GALDOS CULTURE CLUB
A colorful fruit shop in one of the markets the group visited
As part of the cultural offerings available to the Liberal Arts students, this semester we have created a Culture Club that will provide more opportunities to explore Madrid and learn more about the local culture. Named after a famous 19th century writer, Galdós portrayed Madrid in most of his novels and we will use him as the inspiration to take a closer look at local customs and divulge hidden areas that those students with more curiosity will be able to learn from. Students participating in the Galdós Culture Club, will tour markets to differentiate them according to neighborhoods and types, try new products (such as Spanish fruits) and learn the non-written rules when shopping in them; they will participate in debates with the RD to get an update and new perspectives on current events; and will visit the workshops of several local artists among many other activities scheduled for them to respond to their desire to learn more.
STUDY TRIP TO MOROCCO
Children of Assilah posing with a group of CIEE students
Linked by a shared historical past, Spain and Morocco have cultural ties that cannot be overlooked. Thus, together with our students we embarked on a trip to explore the North of Morocco visiting two cities, Tangiers and Assilah. The idea was to approach a different culture and study the relationship between both countries given the fact that they share borders.
Riding camels at the beach was a lot of fun
Students were very excited with the idea of travelling to Africa and having the opportunity to ride camels, but they did not expect to enjoy participating in local customs like visiting a hamman, (Arab bath), trying local dishes, enjoying their sugary tea with mint or getting a henna tattoo as much as they did. However, the best part of the journey was the unique opportunity to meet local youth who shared with our students their views on Islam, the role of women in Muslim society, the use of hijab or the Moroccan music they listen to.
An immigrant from Nigeria talking to our students
Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of the trip was the talk our students had with immigrants from Sub-Saharan areas, who shared with them the difficulties they have to face living in Morocco as illegal aliens and their desire to cross the border and start a new life in Europe. It was a very moving and eye opening talk which resulted in one of the most intense learning experiences of the group.
Hena tattoos before going out
Students also learnt the history behind the Spanish occupation of Southern Sahara territories, visited a women´s center to see their handicrafts work, learn to write some Arabic words and visited a fashion designer´s workshop where they could try his creations on in a mix of traditional and modern clothing.
REVIEWING HISTORY THROUGH CLOTHING
Ursinus C. and U. of Iowa students at the entrance of the museum
The way people dress is a sign which helps to learn about culture and how it is revealed in people's daily lives. Therefore, visiting the "Clothing Museum" became a journey to the development of cultural norms and habits. From the regional dress that Spanish people wear in local festivals to modern designers, the museum displays 18th century dresses that can easily depict women's role and the social rules they were oppressed by and French influenced garments that speak of a time when the Spanish court was close to French monarchs. The change in the 19th century with the loose creations by Fortuny, and the beautiful dresses by masters such as Balenciaga or Pertegaz are only some examples of the richness offered by this museum that also displays old toys and accessories which helped us to travel back in time.
U. of Minesota student enjoying her Spanish intercambio
Every semester we organize, together with the Language Teaching Services at the host university, a series of events aimed at helping our students meet Spaniards of their same age. One of the most popular ones is the "Meet & Talk" happening, where a group of Spanish university students attended to meet our group of CIEE students. Through a series of funny ice breakers and questions to foster conversation, students mingled and started to get to know each other using their language skills. After changing partners every once in a while, students ended up with a bunch of new telephone numbers they could start using to deepen these newly started friendships that will help them to improve their Spanish and learn about Spain significantly.
STAFF INTERCULTURAL TRAINING
Sonia Sales with other CIEE worldwide staff
Last month, Sonia Sales, Student Services Coordinator for the Madrid Study Center travelled to Istanbul, Turkey, to participate in one of the international cohorts to be trained in Intercultural Communication. This is an ambitious project in which CIEE is focusing much effort, providing all of its employees worldwide training on this field to help them understand differences and be skilled when working with foreign students and professionals who may bring different perspectives and cultural approaches. The sessions were led by Catherine Menyhart, from CIEE Portland and Quinton Redcliffe, from the Cape Town Study Center and counted with the attendance of staff from Chile, Spain, Korea, France, Thailand, Cuba, the Netherlands, and Japan just to mention some countries of origin. An excellent opportunity to put on the table an innovative way to deal with students’ needs and improve everyone's work.
RD NEW BOOK
Francisco "Paco" Frisuelos, Resident Director for the Liberal Arts Program in Madrid, has just published a chapter in a book about Film and representation. This book, edited by Universidad de Granada's Professor Salvador Ventura and published by Université Paris Sud, contains a series of papers discussing different approaches in the way film is used as a means to represent reality.
Thus, Paco Frisuelos is the author of a chapter about American cinema and the uprising of new heroes after September 11. His chapter analyzes how Hollywood films are interested in a new type of character which embodies the new fears and yearnings of American citizens.