What I Learned Through The Castañeda Scholarship

Montana Dare is a student at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington and is an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Sevilla, Spain.

Looking back, my best purchases in Sevilla this semester were a metro ticket to volunteer at a school, a bus pass to become a tutor, and three servings of gelato a week. Maybe that’s an excessive amount of ice cream, but I cannot remember a single time I ever regretted an Oreo gelato.

Other than amazing ice cream, these experiences stand out to me because they made me feel like I was fully immersed in Sevilla. When I volunteered in my students’ English class or helped tutor them with their homework, or ate the best gelato in Sevilla, I was an active part of the local community.

Coming to Spain, I knew I would be greatly impacted by the culture but I did not imagine the impact I would be able to have on Spain. Working with families and schools in Spain was where I learned the most Spanish language, culture, and heart. They all welcomed me into their homes and their lives without hesitation. Where they struggled in English I struggled in Spanish and we learned that laughter and multiple explanations of the same thing multiple days in a row was very necessary.

If my students have learned anything from me about English it is that you don’t have to be perfect to be understood so feeling like your English is inaccurate is no excuse to stop talking. I hope that one day they all travel and share this type of open and loving conversation with whoever they talk to in whichever language they speak. However, coming abroad showed me that you do not have to travel to make a positive impact through diversity of people. Diversity is everywhere. Sometimes you may have to be more intentional to seek out and become involved with others, but within any community there is room to travel into the hearts of others. Thanks to the Castañeda Scholarship, I was able to come to Spain and learn something worth sharing wherever I am in the world.

The world awaits…..discover it!

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