Guest authors: Lisette Geib and Sarah Hulls, RBHS
As the sun sinks below the horizon, darkness finally settles in around 10:00 p.m. But this town is far from going to sleep. Soon a collective “awe” can be heard as the historic Plaza Mayor is illuminated with a breath-taking panoramic display of lights. At this time people of all ages gather in the center of town to listen to live music, dance, spend time with family and friends, eat a snack, watch a soccer match, or just sit and enjoy the unique atmosphere. This unforgettable scene is the nightly norm in Salamanca, Spain.
Ten high school students had the opportunity to experience this enchanting culture while they lived in Salamanca for 3 weeks this summer. The students not only toured parts of Spain and Portugal, but also attended Spanish language classes each morning. Some even lived with a Spanish host family. These students received a full-immersion experience, accompanying their language learning with living the Spanish culture, from ordering tapas or churros con chocolate to dancing salsa.
All of the students embraced stepping out of their comfort zones to not only grow their vocabulary and grammatical accuracy, but to also enrich their knowledge and appreciation of a different culture. During their stay in Spain, each student chose one aspect of culture to compare and contrast between the United States and Spain. Through research, interviews, and observations, the students developed a final product that represented their findings and demonstrated how they had personally changed as a result of the trip. Their creativity shined through with products like “How to” Guides and ceramic versus paper coffee mugs. But even more impressive than their creativity or how well they dissected cultural similarities and differences, was their undeniable respect for a lifestyle distinct from their own. As senior Evan Dawkins commented, “The differences in the day-to-day life in these nations do not hinder them, but make the countries great.”
Center picture taken by the Roman bridge with the cathedrals of Salamanca, Spain in the background
Surrounding pictures: Students with their final products
World Language Teacher Support Specialist (and Language Enthusiast)