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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Global Cultural Experience: Spain

Global Cultural Experience: Spain
Ávila and Granada, Spain.

These are just two cities where College of Education Students have an opportunity to study abroad and explore the world.

Dozens of San Diego State University students participated in the faculty-led trips to Granada and Ávila, Spain this summer.

Avila, Spain

Designated as a World Heritage site, Ávila is one of the most historic and beautiful cities in Spain. Its world famous walls stand guard over the centuries-old artistic and cultural heritage found inside.

For four weeks, students live in residence halls with Spanish students and take two courses (equivalent to 3 units each) of their choice. The main classroom building is in the Universidad Catolica de Avila which sits just outside Ávila and has a splendid view of its medieval walls.

Dr. Sarah Maheronnaghsh, global cultural coordinator and bilingual multiple subject coordinator for the College of Education, led the trip to Ávila. She said she enjoyed watching the 39 students in her group transform during their month in the Spanish city. During the trip, which was established by Ernesto Sanz in 2000, students got to practice their Spanish language skills and embrace the local culture.

“Study abroad trips are important for students as they have the ability to develop empathy for other languages, cultures and ways of life different than their own,” said Maheronnaghsh, adding that this was Sanz’s last time going on the trip because he is retiring. “This is essential in an ever changing plethora of languages and cultures that make up our communities and classrooms throughout San Diego.”

Monserrat Torres, an undergraduate COE student, participated in the Ávila trip to satisfy her study-abroad requirement and took a literature and a mysticism class while there.

“It was incredible! I was able to meet an amazing group of people and professors. We stayed at a seminary, everyone there was really nice and I was glad we all had our own room,” said Torres. “I'm really glad I chose this program because I got to do a lot of things in just a month. I definitely encourage everyone to study abroad because they will be amazed at how much they can get to experience in such a short amount of time.”

Granada, Spain

Located in the Andalucía region of southern Spain, Granada is known for its unique historic, artistic and cultural heritage, and is only an hour's drive from the beaches of the Mediterranean.

During the 4-week trip to Granada, led by Dr. Chris Rasmussen, a faculty in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and Dr. Andre Branch, a faculty in the COE’s School of Teacher Education, students attended classes with their SDSU professor and were able to interact with teachers and students at Colegio Virgen de Gracia, a semi-private bilingual Catholic school serving local K-12 students.

21 students participated and took Math 313 (Selected Topics in Elementary Mathematics). These students also took a one credit course, ED 450, which provided students with the opportunity to interact with teachers and students in a local school by making observations, participating in lessons, and taking away experiences to enhance their futures as elementary and middle school teachers.

“By observing classes at this school and interacting with students and teachers, our students saw a different educational system, with different norms and practices. Such an experience can help future teachers incorporate new ideas into their future teaching,” said Rasmussen. “I know from personal experience how enriching and transformative an extended international experience can be and so I wanted to be able to help others have similar enriching experiences.”

Del Valle reads to children in Granada
Alexis Del Valle, a liberal studies major with the College of Education, participated in the Granada trip and said she loved it.

“The experience was truly amazing. I learned so much about myself as a person, as well as about the Spanish culture. I met amazing people in my major and I truly believe Spain will always have a special place in my heart,” said Del Valle, who took two classes while in Spain. “Every day, I did something that was out of my comfort zone and it truly tested my boundaries as a young-adult female and a college student. I am so very grateful for this opportunity and I wouldn't change it for the world.”

SDSU is among the top study-abroad colleges in the nation. In any given academic year, students can study in more than 60 different countries around the world. Some of the most popular destinations include Spain, Mexico, Italy, the United Kingdom and Germany.