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Español leaks into summer sunshine, learning

By Tara Daly
posted May 26, 2011

Students will immerse themselves and embrace the life that Spain has to offer this coming summer in Salamanca: a place of history, culture, and home of the oldest Spanish university. The mild July heat of Wisconsin will be traded in from July 2 to July 30 as West students travel to a country filled with beaches, Mediterranean cuisine, and sunshine.

“[The program] is a total immersion, with class sizes, maximum of 12 students, taught by native speakers,” said Spanish teacher and coordinator of the Salamanca Spanish program, Gladys Wisnefski.

The program, begun in 1991 by Wisnefski, has given numerous students the opportunity to improve their Spanish speaking skills and experience what other countries have to offer.

“This is a superb opportunity for my young students. A total of 302 have already gone with me,” Wisnefski said.

Students are anxiously waiting to embark on their journey, looking forward to the new experiences of the Catalonian culture. Despite excitment, junior Olivia Schmaltz testifies that leaving the country can be a daunting prospect.

“I am really excited and nervous. I am probably going to get homesick, but it will be a good experience,” she said.

Junior Rebecca Dittberner feels similar but her nervous jitters lie mainly in the unknown, exploring the historic and authentic cities of Spain.

“I am really excited but also really nervous because I have never been out of the country before,” she said. “It will be interesting to be in Spain without my parents for so long.”

Fear of homesickness aside, participants wait in anticipation to explore what Spain has to offer, including interacting with fluent Spanish speakers.

“I will be getting to see historical places and meet people who are truly from Spain, as well as learning how everything works,” said Schmaltz.

Participants will be using the trip to develop their reading, writing, and speaking skills; hoping to grasp a stronger hold on their comprehension of the Spanish language.

“I hope to become a better communicator through talking and listening,” Dittberner said. “Having this opportunity will help me gain a better understanding of the language.”

Many participants in the program believe the experience in Salamanca will not only benefit their Spanish but also help prepare them for the independence and responsibilities of college.

“I hope to gain so much from this experience, from the education to handling my own responsibilities and being independent,” said junior Miriam Berbert. “It will be a great college experience.”

Wisnefski firmly believes that the immersion in a culture is the most effective way of learning a language, connecting with people around the world.

“They learn about college life early. They become ambassadors for their country,” she said.

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