When I think of my time in the Teach and Learn in Spain Master Program, I remember it with fondness. It was a time of great learning, travel adventures, cultural exploration, and of tremendous professional and personal growth. Upon finishing a two-year service tour with the United States Peace Corps in Morocco, I was contemplating returning to the workforce or pursuing a master’s degree. During my time in Morocco, I had hopped over to Spain a couple of times for vacation and found that I really enjoyed the vibe. As a foodie, the culinary scene was certainly an attraction. As an avid hiker, Spain offered many amazing treks through its many sierras and its famous Camino de Santiago. Also, as a Venezuelan-American, the country’s language and history made up a part of my heritage. There were a lot of things I wanted to explore in Spain; thus, when I applied and was later admitted, it was an easy decision to cross the Atlantic once again.
Wanting to put my Spanish to the test, I signed up for the program’s Masters en Enseñanza de la Lengua, Literatura y Cultura en el Mundo Hispánico. Teach & Learn in Spain Master Program staff confirmed that all courses in that program with the exception of one would be in Spanish. I lived in Venezuela until I was ten years old and completed primary school there, but aside from that I had not had much formal Spanish coursework in secondary or in college so I was a bit nervous about my ability to keep up with the material. Fortunately, the Instituto Franklin-UAH professors offered a tremendous amount of support and I appreciated how receptive and adaptive they were with everyone’s level of Spanish. The semi-presencial (hybrid online and in-class) format that the institute was piloting meant that more interaction took place online, which translated to more writing. My preference was for more in-class dialogues, which played into my speaking strength, but in a way I’m glad I was part of the hybrid format because the added reading and writing assignments certainly raised my Spanish language competencies and gave me more confidence in the language.
In addition to the language challenges, I thought the curriculum was innovative and insightful. I was immediately able to apply the experiential learning approach I was taught in the classroom in my student teaching. Getting a basis of linguistic theory, grammar, and pedagogy helped me develop lesson plans and improved collaboration with my colleagues. Also, learning about Spain’s contemporary history, the evolution of the Spanish language, and the diversity of cultures in the Hispanic world gave me greater insight into my Latin American roots and helped me understand some of the key differences and similarities between Spain and Latin America.
The Teach and Learn in Spain Master Program has impacted my professional career and contributed to my personal growth in a number of ways. For one, gaining a better understanding of my Latin roots and of the Hispanic world has given me a better sense of my identity and has facilitated my relationship-building with the Latino community. Secondly, because of my improved Spanish-language skills and pedagogical understanding, I believe I am a more effective teacher, mentor, intercultural facilitator, and community advocate. Lastly, the immersion experience of living, working, and studying in Spain was very enriching. I capitalized on opportunities to trek the countryside and to partake of many cultural festivities, and I have a lot of great memories as a result.
Overall, I feel the program and the experience as a whole have a lot to offer. What one gains from them is dependent on what one wishes to explore. I say explore away, partake, and enjoy the experience!
Jonathan Santeliz, Franklin Alumni Máster en Literatura y Cultura en el Mundo Hispánico 2011-2012
Jonathan is currently completing his MBA at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. He is also a Graduate Assistant for the Jane Brock-Wilson Women in Management Center. He continues to root for Atlético Madrid, believes that a pincho de tortilla española con café con leche makes for a fine breakfast, and thinks the Spanish siesta should be adopted worldwide.