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Spain: Language & Leadership 2016



Monica and Sarah here. We hope that you are getting excited for your upcoming Spain trip!  We can’t wait to return to some of our favorite places in the world and experience them in new ways through your perspectives.  Get ready to see many different sides of Spain, from the history and culture of Madrid, to the beauty of nature and sustainable living in Sebulcor and Amayuelas, to coastal life and environmental conservation in Valencia, to incredible architecture and Catalan culture in Barcelona.  It will be an truly unique experience that not many visitors get to enjoy in Spain! Sarah will be leaving on Saturday to spend time in Madrid and Valencia preparing for the trip, and Monica will meet you all at the airport on the June 27th.  Looking forward to meeting you all soon and starting this adventure!

Un abrazo muy fuerte,
Sarah and Monica
June 29, 2016
We’re a day and a half into the trip and a few centuries into the history of Spain. While jet-lagged and weary from travel on the first day, we idled through Parque El Buen Retiro which offered us brightly colored peacocks and broccoli-cut trees. We relaxed by trying our hands at the rowboats in Retiro’s pond – we quickly overcame the learning curve that threatened to keep us rowing in circles. After dinner, we promptly plopped into bed. Our second day started with a walking tour of Madrid. We visited Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, and even saw the Royal Palace. Later in the afternoon we were able to connect-the-dots from our morning history lesson to scenes depicted in El Prado’s world famous art collection. Another couple of meals later, we are now ready to head forth into the rest of what Spain has to offer. Here are our closing thoughts on Madrid – enjoy!
“Que chocolate mas rico” – Emily C.
“Que comida mas sabrosa” – Emily K.
“Que edificios mas grandes” – Sophie D.
“Que parque mas relajado” – Taylor B.
“Que ciudad mas calorosa” – George S.
“Que plaza mas grande” – Kasey B.
“Que arte mas bonita” – Peter M.
“Que parque con pavos reales mas bonitos” – Elizabeth H.
“Que gente mas simpatica” – Annabelle T.
“Que catedral mas grande” – Chase C.
“Que edificios mas bonitos” – Lily D.
July 2, 2016
 We started our third day in Spain with a breakfast, and a short bus ride to the small town of Segovia. Greeted by the massive aqueduct that towered over the town, we headed down the steep cobble stone roads that led up to the cathedral. The cathedral was beautiful, with towering ceilings and stained glass throughout. A large choir room was in the center, complete with the original choir music on display, still in its leather-bound books. We headed further up the road, to a castle rumored to have inspired Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle. We walked through the various rooms filled with medieval furniture and weapon, each with a uniquely patterned ceiling of gold and jewel tones. We climbed up the steep and tiny circular stairway that seemed to go on forever until we finally reached the highest tower of the castle, where we were blown away by the breathtaking views of the Spanish country-side. Golden fields surrounded us, with nothing but clear skies above and the shadows of mountains far in the distance. After clambering back down the tower stairs, we walked around the town a bit more, buying postcards and souvenirs before piling back into the bus to go to  Sebúlcor. In Sebúlcor, we were greeted warmly at a rustic bed and breakfast with a lovely meal, followed by a walk down the empty road that led down miles and miles of serene countryside, bordered by fields of grains and sunflowers.

The next day, we headed out to el Rio Duraton de la Hoz, where we hopped in piraguas (kayaks) and paddled down the river. The curvy river is aptly named after its shape, with “hoz” meaning sickle. We saw buitres, or vultures, all over the walls of canyon the river is in, nesting on the ledges and caves on the rock. Our guide taught us about the vultures and told us stories about the river and the ruins of the medieval convent that borders the river. After a long morning of rowing and a brief swim, we headed back to the bed and breakfast, where we had traditional Spanish paella and had a long, relaxing siesta before heading back out. We walked down to the town soccer pitch, where we played games in the shade before going back for dinner and another after-dinner walk.

For our final day in Sebúlcor, we walked out of town and to a trail, where we hiked to a shady little clearing by a river. We relaxed, playing cards, napping, and dipping our toes in the river until a lovely picnic of sandwiches and watermelon was delivered. After lunch, we had to cross the river to continue our hike, which proved to be a bit of a challenge for the shorter members of our group as we splashed through the freezing river. We hiked up the mountain, taking in the breathtaking views of the river below and the mountains that surrounded us. We hiked back down, the river crossing not quite as bad once we were all hot and bothered. We began the hot and sandy trek back into town, and after a quick ice cream, we all hopped into the bus on our way to Amayuelas.

July 3, 2016

We had our first day of community service in Amayuelas working in their garden or on a chicken coop. On the chicken coop, we put a mix of adobe on the lower half of the outside wall. It was a lot more fun than expected, because we threw the mud on to the chicken coop. In the afternoon, we learned the steps of bread making and that bread is made in 3 phases. The first phase is making the mother dough (masa madre) which is the active ingredient; phase 2, where we started, is combining masa madre with flour and water then rolling it into dough balls; phase 3 is cutting the proper amount of bread and putting it in a baking tray. We also made our dinner, which was pizza.

