TWC students study abroad in Colombia to learn Spanish, teach English

Posted on: March 17, 2014

Two Tennessee Wesleyan College students recently traveled to Colombia during their 2014 spring break to study abroad.

Two Tennessee Wesleyan College students recently traveled to Bogotá, Colombia during their 2014 spring break to study abroad. Traveling with TWC Assistant Professor of Spanish Dr. Lorena Gómez, Emily Miller and Sara Phelps’ trip to Colombia provided them with a Spanish-speaking environment to practice speaking Spanish as well as the opportunity to teach English at a local Bogotá elementary school.
While in Colombia, Miller and Phelps lived with a native Colombian family who only spoke Spanish. In addition to teaching English to elementary school students, Miller and Phelps also had the opportunity to experience the Colombian culture, visiting cultural sites such as museums, parks, and churches. Traveling to towns such as Zipaquirá, Ubaté, Chiquinquirá, and Villa de Leyva, they also stayed in Paipa for a portion of their trip, where they experienced the culture of a small Colombian town.
“To be able to immerse myself in such a different culture was an experience that I will never forget,” said Miller, a TWC psychology major. “It was rewarding in ways that I never could have imagined. Colombia is a busy city with 8 million people, which is quite different than Athens, Tenn. To be able to experience that different pace was enthralling."
While abroad with Dr. Gómez, Miller and Phelps attended a catholic mass, experienced a family reunion with a large family who only spoke Spanish, and visited various malls, markets and small stores where they spoke Spanish to merchants to make their purchases.
“I learned more in one week abroad than I could have in a whole semester of taking a Spanish class at home,” said Phelps, a TWC religion major. “It was a wonderful experience to live with an actual Colombian family and experience every aspect of their lives. It was also a real challenge, because our Colombian family did not speak English to us, so we really had to use our knowledge of the Spanish language and culture.”
Dr. Gómez hopes to take more of her students abroad in the future.
“I had always dreamed of offering my students the opportunity to travel abroad,” said Dr. Gómez. “I hope that more incoming TWC students choose to minor in a foreign language so that I can bring larger classes abroad to study Spanish.”