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Mabel Cumming '19 Explores Basque Country and Culture

Chatham Hall
This summer, Mabel Cumming ’19 had the chance to travel through France and Spain thanks to the Student Diplomacy Corps.
Mabel studied the history and culture of the Basque Country during her trip, exploring the ancient cities of the region. We sat down with Mabel to learn more.

So, what exactly were you doing this summer? Give us an overview of where you traveled, and what you were studying.
This summer I traveled to the Basque Country in Spain and France. We studied Basque history and learned about their culture, beginning with a stay in Madrid for a greater understanding of Spanish culture, history, and language. After a few days, we traveled all over the Basque region in northeastern Spain. We had the opportunity to explore cities, learn about the Basque economy, hike through the countryside, cook traditional meals, and celebrate their traditions and holidays.

What was your favorite part of the experience?
My favorite part of the experience was hiking part of the Camino De Santiago across the Spanish-French border. It was really fun to hike with the other students in my group. We had the chance to learn so much about each other during the trek. It was easily the most beautiful place I had ever been, and I found that hike to be an extremely spiritual experience.

What is one take away from the summer that you will never forget?
This biggest takeaway from this trip was the relationship I made with my host family. I had an amazing connection with my host sister and we became great friends. We still talk all the time. We taught each other our native languages and discovered all of our common interests. It was amazing getting to know someone who had a completely different background than mine.

How do you plan on using what you learned on the trip in the future?
During this trip, I gained a whole new appreciation for traveling. I also got to practice my Spanish skills a lot and I feel like I can speak the language so much better now. This trip taught me a lot about myself as well. It was my first time traveling without my family and I think I gained a lot of independence and confidence.
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An all girls boarding and day school in Southern Virginia, Chatham Hall prepares girls for college and for productive lives. Our innovative academic program offers Advanced Placement courses, global study and travel, as well as project based learning. Our athletic teams regularly compete at the State level and our exceptional riding program is nationally recognized. We foster the intellect and character of each student and, through our Honor Code, live in a community of trust. Grounded in its Episcopal heritage, the school welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds.  
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