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Spain study abroad provides new approach for students

This summer's "UNG in Spain" study abroad experience provided a variety of cultural experiences for 22 students and two faculty members.

The five-week "UNG in Spain" study abroad experience this summer included walking about 12 miles a day for a week along the Camino de Santiago, a network of pilgrimage routes. It also featured stays with host families in Cuenca and A Coruña.

A visit to Madrid and an optional trip to Valencia were also a part of the Spain study abroad for 22 UNG students led by faculty members David Hair, director of language labs at UNG, and Dr. Alfredo Poggi, assistant professor of Spanish. The longtime program took on a new look this year after previously being primarily based in the southern part of the country.

Between instruction provided through UNG and partner True Spanish Experience, students gained nine hours of course credit during the May 17-June 23 Spain experience. Hair said the credits helped some students complete their Spanish minor.

"By staying with two different host families I was able to compare and realize that every family is different, and that is a good thing because you get to learn from both of them," said Ximena Luna, a junior from Mexico who is pursuing a Spanish degree and earned a Gilman scholarship to pay for the trip. "The three Spanish classes I took in Spain were really useful because I was able to learn from a professor from there, with different teaching methods. I think every day I learned something new."

Interactions with host families and extracurricular activities such as lessons in surfing, kayaking, cooking, and dance all provided avenues for students to practice their language skills. UNG students and faculty walked the Camino Inglés portion of the historic walkway with a local guide who shared historical and cultural facts at stops along the way.

More than 200 University of North Georgia (UNG) students participated in study abroad programs this summer, including some 131 who took part in faculty-led programs.

Another faculty-led study abroad program this summer ventured to Peru for two weeks and focused on the preservation of historical records. Dr. Alexander Wisnoski, assistant professor of history, took nine UNG students to the Peruvian National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History. They learned about the collection of artifacts, how to protect them and how to present them to the public.

peru study abroad 2019

Nine students from UNG went to the Peruvian National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History. They learned about the collection of artifacts, how to protect them and how to present them to the public.

"It showed the students the unique work that goes into preserving history," Wisnoski said.

A visit to the historical site Machu Picchu was the highlight for most of the students.

The students stayed in an apartment in a neighborhood, which facilitated further learning.

"It wasn't like we were tourists," said Stephanie Aviles, a senior from Buford, Georgia, who is pursuing a history education degree. "It was like we were living there for a little bit."

Aviles and Trey Bone, a junior from Monroe, Georgia, pursuing a history education degree, said their Peru experience will give them extra credibility in their future classrooms.

"Being able to teach something that you've seen, you can make a better connection," Bone said.

Sheila Schulte, associate vice president for international programs, said these summer study abroad experiences play a crucial role in the Center for Global Engagement's mission.

"Participating in a faculty-led study abroad program is an excellent first taste of study abroad," Schulte said. "It helps students gain confidence so they can continue on that path of going abroad again and again."

That was the case for Melissa Silva, who plans to graduate in summer 2019 with a degree in modern languages with a Spanish language and literature concentration. The Gainesville, Georgia, resident attended the Spain study abroad on a Gilman scholarship.

"It makes me want to see more of the world," Silva said. "I feel like I haven't seen enough."

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