University of Pittsburgh | GreensburgHeinz Programming Area:
Nicole Williams spent four weeks in Madrid, Spain studying the Spanish language and Spanish culture. She became a Madrileña by living in a neighborhood with a host family. She became fully immersed in Spanish culture by meeting locals and spending time with them, as well as by experiencing what activities they like to do. Nicole also had conversations with her host mother and friends from Madrid about the economy in Spain and about government issues and the presidential elections that were occurring during her stay in Madrid. Young people were voicing their opinions about politics by protesting and sleeping in tents in the center of the city. The young people made Nicole realize that leadership is very important and sharing your opinions with others can make change. Nicole also went to various cities like Toledo, Granada, and Santander, where she learned the history of the Royals, the importance of religion to Spaniards and contributions that Muslims made to Spain. Flamenco and bullfighting were other activities Nicole had the privilege to experience. Flamenco is an art to Nicole, and a very passionate and emotional dance that she would like to learn more about. Bullfighting is an interesting and controversial event that Nicole experienced. It is still a popular sport in Madrid and a dying sport in other parts of the country, but still a recognized part of Spanish culture. Nicole enjoyed her stay in Spain. She came into the profound realization that becoming educated about the culture and traditions of other nations, - whether they are beautiful or controversial – is key to developing a global perspective.
CEE Title: Bridging the GAP
For her CEE, Nicole helped to design Bridging the GAP, a program designed for students in the tenth grade to gain a sense of global awareness and openness. That, in turn, would allow them to have a greater curiosity and acceptance of different cultures and values. She and her team volunteered at the Obama Academy for International Studies for five days, with each day relating to a different aspect of their goal.