CIEE MADRID LIBERAL ARTS PROGRAM - NEWSLETTER #2
EXPLORING A NEW CULTURE AND A NEW CONTINENT
Riding a camel is one of the activities students have on their to-do list when they plan to travel to Morocco. The idea of visiting the African continent for the first time is very attractive to most of them although they are unfamiliar with the realities of the country. Visiting Morocco with the students is, thus, a great opportunity to explore the relationships between Spain and its African neighbor and approach an Islamic country to learn about the influence of religion on people's lives while escaping stereotypes linked to it.
Our first stop was the port city of Tangiers, where writers such as Paul Bowles or William S. Burroughs got their inspiration for some of their novels from its rambling streets and colorful markets. Students were taken to a women’s center to have lunch, where they met local students and had the chance to talk about social issues regarding youth, career, family, traditions, etc. while tasting local dishes such as couscous and harira soup. The group learned about the role of women in Moroccan society and the use of the hijab, the veil that many women use to identify themselves as Muslim.
In Tangiers, students met a group of sub-Saharan immigrants who are waiting for an opportunity to cross the Gibraltar strait and enter Europe in search of new opportunities. In a meeting facilitated by CIEE staff, students were exposed to the realities of immigration, their daily challenges and the way they survive in a strange land. This was an emotional and instructive moment that opened the eyes and raised awareness about a problem that needs to be addressed urgently.
From Tangiers we moved to the blue city of Chefchaouen in the mountains, where the group was invited for lunch by a local family, having the opportunity to see rural life in Morocco. The members of the family taught the female students how to wear the hijab and showed them how to cook tajin. In this town, the group learned how to bargain and about the bathing rituals at the Hamman.
As an end to the weekend, and before flying back to Madrid, the group travelled to Asilah, a beautiful beach town where they could finally ride camels, leaving the country with the feeling that it had been an intense weekend where new learnings, new approaches and lots of fun mixed together in perfect communion.
LANGUAGE EXCHANGES WITH CIEE
Every semester, CIEE Madrid organizes, together with the host university, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, a series of events to foster opportunities to practice (and improve) Spanish with native speakers. In a fun activity, which is very popular among university students, CIEE participants met Spaniards of their age and shared their interest in learning a new language and making new friends. American students were surprised how interested Spanish students are about the United States, American campus life, their knowledge of American sports and the desire to travel to cities such as New York City or Chicago. CIEE students could exchange WhatsApp and friend them on Facebook, making their first acquaintances on campus with whom to practice their Spanish.
A CLOSER LOOK TO MADRID
As part of our Cultural Agenda, students went on a guided tour to learn about the different areas of the city, especially those neighborhoods they do not explore on their own. This past month, we took them to Barrio de Salamanca, the residential and lively area of Madrid where they found a different physiognomy of the city. Exploring the markets, the commercial area with the most famous fashion designers shops (known as the Golden Mile), the monuments in the area, the cultural options and the history behind the urbanistic plan, resulted in an enriching morning getting to know Madrid a little bit more in depth.
However, their favorite part was the cereal bar in the area where we ended the tour. With a selection of more than a hundred types of cereal from all over the world, students enjoyed a late breakfast ordering their favorite brand with tasty toppings bringing them memories from home.
PROGRAM RD AT CIEE CONFERENCE
Francisco ("Paco") Frisuelos Krömer, Resident Director for the Liberal Arts Program in Madrid, attended the CIEE Annual Conference that was held in Los Angeles, CA from November 16 to November 19. With a topic focusing on Global Education, Paco led a session on "Intercultural Training for Faculty to Develop Global Initiatives" where he spoke about the importance of the acquisition of intercultural skills to improve the role of Faculty in the student's learning process. Together with Elsa Maxwell, CIEE Academic Director for Intercultural Learning, and two Faculty members from Ausgburg College and Marymount University, the session received record attendance by an audience of faculty and HE administrators interested in the topic.
BIKING ALONG THE MADRID RIVER
Discovering new areas of Madrid in the middle of the semester is always a nice activity for students. Although they like to explore the city on their own, there are areas of the city they don't visit on their own when they see them on the map. However, when our staff takes them, they discover the wonders of these new areas. This is the case of the Madrid Rio Park. Students like to run and bike in central parks such as Retiro or Oeste, but after visiting Madrid Rio it becomes one of their favorites. New bridges, lots of areas to relax, playgrounds, running tracks, bike paths, nice cafes,... a great offering along the Manzanares river that becomes a park where they return frequently.
US ELECTIONS: HELPING STUDENTS TO VOTE
With the US Presidential elections, the students needed some guidance in the process of voting from abroad. Thus, we invited a representative of Rock the Vote to our Study Center to help students with the process of requesting their absentee ballots and to be able to vote on time for the US Presidential election. No student missed this meeting showing their strong interest in participating in the electoral process and in supporting their candidate. Living the elections abroad is also a new experience for students by being exposed to a non-American point of view and being asked questions about the process since Spaniards are very interested in learning about this from an American.