I have just arrived in Spain, and I am about to spend three months immersed in the culture, living with a homestay family, and attending three hours of Spanish class per day. It hasn't really hit me yet.
On Sunday, nine students and two faculty will depart for a month-long Chinese immersion program, based in the city of Shangri-La. This is the second immersion trip China that Proctor has arranged, with the first occurring in 2016 (you can read student blogs and reflections from that first trip here). Students live with host families, attend classes, and go on excursions in order to absorb Mandarin and the rich cultures in China. We caught up with trip leader, Jon Beard, about the program’s history and what students can expect in the coming weeks.
The group of seven students and three leaders of the Guatemala summer service trip returned on Monday, after spending 14 days learning, working, and exploring in the southwestern part of the recently volcano-rocked country, staying with host families and completing service projects at two different sites.
This is going to sound very cliche, but when I arrived in Spain I had no idea how deeply in love I would fall. I enjoyed visiting every city that we went to, but there was something special about Granada. Maybe it was the history, maybe the gelato, maybe it was that I felt more confident speaking Spanish.
We departed for Barcelona on Saturday morning, unaware that the Catalan language of Catalonia would surround us. The train ride from Madrid to Barcelona went faster than I had anticipated, but that’s what happens when one’s eyes are constantly stimulated by the beautiful countryside that’s just a glance out the window. After peering out the window and mentally preparing for our Catalan adventure, we arrived at the train station in Barcelona. Luckily, the weather was amazing in Barcelona; it was sunny and warm, just what we needed for a quick 20 minute walk to our hotel.
Our first day in Segovia was tumultuous. We landed early on Tuesday morning in Madrid excited to see Ryan and Mikaela. As most of us did not sleep on the red eye from Boston Logan, it was slightly difficult to be as enthusiastic as they were. To increase our fatigue we were thrown straight into a barrage of Spanish from our host families. Communicating in a mix of English and broken Spanish we tried to convey that we desperately needed a siesta (nap). After this, most of us only woke up for dinner and slept through the night to the following morning. Better rested, but still somewhat disoriented, we all converged at the aqueduct for our first full day in Segovia. Looking up at the ancient Roman water slide the group became excited for our time abroad.
The adventure began as the group embarked on the final excursion to Málaga. We all met up at Segovia’s bus station and from there we made our way to Madrid. When we arrived in Málaga we were greeted by the warm air and ocean breeze. The city was full of light as we were guided through the stone streets to our hotel. On one side there were hundreds of tall beige buildings filled with city life and on the other side was the crystal clear Mediterranean.
Every day, Proctor students are called to indulge in their curiosities, challenge themselves, and try something new. This same ‘trying something new’ mantra has guided the World Languages Department over the past few years as instructors have been experimenting with different pedagogical approaches to classroom structure. As Ross, Ale, Erik, Jon and Scott discover creative ways to teach timeless lessons, we are reminded that a culture of learning is hinged on educational exploration for all community members, where individuals evolve with each passing season.