitely a highlight for most kids because the interactive museum was a fun experience for the Belgrano students. Finally, the students all met at the end of the day at Wade’s house for a farewell dinner. Parents, students, and teachers all enjoyed a potluck style meal filled with saying warm goodbyes and reminiscing about the events of the past week  or so. It was a great evening that students were reluctant to leave at the end of the night to head home and pack bags.

Day Eight: Wednesday, January 29

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Wade’s mom leading a tour for students at the Art Institute.

Payton students finally went back to school Wednesday for a long day of class while the Belgrano students spent the day on iconic Chicago tours without weather getting in the way. The first stop was a tour of Chicago’s Art Institute, led by Wade’s mom. Students got to see in person some of the world’s most famous art pieces, which was a fascinating cultural experience. A highlight for the Belgrano students was the wing of Modern Art where they spent a majority of their time. Next on the list was a visit to the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, where the fearless students jumped up and down and took pictures on the Skydeck for an amazing view of the entire city. Next the students went to Millennium Park for more touring and photos, and finally met the Payton students back at school at the end of the day. Students then split off for the afternoon. Some went shopping again for final family gifts, other students tried frozen yogurt for their first times, and plenty others enjoyed other typical after school activities. Students spent the night with families enjoying dinner and more evening fun, and ended the night geared up for the last full day on Thursday.

Day Seven: Tuesday, January 28

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Payton and Belgrano students at the theater for Phantom of the Opera.

Once again, snow day! Students had another free day without a group plan because of weather difficulties, and spent it doing a variety of activities. A majority of the group ended up back at Water Tower for shopping and lunch, while others spent the day in their own neighborhoods showing their Argentinian friends the less touristy parts of town. Some kids went to Target for a one-stop-shop place to get gifts for family, and others went to the Apple Store to buy the new phones. The end of the day was filled with family dinners and activities. A couple girls decided to see Phantom of the Opera for an American experience at the theater, and were really pleased with the performance. It was a fun and relaxing day that was a great way to show the Argentinians a typical American snow day.

Day Six: Monday, January 27

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The group watching the game.

Students woke up to excellent news Monday morning…snow day! CPS cancelled all school activities Monday because of frigid temperatures that reached far below 0 degrees, meaning a free day for Payton students and their Argentinian friends. Once again, this type of day meant for no specific group plan, giving students the freedom to spend the day as they pleased. Most students showed their Argentinian friends the beauty of American movie theaters on freezing days, and went to the movies for a variety of shows including Frozen and Catching Fire. One group went bowling while others kept up the movie marathon to avoid heading outside, until evening rolled around for the day’s highlight: the Bull’s game.

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The dark stadium and bright big screen really contrasted the emptiness of the tour a couple days before.

A major highlight was watching the United Center fill up after touring the empty stadium on Thursday. Seeing the behind-the-scenes work of Thursday’s tour really come to life was fun and fascinating for everyone involved. Another major highlight was watching a welcome message for both the Argentinian and Payton students appear on the big screen during half time. After lots of cheering and meals of greasy french fries and other Bull’s game goodies, the group went home, ready for another snow day Tuesday.

Day Five: Sunday, January 26

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Students having fun with the Bean’s mirrored surface.

Sunday was the first full day spent with families, meaning a day without a specific formal group plan. Students split up into small groups to spend the day doing their own activities, depending on what sights the Argentinians wanted to see. One group spent time visiting Millennium Park and the famous Bean followed by shopping all afternoon, while others enjoyed the day playing sports indoors with friends. Eventually the group all gathered together for a wild match of Laser Tag at Laser Quest in Norridge, Illinois. Everyone had fun brainstorming creative code names for success in the game, and the competition was beyond intense. Students were super tired after running around the arena, and headed back to Danny’s house for pizza and a group viewing of the Grammy Awards. The Argentinians were great at recognizing all the American music, and kids had fun comparing their favorite songs and artists. Ping Pong, Air Hockey, and Foosball were all very popular for commercial breaks, bringing back the competition of the afternoon. Dessert was had, and everyone went home to gear up for Monday!

Day Four: Saturday, January 25

Though the Saturday activities ended up slightly different than what was originally planned, the day was no less exciting. The group was originally supposed to travel to New Buffalo, MI for a day of winter fun at Wade’s home in Michigan, but severe weather conditions eliminated that plan as a possibility. Instead, students hung out Wade’s Chicago home for lunch and games to beat the cold. Once it warmed up a little towards the afternoon, some group members decided to actually go sledding to try to replicate the Michigan experience. The Argentinians had fun speeding down the big hill near the soccer fields at Montrose bundled in plenty of snow gear to keep warm. Sledding eventually became too chilly to bear, at which point the group split. Some students went home while others shopped, until the majority of the group went to Dave & Buster’s for arcade games and some serious prizes. Finally, the Dave & Buster’s crew enjoyed dinner at Ed Debevic’s for more American fun and food while others ate at home or restaurants of their choice. Everyone then headed home after a fun and snowy day!