Proctor en Segovia: Local Fiestas and National Pastimes

Posted by Ryan Graumann

The Proctor en Segovia winter 2015 group returned home after an excursion along the Mediterranean coast.  This week students got into the rhythm of life in Segovia, attending a local fiesta (Santa Águeda) that involved the burning of the likeness of a man and then returned to Madrid for an overnight trip that included watching a Real Madrid soccer match!
Proctor en Segovia visits the Prado museum in Madrid
Waiting outside Madrid's Museo Nacional del Prado with eager anticipation on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning. Here students viewed Greco, Velázquez, Goya, and other artists and works that caught their eye!
Proctor en Segovia watches a Real Madrid soccer match
The previous evening we attended a Real Madrid fútbol match. Ronaldo was serving a suspension, but Benzema, Bale, and Sergio Ramos did not disappoint. 
Proctor en Segovia watches a Real Madrid soccer match
First thing I saw walking into the stadium was the sheer number of people. Tens of thousands of people filling in every section, row and chair possible to see this one normal season game. Fans cheering, swearing, waving 4x8 flags, holding up scarfs with the Real Madrid name and logo, the whole shabang. “I knew fútbol was big here, but this is insanity. It's just a regular season game,” I thought to myself. It's one thing to say that Fútbol is big in Spain, it's another thing entirely to see first hand the gravity of those words. The noise produced by eighty thousand Real Madrid fans rivals is that of a jet takeoff, the entire stadium as one entity chanting victory songs, stomping and clapping. The experience is definitely one of a kind. I've never enjoyed watching Fútbol on the television but this, this was insanity. Next time I am in Europe I am definitely making it a priority to see another.

~ Preston Rathborne
Proctor en Segovia watches a Real Madrid soccer match
Students were surrounded by Madridistas in winter coats and purple and gold scarves, bocadillos, and, of course, Real Madrid songs and expletives directed at the referees.
Proctor en Segovia students take photographs in Madrid
Proctor en Segovia group members volunteer by reading to local students
Several Proctor en Segovia students volunteer weekly at the Centro Cultural de San José (a neighborhood of Segovia). Funded by the city, this after school literacy program aims to get kids excited to read. We sing songs and tell stories in English to start off each class, and then we sit back and soak up all all of the Spanish (storytelling, songs and activities)!
Proctor en Segovia students participate in Segovian festival Santa Águeda
Host mother Cristina (and former host mother Marga) invited students to participate in a local fiesta called Santa Águeda.
Proctor en Segovia students participate in Segovian festival Santa Águeda
Marga is excited to meet the sister of one her former host students!
Proctor en Segovia students participate in Segovian festival Santa Águeda
In Segovia, this festival day commemorates the women of the town of Zamarramala who, reportedly, played an important role in the taking of the Alcazar (castle) of Segovia from Moorish forces in the 13th century.  For two days a group of elected women run the town from the mayor’s office, there is singing, dancing, and the burning of the effigy of a man. Traditionally, their husbands do all of the domestic chores during these days.
I feared for my life as they set the man on fire. I was one of only three men dancing around the flames of the man while I was surrounded by countless women. In most cases I would love to be surrounded by beautiful foreign women. But in this circumstance that wasn't true. I was at the Burning of the Man celebration which celebrates women rights and power. Santa Águeda o Ágata was a martyr woman that resisted the advances of a Roman governor or magistrate sent by the emperor Decius to govern Sicily, and was then brutally tortured. They burn a life size figure of a man and dance around the fire singing songs and drinking sangria in her honor. The women loved the other male members of the group and me. They forced us to dance till we couldn't dance anymore. As soon as I thought the dancing was over, a nice older Spanish woman grabbed me and made me dance endlessly with her till the fire was mere embers soon to be washed away by the wind. It was an amazing experience few can say they have been a part of and I will never forget it.

~ Davis Vingers
Proctor en Segovia Thursday cooking class
On Thursdays delicious aromas waft through the school during comida. This week Grace and Frances made what is becoming one of their signature dishes, quiche with fresh vegetables from the outdoor market.
Proctor en Segovia student paints a mural
Charlotte is making progress on her mural!
Proctor en Segovia photography trip
Students visit the Castillo de Turégano for their photography afternoon activity this week.
Proctor en Segovia photography trip

 Proctor en Segovia volunteers for Spanish NGO
We volunteered making bocadillos used to raise money for Spanish NGO Manos Unidas.  They fund community-sourced development projects around the globe.
Proctor en Segovia visits Toledo
On Saturday we visited the beautiful city of Toledo in Castilla La Mancha!
¡Hasta la próxima!

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