Culture Swap

Photo contributed by Robin Hunsucker
Photo contributed by Robin Hunsucker

This year, approximately 45 Mason High School families are letting strangers sleep in their homes, eat their food, and teach them about their culture.

Live ‘n Learn is a program where Spanish students have the opportunity to get a taste of American culture by staying in the Cincinnati area with host families during the summer. Robin Hunsucker began preparing the company in the fall of 2012 and Spanish students first came to the United States in the summer of 2013.

“When the Spaniards come here, they come for one month and they live with host families who have students with the same age and gender as them, and they have similar personalities, interests, or hobbies,” Hunsucker said. “During that month, they do classes three days a week and one day, the Americans come to class and the Americans practice Spanish, and the Spaniards practice English.”

For the rest of the time, the Spaniards and host families participate in fun group activities, such as going to Kings Island, playing laser tag, and doing other typical things in the area.

Freshman Avery Brown hosted the same Spanish student for two consecutive years. Brown said they bonded over their shared interest in soccer and still keep in touch over the phone.

“We got along really well and he’s like a Spanish brother to me,” Brown said. “Our ages were a little off because he was 18 and I was 14, but I have a brother who was 17 at the time, so it was good. Even though there was a big age difference, he would hang out with me and my friends.”

For the first time this year, 14 MHS students are traveling to Spain with chaperones, including Spanish teacher Debbie Perry. They will visit six cities in seven days and then the next week they will stay with host families, similar to the program in America.

Freshman Bailey Nix is traveling to Spain this summer to stay with the Spanish student she hosted the previous year.

“I’ve talked to the family and they said that there’s a bunch of fun activities we’re going to do, like we are going to go all over Spain to different tourist spots,” Nix said. “I’m going to be there during the Running of the Bulls, so I am going to be able to see that and that will be really fun.”

This year, Live ‘n Learn was launched as a 501c3 non-profit and even though it is a fun experience, students can get volunteer hours from hosting because they are volunteering their time to help Spaniards learn about our culture and improve their English.

According to Hunsucker, she decided she wanted to start Live ‘n Learn after studying abroad and also teaching English in Spain for four years.

“I started because I love Spanish and for me, it was really eye-opening to travel abroad,” Hunsucker said. “I’m hoping to inspire students in the United States to continue studying Spanish and to see it as more than a subject. It’s something that can be useful in their life, that can help them travel, to see the world and to meet people.”


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