This is our second update for the fall 2015 semester. Students are going to their regular classes and signing up for the various cultural activities this semester.
Meeting Spanish Students at the American-English Language Exchange
CIEE staff has organized meeting sessions called American-English Language Exchange with local Spanish students who are interested in knowing more about the local experience of our students on their home campus and find out what are students identify as “American” culture. Several engineering students have joined in to meet Spanish peers and make social contacts after via Facebook to meet up for coffee at the campus cafeteria or even provide additional language lessons.
Cultural Activity: Meet CIEE Staff in a Popular, Local Neighborhood of Madrid
Madrid has over 21 districts that incorporate many distinct and colorful neighborhoods. CIEE staff try to plan activities where students get to look at a part of the city from a local’s point of view – one encounter that had several engineering students was to meet the resident director in Chueca neighborhood, a popular LGTBQ area and community. During the walking tour students learned about the visible and invisible cultural elements of a changing Madrid neighborhood. Chueca is very popular among young Spaniards for its tapas bars, rooftop venues and inexpensive eateries, etc.
Students also learned that Chueca also has a fascinating political, religious and social history. CIEE staff showed some curious architectural designs and also helped students formulate a deeper sense of why Spaniards like to live in Chueca and what this neighborhood means for most citizens.
Learning about Medieval Urban Planning: Day Trip to Toledo
Together with the Student Services coordinator, CIEE students explored areas of significant historic and cultural importance in Toledo on a Friday. They took the bus to Toledo, which is about 50 minutes south of Madrid. Students learned about the medieval city design and the small streets of the city that makes the history and impact of the three cultures in Spain (Jewish, Muslim and Christian) so fascinating. They all lived in close quarters. Participants also explored the nine hills of Toledo to learn and see what makes Toledo a UNESCO-world heritage site. Legacy of Roman Architecture: Day Trip to Segovia
Many students signed up to spend a full day in the northern city of Segovia, which has one of the best Roman “jewels” of water engineering works – the Roman aqueduct – that goes from the Guadarrama mountains all the way into the historic city center of Segovia. First we stopped for a cup of coffee and some breakfast at a local Spanish bar. Then we met our local tour guide who explained the significance of Segovia in Spanish history and then gave a more detailed technical explanation of the aqueduct. Students seemed very impressed by the durability of this aqueduct over the centuries. The group also visited the Alcazar palace, the Gothic cathedral and a few participants tried a typical local dish for lunch, cochinillo, which is a roasted baby pig.
Professional Exposure in Madrid: Students Attending International Conference
Some CIEE students are taking advantage of visiting local conferences on science company start-ups, such as the recent conference being held in Madrid from October 7-9, called the South-Summit. With more than 7.000 attendees, including 3.500 entrepreneurs and 450 investors South Summit has become one of Europe’s most relevant startup up events. CIEE staff helped students to arrange for free tickets as students and many of them got to hear speaker such as Steve Wozniak, known as "Woz", an American pioneer of the personal computer revolution of the 1970s, Renaud Visage, co-founder of Event-Brite, a leading self-service ticketing platform and Gwynne Shotwell, COO of SpaceX, which provides space transport services.
CIEE Staff Training on Intercultural Competence
The Resident Director attended employee training with other CIEE colleagues from around the world at the Study Center in Amsterdam in mid-October. Part of this experience was to get a better grasp on intercultural communication tools while also improving on teaching strategies for one of the new CIEE course electives “Intercultural Communication and Leadership” (3 credits); the ICL course elective is offered to Engineering and Society students. It was great opportunity to share best practices and ideas with other CIEE colleagues on program delivery and student advising. The three-day training also included a guided walking tour of the Jewish Cultural Quarter in the capital city of the Netherlands that addressed the theme of how identity and memory are linked in monuments and oral stories of the Holocaust. We´ll implementing a similar tour with embedded cultural components here in Madrid as part of cultural agenda.