Monday, February 7, 2011

Student Reflection

by Kendra Dickinson

As some of you may remember, I am a senior in Spanish and the Environmental Fellows Program, and I recently started working at University of Illinois Office of Extension and Outreach, in the division of Hispanic Programming. I am working with two wonderfully intelligent and creative individuals, Julia Bello-Bravo and Francisco J. Seufferheld. They work tirelessly to provide programs and information to the Spanish-speaking and Latino members of the community, as well as engaging all members of the campus in programs that focus on Spanish-speaking countries.

For the past week and a half I have been helping them to prepare for two upcoming trips that aim at increasing the cultural knowledge of our campus community. The first trip, which will be led by Julia Bello-Bravo, is the Spain Wine Field Study Trip. This is a trip open to both faculty and students, taking place in April, which will tour Spain’s historic wine region. Participants will visit many locations in Spain, including Madrid, Peñafiel, Aldeanueva del Ebro, Logroño, El Ciego, La Rioja, Montseny and Barcelona, while immersing themselves in the wine culture of Spain though activities such as touring historic and modern wineries and vineyards, visiting the Wine Regulation Council of Spain, attending wine tastings, and visiting Enology (Wine-Making) Department of the University of La Rioja. While the work that I did to assist in the planning of this trip consisted of making a poster to announce the upcoming Information Session about the Trip, as well as making phone calls, I have really enjoyed being a part of making this trip happen. This is an incredible opportunity for students to travel to Spain with a Spanish native, Julia, and to learn about one of Spain’s important traditions.

I have also been working with Francisco Seufferheld in planning a Spring Break trip to Perú. This trip will visit many important cultural, historical and archaeological sites of Perú, including Lima, Cuzco, Machu Pichu and more. Students and faculty participating in the trip will have the chance to taking part in activities such as hiking, folkloric dancing, and sightseeing. Just from talking with Francisco about the sites that trip participants will get to visit and the immense amount of cultural value that they hold, I am certain that this trip is going be incredible.

Before I began to help plan and prepare for these two trips, I did not really consider the place that these types of trips had in “Hispanic Programming.” I suppose that prior to this experience, I assumed that “Hispanic Programming” was aimed solely at serving Spanish-speaking and Latino communities here at home. However, while the Office of Hispanic Program does work tirelessly to share resources with communities here, these two trips embody another very important aspect of “Hispanic Programming,” which is cultural exchange. By providing students and faculty of the university the opportunity to visit places that are important in the Spanish-speaking world, the Office of Hispanic Outreach is giving students and faculty the opportunity to learn more about the Spanish-speaking countries and cultures, deepening their cultural awareness and understanding.

Working on and learning more about these trips has made me very excited to perhaps participate in one or both of them!

If you would like to participate in either of the trips, please attend an information session:

Spain Wine Field Study Information Session:
Thursday, February 10th          4:30 pm
Spitze Conference Room        ACES Library

Perú Trip Information Session:
Thursday, February 10th          5:30 pm
Spitze Conference Room        ACES Library

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