Spanish students get first hand experience

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    By JON BYINGTON

    Students who completed the Spring Spanish Intensive Program agree they received more then just a grade and language skills, but an increased understanding of another culture.

    After completing Spanish 201, 202 and 211 during the Spring Term, 20 BYU students left for the last two weeks of the term to live in Mexico.

    “When you begin to understand someone’s language you can begin to understand them,” said program participant Joy Hughes from Lawrenceville, Ga. “They are more then just foreigners.”

    Students lived with LDS families in Ciudad Obregon, located in the state of Sonora bordering the Gulf of California. While in Ciudad Obregon, students had daily opportunities to explore the city and their newly learned vocabulary, but students agree the greatest learning occurred with their host families.

    Hughes said the students spent most of their time with host families learning Mexican customs and culture. The students only spoke Spanish with their hosts.

    Each family agreed to only communicate in Spanish with the students. At times, it resulted in both the families and students having to use their bodies to act out what they were trying to say. The families were patient with each student as they practiced what they had learned during the past six weeks of class.

    Before the trip, students gathered several boxes of clothing and toys to deliver to an orphanage in Ciudad Obregon. While at the orphanage, students were able to meet each child who lived there and spend time playing games. The children smiled and laughed during a juggling show performed by one of the intensive program students.

    Students had the opportunity to express themselves in other forms besides words during a young single adult dance in Ciudad Obregon.

    Besides learning about the customs and cultures of Mexico, students also took time to learn some practical skills needed for anyone visiting Mexico.

    “I learned how to eat a taco without everything falling out,” said Kindra Clemence a sophomore from Davidson, N.C. “I’ll never be able to go back to ground beef tacos again”

    Students were divided into several congregations in one of the three LDS stakes in Ciudad Obregon. Every student had the opportunity to give a talk to the congregation they were attending.

    “I think it was the best talk I have given in my life,” Hughes said.

    As director of the Spanish intensive program, Ana Maria Hawkins taught the course and was responsible for every aspect of the trip.

    “She is so talented,” said Laura Grace Arnold, 20, a senior from Akron, Ohio. “She is an amazing woman.”

    Before returning home, students walked the streets in the historic city of Alamos and relaxed on the beach in San Carlos – both located in Sonora.

    “This trip has only made me want to learn more,” Hughes said.

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