July 4, 2016

Sadly, there were no fireworks. We began the service with working on the chicken coop finishing the walls or in the garden, which included weeding close to tomato plants. After service, at around 5:45, we walked to a neighboring town and played soccer. There were two games: town vs our group, and chicos vs chicas. Around 8, we could get a drink or ice cream, so a lot of us got an ice cream sandwich which was half cookie and half chocolate all with ice cream in the middle. Then it started to rain, so we took vans back to Amayuelas and had dinner. We closed the night with multiple explosive rounds of two card deck combined BS.
July 5-6, 2016
The day after we celebrated our nation’s independence with soccer game, we got back to work. On July 5th, our world was just a little dirty. We made adobe blocks out of mud. This means that we mixed dirt and water together with our feet, and configured blocks with our hands. After setting out the adobe blocks to bake in the sun, everybody was happy to head home for a shower. We lunched on delicious, homemade Spanish cuisine and started our afternoon workshop; leather making. We designed, produced and almost finished leather pouches with the local leather craftswoman and bee keeper Lidia. The next day, after planting trees and moving wood, we finished our pouches. Finally, after four days in the tiny town of Amayuelas, we closed with a celebratory dinner and included all of our foreign friends. The founder, Melitone, gave a closing speech thanking us for all of our hard work and wishing us safe travels on our trip across España.
July 7, 2016
Fundación Escuela de Solidaridad Community Service Exchange:
The Global Works 2 week Spain trip, which travels to cities in the south such as Granada and Sevilla, collaborates with a community called La Fundación Escuela de Solidaridad (aka FES) near Granada for their community service. This year two of our group members will continue from Barcelona to meet up with the 2 week trip and travel to FES! We were fortunate enough to have two members of the FES community, Mehdi and Desiree join us at Amayuelas for our community service. They came to work alongside our group, participate in language and culture exchange, while also learning about the work of the Amayuelas community so that they can take back new skills to FES.Although it was a short time with them, Mehdi and Desiree were very friendly and fun to hang out with. Mehdi was from Algeria and Desiree was from the Canary Islands. We participated in many activities with them, from making adobe bricks and fresh bread, to playing cards (which was very hard to explain) and just hanging out around the albergue (guesthouse). My favorite experience with Mehdi was playing soccer with him against the locals, mainly because he played professionally in his home country, and my favorite experience with Desiree would be making leather coin pouches and struggling in doing so. Although our time spent together was short, we feel it was well spent and was a memorable experience for all.On Thursday morning we packed up our luggage and said goodbye to the beautiful Amayuelas de Abajo. It was a long bus ride, a total of about 7.5 hours, and we stopped once along the way to eat some lunch. The drive was beautiful. We passed farms, mountains, and small towns along the way. Towards the end of the drive arrived the moment we had all been waiting for: homestay assignments. None of us could wait to get off the bus and meet our families. Finally, the bus let us off next to a beautiful square surrounded by gorgeous architecture where we met our host moms and were taken to our apartments. Of course, the homestay experience is different for everyone, as some Global Works students stay with a partner, or with a family with kids, or pets, and some don’t. One thing, however, was the same for everyone that Thursday night we all created bonds and connections with generous families who live in a completely different culture from ours.

July 8, 2016

Friday morning we woke up bright and early for our first day of service in Valencia. We were picked up by a bus and rode to the wetlands just south of the city. The first job our leader had us do was weed a patio. Not what we expected to do being so close to a more interesting service opportunity, but it was necessary. After we finished our first job we split up into groups to start the real work. Our group put four turtle traps in the swamps so later we could check the traps and get information on the well-being of the native turtle population. To do this, we strapped on waders and waded into nearly chest-deep, murky water and tied the traps to cane plants. Being inside those waders got really hot really fast! The other group collected water plants to relocated to another area of the wetland preserve.

We then had a much-needed, well deserved snack break and set out for our next project of the day. We took buckets of water and watered plants in a dry area. When that was finished we went to the beach! The water was warm and the waves were big. It was a perfect ending to our tough morning of service. We climbed back into the bus, clothes dripping, and went home for lunch and a siesta.

We met up again at 5:00 f0r a bike tour and another visit to the beach. Biking was great because not only did we get to see more of this beautiful city, but we looked so much like tourists that people we passed by cheered for us on more than 5 occasions. The beach was gorgeous, extremely crowded, and had every beach activity imaginable. We had a lot of fun tiring ourselves out there and biking back. We then walked back home, ate dinner and went to sleep.

July 9, 2016

July 9th was another day in Valencia.  Everyone met up at the stadium for another amazing day.  The air was hot and as we all walked to the market each of us were slowly getting sweaty and tired.  Finally as we came to a stop we had a scavenger hunt ahead of us for the morning.  We were all split into groups and were given a list of items to find in the market and a person to interview.  Entering everyone had their minds set on winning.  With looking each team came across some creepy looking dead animals that none of us enjoyed.  The last part of interviewing was a challenge, but we all managed to ask locals certain questions in Spanish.  At the end the winners received cool keychains.  Next we all headed off for a little snack which was horchata, a sweet drink made from tiger nuts, and fartóns, a pastry which you dip in the horchata.  Personally, it had somewhat of a different taste to it.  After, we were treated to an hour of shopping and doing our own thing!  The rest of the day was ours with family to enjoy and spend time with one another.

