Hasta luego Sevilla!
From me….to we!
Students have learned along this journey that befriending locals requires one to step out of their “comfort zone” and into a “stretching zone”. For many students, walking up to a local and asking for directions in another language (or better yet asking a Spanish peer if they´d like to have a coffee) usually puts students into the “panic zone”. Therefore, several activities were organized throughout the semester to facilitate communication and interactions with their Spanish peers via informal and fun activities. Two WONDERFUL Spanish student guides, Marina and Juanan, served as liaisons and facilitators…students enjoyed activities such as pick-up basketball games, Sevillana dance classes, wine tasting, team kayaking, local soccer game and a cooking class.
Visit to El Vacie
The Intercultural Communication and Leadership students and I recently returned from a visit to the María Angeles Daycare, which serves and works primarily with the Gypsy families living in the El Vacie shanty town. Staff engaged students in conversation surrounding the challenges of working with this population, as well as how they are combatting stereotypes and working to facilitate better communication between families, educational institutions, social services, etc.
Through CIEE employees´ Day of Service Program, I had the privilege of volunteering my time during a workday and assist the caregivers with the daily care tasks of the infants and children (bathing, feeding, dressing, diaper changes, toileting, etc.). My hat goes off to all of the wonderful teachers and volunteers that put their heart and soul into providing the children with a nurturing and safe learning environment.
How can I apply what I´ve learned?
As International Education professionals, we know that “study abroad” is not code for “a glorified vacation”, although this assumption continues to exist amongst some employers. Students have gained and improved on a number of transferrable skills and competencies…skills that CAN be applied to students´ future careers.
Several students participated in the Reentry/Marketing your Experience Abroad Workshop last week. During the workshop, students reflected upon their semester experience, how they have grown and changed, their accomplishments and achievements as well as expectations for the return home.
However, one of the main goals of the workshop was to help students think about how they can talk with future employers about their growth in a way that is attractive, professional and marketable. Students brain-stormed the skills and competencies acquired as a result of studying abroad, and practiced talking about them via mock interviews.
CIEE´s Intercultural Communication and Leadership Course
As course instructor, I witnessed first-hand students´ intercultural growth via their writings, class contributions, discussions, and digital storytelling projects.
I invite you to take a look at Amanda Rhine´s (George Washington University) Digital Story, as she highlights her intercultural journey as result of the course and semester in Seville.
Have an enjoyable and restful summer!