While Natalie Vazquez was abroad in Spain, she focused on different aspects of the Spanish culture; such as language, service opportunities and the arts. Natalie’s Heinz Programming Area was Arts and Culture. During the month of July, she attended the University of Alicante to improve her Spanish skills. Every day, she would eat lunch and dinner with her host family and converse with them in Spanish. This gave her the opportunity to comprehend what they were saying and respond in an effective manner. Furthermore, she became involved in an “Intercambio” program, where she was paired up with a student who lives in Spain and is studying English at the university. When Natalie and her intercambio, Maria had a conversation, Maria spoke in English and Natalie responded in Spanish. Every week, Natalie tutored her Spanish host sisters in English. The children’s excitement to learn not only allowed Natalie to be creative with picture books and flashcards, but also helped her improve her ability to explain and distinguish the differences between the languages. During the evenings, Natalie learned flamenco from a native Spaniard at a dance studio called, “Dance Project, Escuela de Danza.” In addition, she dedicated time to filming and photographing locations in Alicante, Valencia, and Granada. She was able to capture cultural events such as professional flamenco dancing, how to make “Tortilla de Patatas,” traditional parades and much more. Since she has a passion for filmmaking, she met with filmmaker, Patricia Martinez, who teaches at a film studio called, “La Cuidad de la Luz” located in Alicante. The interview, conducted in Spanish allowed Natalie to become well informed about the film industry in Spain and learn about future opportunities. As a result of her study abroad experience, Natalie has developed a new appreciation for the Spanish culture and has also been inspired to continue learning about other parts of the world.
CEE Title: Embody the Rhythm
For her CEE, Natalie helped to create Embody the Rhythm, a cultural dance event which highlighted their individual international experiences. In each journey, they experienced passion – for a culture, for a country, for a people. The team shared this passion with an audience of over a hundred people in the O’Hara Ballroom at Pitt Oakland. The audience enjoyed a delicious spread of appetizers catered by Sodexo Food Service followed by twenty-one short cultural performances representing countries as diverse as China, Greece and the Ukraine.