Language and Cultural Immersion

Known by its combination of ancient and modern cultures, its outstanding cuisine and the birthplace of the Spanish language, Spain represents an ideal classroom without walls for a global education program. The Iberian Peninsula has be inhabited for thousands of years and is home to some of the most antique archaeological and cultural sites in western Europe. Our programs delve into the past and the present of the country through experiences that put students in direct contact with local people. We learn and share experiences with Spanish citizens while traveling through different regions, depending on the final itinerary. We use this program as a backdrop for learning about the religious, political, social and economical transitions through the exploration of the local treasures preserved in the area. At the same time, we challenge students to expand their comfort zone by learning and relying on their Spanish language skills for communication and daily life.

Potential Itinerary

Our journey begins in the late afternoon, arriving in the early morning of the next day to the Iberian Peninsula.

Arriving in Madrid, students participate of a workshop that gives them a clear understanding of the program itinerary and a first approach to Spain. Additionally, they engage in a Full Value Contract and Hopes and Fear session, building a shared set of rules to make the program a success. We close with a thorough health and safety review before heading out to the city. Our time out begins with a typical lunch of Tapas in the famous San Miguel Market after which we navigate the city visiting the Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, the Royal Theatre and the Almudena Cathedral.

Our day begins after breakfast with a visit to the reknowned Museo del Prado, widely considered to have the one of the world’s finest collections of European art. This visit provides an important opportunity to connect with students around the depiction of cultures through art, and what elements of culture may not be shown through institutionalized art. To what extent is art an archive of history?

Afterwards, we will set off to the Mercado de la Paz or Mercado Antón Marin where students will be given a communicative challenge. In small groups they are asked to go around the market talking to the local shop owners and learning about the origin of their products. Additionally they are encouraged to identify foodstuffs that are unfamiliar to them, and give them a try!

During the last day in the Capital of the country, we take a tour of the Royal Palace of Madrid, an incredible repository of the history of the country. Then, the group heads to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, where Real Madrid calls home and where we begin exploring the sport that has united the European continent for decades around a common passion.

We rise for breakfast on our final morning in Madrid and pack our things to take the train three hours South to Sevilla, for the second half of our program. Our train journey is an experience in and of itself: vastly different than the Amtrak system in the United States, we experience the efficiency of public transportation and train
travel in Europe, and enjoy the incredible vistas of the Spanish countryside along the way.

We arrive in Andalusia and check in to our accommodations. We drop our bags and head for lunch and to stretch our legs, walking along the Guadalquivir River and exploring the winding labyrinths and iconic ancient streets of Sevilla, including the Torre del Oro, Seville Cathedral, and the Real Alcazar to ground ourselves in the Moorish history of the region, and on to Real Maestranza to discuss the role of bullfighting in Spanish culture.

On our sixth day, we head to the countryside for a truly unique experience, the Spanish asado and a capea (amateur bullfight). Easier to “stomach” than the real thing, a capea provides students a valuable opportunity to understand the nuance of bullfighting, see the practice, and engage with the Matadors to ask questions. We enjoy an asado as well while in the countryside, and have some time for personal reflection and relaxation before heading back to Sevilla to enjoy the sunset from Las Setas.

We spend a day immersed into a site visit with a local nonprofit organization or school. We prepare through framing activities that help them generate great questions and activities that will guide their time spent with students and community stakeholders. Immersions are subject to host school/organization confirmation; however, sample immersions include organizations that are focused on social inclusion and related to topics of national significance in Spain. Rather than approaching these immersions through a lens of ‘helping’, students’ experience is one of equal exchange. We are there to learn, to make friends, to engage, and to connect through shared experience.

We head out on foot again from our accommodations to explore the popular Mercado de Triana and the surrounding neighborhood, a beautiful labyrinth of streets home to a former gypsy community. We do a communicative challenge in the Triana Market, and a negotations workshop beforehand helps us gain important bargaining skills. In the afternoon, we board a train for Malaga for our final portion of the program.

We spend our final full day in Spain exploring Malaga, keeping in mind comparisons from the other two metropolises visited thus far. We begin our day at the Museo Picasso Malaga, which houses over 200 works of Picasso, providing for rich discussion of his interpretation of the world as it relates to culture. We continue on to explore the covered market at Atarazanas, practicing our newfound communication confidence and enjoying lunch there. We spend our afternoon in the gardens at the Alcazaba, ancient Moorish castle, appreciating the views of the sea.

Envoys Testominals
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