Sept. 6, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt, Karla Eidson
|In addition to teaching classes at the American School of Valencia, student-teachers had a number of opportunities to see the Spanish countryside. Among their trips was one to the silk exchange in Valencia. —Submitted photo|
Twenty-three Sam Houston State University students embarked on what was, for many, the trip of a lifetime when they traveled to Valencia, Spain, this summer for the pilot year of the department of curriculum and instruction’s study abroad program, according to Karla Eidson, program coordinator and lead faculty member.
Students completed field experience for their six hours of course credit by teaching classes at the American School of Valencia, which provided the future classroom teachers with an insider’s view of teaching practices from teachers coming from Scotland, England, and Russia, as well as American teachers living abroad and local Spanish teachers.
“By living in another country, you are provided the opportunity to network with an entirely new group of people, and there is no telling what kind of possibilities it will open up,” said Liz Waliki, an SHSU junior. “For me, it opened the door to potentially completing my Sam Houston degree and student teaching in Spain, which would be an absolute dream come true.”
Students prepared for their semester abroad by attending pre-departure meetings and attending classes on campus prior to departure.
These class days were filled with course content and creating materials to take to the international Spanish school so that the time in Valencia could be used to explore and discover the country, according to Eidson.
Students stayed in a university dorm about one mile from the Mediterranean ocean, which allowed them to spend time at the beach, on a catamaran sailing the coastline, snorkeling and swimming.
“Being so close to the beach was just an added bonus for me,” said freshman Krista Cukrowski. “I was in awe with the beauty and history surrounding me everywhere I went. Even ordinary buildings, are architecturally interesting, in Europe, so a walk to a café or to the pharmacy or just to get a bottle of water becomes an excursion and ends up being an adventure.”
The pre-service teachers also were allowed to soak up the European culture and take in sites throughout Valencia and surrounding countryside, including Morella, an ancient walled city located on a hill-top in the province of Castellón. There, students were able to explore a castle and view prehistoric remains that are in the area, including cave paintings in Morella and Bronze Age graves.
“Hiking amidst Roman aquaducts up a poppy filled pathway to eat a picnic lunch inside the fortress walls of a castle that dates to the days of the Punic Wars was just another day in the life of students on this study abroad semester,” Eidson said.
One field trip to Barcelona allowed students to visit the expiatory church of La Sagrada Família, which was begun in 1882 by Gaudí and was not abandoned until his death in 1926. Since then different architects have continued the work after his original idea.
The last five days of the trip were spent in Paris, France, where students used their all access museum passes and the metro to travel around, taking group trips to the Eiffel Tower, Versailles and a cruise along the Seine.
“Everyone was required to keep a travel blog during the semester, and reading their entries, I have no doubt that these students gained insight, a world-view perspective and learned more about the world around them as well as themselves,” Eidson said. “Our students are special, and they deserve programs that let them get all they possibly can from their college years. I feel honored to get to be a part of just such a program.”
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