Nikki Eggert is a third-year student majoring in Spanish and pursuing secondary education certification. She received the Walter Chatfield and Alfred P. Kehlenbeck Scholarships which enabled her to attend the Summer Seminar in Spain for Spanish Teachers in June 2013. She spent the majority of her two-week stay in Cáceres and lived with a host family while she took classes in Spanish culture, history and teaching methods at the Universidad de Extremadura in Cáceres. Here she shares some memories of her experience:
“When I returned to ISU to train for a second career as a Spanish teacher, I did not expect to be able to have an international experience, since I also stay at home to raise my two elementary-age children. This two-week program was a perfect fit for me. I traveled with a group of six teachers from Iowa and Michigan. Before we traveled to Cáceres, we spent a weekend in Madrid visiting important historical and cultural sites. In classes I had learned about the famous paintings Las meninas by Velázquez and Guernica by Picasso, but it wasn’t until I actually stood in front of them that I truly began to understand the importance of these works to the Spanish people. They were absolutely awe-inspiring.
“Incredible, amazing, exhilarating, life-changing: these are only a few words to describe my experience abroad. Although I am still learning, I have so much more confidence in speaking Spanish now. I was able to manage some difficulties at a hotel and interpret for a US tourist at a department store. Living with a host family who did not speak English immersed me in the language and daily life. I realized that I did have the language skills to communicate effectively. In addition to my classes, the highlights of my stay were touring the Prado museum (I could have spent hours there!), visiting the Roman ruins at Mérida, and walking around the medieval Ciudad Monumental in Cáceres. I know these experiences are going to enrich my classroom when I am teaching. I truly feel like a global citizen with a new network of colleagues in Spain, and I look forward to sharing this enthusiasm and perspective with my future students. I want to thank the faculty members who made this possible for me; without the scholarships I would not have been able to take advantage of this unique and wonderful opportunity. I look forward to returning to Spain someday!”