ASC Study in Mexico Program sees continued success

(11-07-2008)

For the last five years, the Adams State College Study in Mexico Program has offered opportunities for a diversity of students to immerse themselves in the Spanish language and Mexican culture.

During the summer Adams State College students travel to Guanajuato, Mexico and spend two weeks to four weeks living with Mexican families, attending the Instituto Miguel de Cervantes, and experiencing the culture first-hand.

Sandra Lundquist received her master's degree from Adams State and is a teacher at the Rocky Ford elementary school. "The conversations with the family at lunch and dinner were rewarding," she said. "I could use my Spanish and learn interesting things about the family and the city. My very favorite experience were the dance lessons, I love to dance."

The Instituto Miguel de Cervantes provides all levels of Spanish classes, from beginner to advanced. Classes are held from 9 a.m. until noon Monday through Friday, with the option of private afternoon classes for an extra charge. Participants must demonstrate at least a beginning level of Spanish proficiency and must be 18 years of age or older.

"I have a bilingual degree in elementary education and a master's in special education," Lundquist said. "I don't always have the opportunity to use my Spanish on an everyday basis, so I decided to do a tune-up and submerge myself in the culture and language."

Dr. Grace Young, professor of sociology at Adams State College, travels with the group to help ease the transition into Mexican culture. She teaches a one-credit course, The Foreign Study Experience, to help participants prepare for the experience. The class will meet for one weekend in the spring 2009 to discuss issues such as culture shock, acquiring passports, and how to get the most out of the experience.

"Dr. Young does a good job of organizing the trip and makes sure the students are orientated to the city before she leaves," Lundquist said.

The Instituto has been in operation since 1981 and has a reputation as an excellent Spanish language institute. It provides afternoon and evening activities such as dance lessons, visits to museums, hikes, and weekend excursions to nearby artisan sites and archaeological ruins.

"There is one single, solitary focus: Spanish," Young said. "You can't but improve in such an intensive, focused program. It is a great opportunity for students and community members. I hope to do a community/student combined group this coming June."

"This trip was worth it and I did improve my speaking and writing skills," Lundquist said. "My typical day was having breakfast, catching the van to the school, classes with fun teachers, good conversation. Each day we had an excursion or activity, you could also schedule a one-on-one lesson in town at a local cafe."

Guanajuato, Mexico is located one-half hour from Leon in central Mexico. Program participants live with families where meals and a room are provided. Depending on the length of stay, participants are eligible to receive four credits in Spanish and three credits in Sociology, at the bachelor's or graduate level, from Adams State College.

"The host family made me feel welcome and comfortable," Lundquist said. "I felt like a special person, what a vacation for me, I didn't have to cook, clean, do dishes or laundry. The home was clean and had all the comforts of home."

On regular afternoons, students meet with teachers for refreshments and casual conversations in Spanish.

Lundquist said she enjoyed walking home from school, going to museums and bookstores, sightseeing, shopping and Salsa lessons. "We always had something to do or someone to meet down in the center."

For more information regarding the summer 2009 program contact Young at 719-587-7142. "My plan is to take my husband back to visit my host family," Lundquist said.

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By Linda Relyea