Faculty Interview: 5 Week Spanish + Community Service Program
Carlos is a Spanish teacher at a University in the US who came to Valencia on a customized program as part of his students’ college curriculum. He and his group were here for a 5 week long study abroad program combining Spanish classes, History classes, and community service.
Here’s what he had to say about his time in Valencia with Euroace!
1. Why did you choose Valencia as a destination for your Custom Program?
Valencia offers the perfect balance between a manageable environment and an urban setting, thus allowing students to find ways to freely explore the place. Also, the city offers a great variety of historical vestiges through which students can become familiar with the periods of Spanish history. And to pay closer attention to what other cities offer (Madrid, Toledo, and Barcelona), Valencia is conveniently located to arrange weekend excursions. Finally, Euroace has been the perfect partner to serve as our guide in the city.
2. What did your Custom Program entail?
Our program entailed a language course, a culture course, host families for students, excursions and activities in Valencia and other cities, and a Community-Based Learning project where students worked at a local NGO.
3. Describe a typical day for your students during their study abroad program.
In the morning they took the subte to go to the NGO and start working at 10:00 a.m. There, they would help with different tasks -like preparing lunches for the homeless, help with arts and crafts, support the staff at a Youth Center, etc. At 1 p.m. they would return to their host families for lunch and rest, although sometimes they also used this time to explore their neighborhood after lunch. At 4:00 p.m, they would be at Euroace for their language class and then, at 6:00 p.m. they would meet the teacher of the culture course, with whom they would often times go to a local museums or sites of interest to talk about different historical periods of the city. At 8 p.m. they returned home to have dinner with their host families.
4.What extra activities or trips did your students partake in during their program?
They enjoyed a tapas dinner and flamenco show, and had the opportunity to learn how to make paella. During the weekends there were several excursions to Madrid, Toledo, Barcelona, Xátiva, Morella, and Sant Mateu.
5. What activities did the students take part in where they could interact with local people or other international students?
Students joined a conversation exchange hosted by Euroace on Thursday nights at a local pub.
6. What were the advantages of taking your students on a study abroad program with Euroace?
Euroace does a great job vetting for host families and set students up for a great family experience. Their teachers also offer a great alternative to what students are used to in the American teaching system. Euroace was very open to tailor the elements of the program in agreement to the needs of our institution and the culture of our students, but without compromising the demand that students be open to local culture and to freely explore the city. They provided a structure that held students responsible for the goal of the trip.
7. What were the students favorite parts of the program?
Students particularly praised the relaxed atmosphere of the language course, as well as the hands-on take of the teacher of the history class, where he took them to sites of interest. Students were also very happy with the activities that complemented the program and gave them the opportunity to bond as a group, while at the same time exposed them to cultural diversity in Spain.
8. Is there any advice you’d give to other staff leaders before embarking on a Custom Program to Valencia?
– Make sure to set up weekly meetings with the group of students… probably everyone does this, but these meetings are fundamental for processing the experience.
– Include specific rubrics or documentation in regards to interactions within the group… as group issues can impact the way the experience is shaped.
– Refrain from being too specific in terms of preparing students for every single thing: a big component of this trip is to allow students to be independent with the general guidelines, make decisions and then realizing which of those decisions were adequate and which were not. So, for example, give room for a certain level of discomfort.
– Prepare lists of recommendations of things to do during the free time, but stress that in the end it is up to the students to make their own decisions about their free time.
For more insight into faculty and student experiences with Euroace, click here!