We’re thrilled to announce a new Mexico City exchange program

Mar 28 2024

We’re thrilled to announce a new Mexico City exchange program

“Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures.”
—Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

At Keystone, we continually seek out ways to provide students with opportunities that will both support and challenge their academic and personal selves. Whether they are deeply researching and presenting on a topic they are passionate about, performing a piece of music or theater on stage, or competing in athletics, we encourage children and young adults to stretch themselves and grow in ways they never imagined.

As an example, our Outdoor Education program pushes students beyond their comfort zones and asks them to try new things. They may be pitching a tent in Yellowstone National Park, swimming with manatees in Florida, or hiking up the side of a mountain in Olympic or Yosemite National Park. In the process, students learn as the old song goes, “the difficult I’ll do right now, the impossible will take a little time.”

It is with this in mind that Keystone will inaugurate a new student-exchange partnership with the American Foundation School (AFS) in Mexico City next year.

The exchange program will be available for 7th and 8th grade students at Keystone and 8th graders at AFS. As a group and with chaperones, middle schoolers from AFS will visit Keystone for a week next February/March and then 7th/8th grade Cobras as a group with chaperones will travel to AFS during next year’s Spring Break. In both cases, students will live with families for a week while chaperones from the visiting school stay nearby. One of the benefits of Zoom will be the opportunity to meet administrators from the host schools and host families before heading to Mexico City or San Antonio.

On some afternoons and during the weekend, students in both cities will be able to sightsee and tour places like The Missions and The Alamo in San Antonio or the ancient Mesoamerican city of Teotihuacan and/or Casa Azul (Frida Kahlo’s house) in Mexico City. The aim for administrators in both schools is to provide students with a cultural experience by staying with host families, attending school, and seeing amazing and unforgettable locations in these two historically rich cities.

This program is completely voluntary and will have fees associated with it.
Over the past few weeks, Head of Lower/Middle School Ms. Matthews and I met with members of the AFS administration via Zoom to explore this possibility. In addition, the Head of their Middle School (who’s from Alamo Heights and has friends who attended Keystone) visited our main campus; in turn, Ms. Matthews and I visited AFS to scope out the school.

Immediately, we were struck by the similarities between the two schools. Although AFS has a significantly larger enrollment with 2,500 students in grades Pre-K through 12th grade, the students looked very similar to our Cobras, and even the furniture in their quad was the same as ours. Sixty percent of the students at AFS hold a Mexican passport (with some also having dual citizenship with other countries) while 20% hold an American passport and perhaps another, and 20% come from 59 other countries. Many of their students hail from South Korea.

The mission for AFS states, “The American School Foundation, A.C. is an inclusive and diverse community, offering an international, academically rigorous, university-preparatory curriculum based upon the best of American independent education. In all aspects of life, we strive to be at our best: we love learning, live purposefully, and are empathetic, responsible, contributing citizens in an increasingly interconnected world.”

Classes at AFS are taught in English, while many students speak Spanish during their social times. Except for seniors, students must ride one of the school’s 80 buses to school. Visitors enter the beautiful and well appointed campus through a metal detector and the school has a security force of 18 trained and armed officers. The school day goes from 7:45 AM-2:30 PM when most students head home for la comida, the main meal of the day. Perhaps most exciting for a coffee aficionado like Ms. Matthews was the Starbucks shop on campus!

During our tour, we were struck by the friendly and warm nature of the students and adults on campus. Ms. Matthews and I were welcomed with open arms, and people could not have been more gracious and hospitable. Candidly, we felt right at home, and we easily envisioned our students having a wonderful experience at AFS. In the small world category, our own Grade 4 teacher Ms. Holden visited AFS twice as a high school student for Model UN conferences.

Last month, Ms. Matthews and I presented this concept to the Keystone Parent-Teacher Organization, and their response was overwhelmingly positive. We will hold information sessions later this spring and next year. We are thrilled to share with you more information on this exciting new program over the coming weeks and months.

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