July 10, 2016

The next day was filled with adventure.  We headed off to a kids camp and helped them make bird food.  Later we played games with the cute kids. After the fun was over we headed off on a hike which was challenging, but worth the time.  After we saw the water all we wanted was to be in it!  We all loved the coldness and cave we went in, then headed back for another hot walk.  Finally we arrived back and we headed off for another evening with our families.

July 11, 2016

After the full weekend we were back to work today.  We worked at a new site called Tancat de la Pipa.  This is a natural park where workers are constantly trying to restore the environment and decontaminate the water.  We rode a barco (boat) down a canal collecting trash with nets as we glided by.  After reaching the visitors center we had a snack and were able to witness bird ringing.  This is when workers record wingspan and weight measurements and out acting around the leg of a bird to keep track of endangered species.  On our way back we stopped on the canal to plant some aquatic plants to help prevent erosion.  After a home cooked lunch with our families and a much needed siesta we were off to our flamenco dance class!  Flamenco is a dance which originated in Andalucía.  In just one short hour of instruction we were able to learn some traditional flamenco dance, including the styles tango and sevillanas.

July 12, 2016

After breakfast with our families we took the bus to the beach for community service work.  Our job was to pull and take out a certain type of invasive plant.  It was really hot, but we worked through the heat and ended up working for a few hours.  After all that hard work we went to a nearby beach and jumped in the water.  The water was amazing and warm.  We ate our lunches our homestay families packed for us and played in the water.  Then we went for a quick gelato and raced to the boat.  We were a little late for it, but we made it!  We sat out and relaxed on the boat.  It was so pretty.  Then they stopped the boat and let people go in the water.  Some of us went or jumped in.  It was scary at first, but felt amazing!  Then we headed home to our host families for dinner.

July 13, 2016
Today, after breakfast with our host families, we took the bus to work.  Once we were there we weeded plants and watered trees.  Afterwards we walked to the beach, just across the way, but it was too dangerous to swim in so we just skipped rocks and put our feet in.  We took the bus home for lunch with our families and had a siesta until around 6:00, when we went to learn how to make paella.  After making the paella, our families joined us for a goodbye dinner!
July 14, 2016
Saying good-bye to our host moms was hard. After some motherly lectures about life, big hugs, and many pictures the group was off to Barcelona. The four hour train ride was slow but had some beautiful views. We checked into our hostal and went out to lunch. The day was full of great shopping and funny pictures. After some time to rest at the hostal, we left for our dinner at 100 Montaditos. 100 Montaditos is a Spanish restaurant that is chain-like in its pervasiveness throughout the country. It has an extensive menu of small, couple-bite, sandwiches that you can order (in any amount) for dinner. Most of us ordered four to five sandwiches – this even included dessert sandwiches with oreos! We had a great time here and were excited to learn that there is a 100 Montaditos in New York City. After dinner, we headed to the Palau de la Musica for our flamenco show. Palau de la Musica is an impressive building on the outside with shiny chandeliers and detailed decor on the inside. Once inside we all settled in for a our flamenco show. After some vibrant colors and a lot of rhythmic foot stomping, we headed home. Buenas noches!
July 15, 2016
On Friday, July 15th we started the day with a walking tour of Barcelona led by a former homeless man who showed us around both historical and social service areas of Barcelona. Afterwards, we had free time on Las Ramblas to do a little shopping and exploring of this famous street. Then we had lunch close to the Passeig de Gracia. After lunch, we had time to walk around the Passeig de Gracia which is also a well-known Spanish avenue. Then we walked to Gaudi’s famous Sagrada Familia – an extravagant cathedral which is still under construction. After marveling at the architecture we walked back to the hotel. On our walk back we stopped for a refreshing drink of water, soda, or powerade. Upon arriving at the hotel, we retired to our rooms for a much needed siesta. In the evening, we went to a restaurant for tapas for dinner. Dinner was followed by gelato and a walk through Barcelona.
July 16, 2016
Last day in Spain! We started the day with breakfast, and took the metro to a gondola. From there, we took a gondola ride up and got a beautiful view of Barcelona. We walked down, playing some games and working on group activities, and stopped at the Boqueria Market for some lunch and walked over to the the beautiful Pablo Picasso museum. Afterwards, we walked back to the hotel, did some packing, and took another metro to an amazing dinner at a restaurant on top of a former bullfighting ring, which overlooked Plaza de España. Then, we walked to the Magic Fountain show, where we were able to watch a lively, bright, and colorful water fountain. We couldn’t stop laughing and singing as the water sprayed us making us soaking wet. I couldn’t have thought of a better ending to this amazing adventure in Spain. This is a trip we will remember forever.