Creating the Global Scholar

Oak Hill strives to prepare students to become global citizens. The language department collaborates with both the Oak Hill and larger Eugene community to provide engaging learning opportunities for students, and broaden their understanding of others.

Spanish Exchange Program in Guanajuato, México

The spring Spanish Program is designed to provide serious Oak Hill Spanish students with an opportunity to study the language and experience Mexican culture.  The program includes classroom instruction,  the opportunity to live with and learn from a Mexican family, and visits to sites of cultural,  geographical,  and historical interest in the state of Guanajuato. 


The city of Guanajuato, located in the state of Guanajuato,  is in the heart of Mexico (it is a 5 hour bus ride from Mexico City). Life in this community of 150,000 inhabitants revolves around the family and old Mexican traditions.  The character of the area is enhanced by the annual Festival Cervantino,  an internationally renowned  week-long festival of song, dance and theater, which brings in visitors and performers from around the world. Guanajuato has a rich history dating back to pre-colonial times. Its architecture reflects the period of Spanish colonization, with its narrow cobbled streets and the numerous Catholic churches and monasteries. There is a silver mine close to the town which has provided economic support to the community, and there is the University of Guanajuato, where many foreign as well as Mexican students attend.  The people of Guanajuato, like most Mexicans one might meet,  are immensely proud of their town and will gladly tell its legends to any interested listener.


Students attend classes every morning Monday through Friday in a Mexican school.

Students will be taught by Mexican teachers and the  classes vary each year.  Some of the basic classes include: folk dance, ballet, arts and crafts, music (guitar, piano), and sports activities (soccer, karate, P.E.).

The Spring Spanish Program includes several field trips. 

Students visit Archeological sites of the State of Guanajuato, historical museums in the city, and visits to villages and cities in the state of Guanajuato which produce pottery and hand crafts.

During their stay in Guanajuato, students live with a Mexican family,

speaking Spanish and experiencing the hospitality of Mexican culture firsthand. Many of the families have been housing students since 1985, and have been central to other program’s success.  Most students keep in touch with their Mexican families through the years, and many return to visit.

Oak Hill School is pleased to announce the completion of our first exchange trip to France in Spring of 2017. A group of 6 students and several chaperones had a Spring Break adventure (at the same time when other students were adventuring in Mexico) which included several days of sightseeing in Paris and a week-long stay with a host family in Nice.  After a week in Nice, the final destination was Venice, Italy for a picturesque finish.  We hope to continue this exchange in coming years as well as offering other trips to Quebec and to Martinique.

The Costa Rica trip happens every 2 years. Buck Arbuckle, retired Spanish teacher and garden steward, takes a group of middle school students to participate and support a variety of ecologically oriented projects, including protecting endangered turtles, and visiting the Bribri Indians (Costa Rica indigenous, whose way of life is threatened as children leave the village). The students also experience a 5 day homestay.

Oak Hill School went on its first China Trip in March of 2018, going to Beijing for a school exchange experience before traveling Southeast to Shanghai, Moganshan and Hangzhou. Students ran along the Great Wall, practiced their calligraphy and bartering skills, went to the top of the Pearl Tower, and hiked through a bamboo forest.
Oak Hill is also excited to announce its second China Trip in March of 2021! We will be again going to Beijing for a school exchange, but after will be heading West to Zhengzhou, Xi’an, and Chengdu. Students will learn some kungfu from Shaolin monks, see and learn about the Terricotta Warriors, and taste some world-famous Sichuan cuisine after they meet some pandas! For more information, contact the Upper School Mandarin teacher, Maggie Gilbride (


Oak Hill School proudly presents their annual Día de los Muertos celebration. This celebration involves three evenings of live music, poetry, arts and crafts with musicians and artists from Mexico.  This event is provided in conjunction with the following organizations: The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, MEChA, Adelante Sí, Casa de Cultura, Instituto de Cultura de Guanajuato, and Dirección de Atención a Comunidades Guanajuatenses en el Extranjero.

Every year the entire school comes together to celebrate the Chinese New Year. This event is organized by the Oak Hill Chinese teachers in conjunction with the Community Support Association to highlight aspects of Chinese culture and celebrate this important holiday. Lower School students learn about the origin story of the Chinese New Year, important cultural symbols and traditions, and get the chance to try some traditional Chinese snacks.

Upper School students come to the gym after their core classes to play several advisory games connected to the New Year, each one introduced by one of our Chinese exchange students. The gym lights up with laughter and noise as students try to figure out the order of the zodiac animals, how to form Chinese characters with their bodies, and which group can yell 新年快乐 (xīnnián kuài lè: Happy New Year) the loudest. The advisory games end with a hóngbāo (red envelope) hunt to find envelopes stuffed with chocolate, toys, and Chinese money.

The Equinox Conference is a special yearly tradition that concludes the Mexican student exchange visit and gives Oak Hill students the opportunity to learn from University of Oregon international students about their home culture. Each year, a tree is planted on the Oak Hill campus, and poems in Spanish, Chinese, and French about the environment are read to open the conferences. University of Oregon international students from the International Cultural Service Program conduct seminars spanning the day, and the day ends with the Neon Dance.

When the opportunity to study abroad comes, Oak Hill encourages its students to heed the call. Several Oak Hill high school students have gone abroad and pursued internships, traveling education, and school immersion while remaining Oak Hill students. Oak Hill works with these students to stay on track for graduation while experiencing the larger world.