Students, staff participate in unique, educational activities over summer: Katherine Ja

After several months at home, many Gunn students and staff took the opportunity to travel over summer. English teacher Katherine Ja visited Barcelona, Spain, with the study abroad program Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE).

Despite waning public concern about the pandemic, there were still a few COVID-19 safety guidelines in place when Ja traveled. “I think the main restriction is they require a COVID test to come back to America,” she said. “It has to be done 72 hours before the flight. The other thing is, before leaving from the U.S. to Spain, you have to go online and enter some information, and they’ll give you a QR code. That’s it.”

Once she arrived in Spain, Ja visited Casa Mila, a building designed by the famous Barcelona architect Antoni Gaudí. “I think my favorite part was just the amount of foresight Gaudí had,” she said. “He preplanned every single thing. Every design has to do with nature; there’s a mountain in the background of one terrace, and the terrace mimics the shape of the mountain. Everything is super detailed.”

While Ja enjoyed the sights around the city, the highlight of her trip was the Spanish classes she sat in on with CIEE. “I observed a little bit of the class, and the teacher was just so energetic,” she said. “It was the students’ first day in person, and it almost seemed like they’d been in class for a whole month because they were just really getting along with each other. I think it’s because of the teacher’s energy, which was very inspiring to me.”