CBC students study sociology and Spanish in Puerto Rico through immersive Summer Study Program

Headline: CBC students study sociology and Spanish in Puerto Rico through immersive Summer Study Program 

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From July 5-18, ten students traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico as part of the Coastal Bend College (CBC) Summer Study Program. Students participated in a CBC faculty led immersion program in which they earned Spanish and sociology college credits. The program completed its fifth year and plans are underway to return in summer 2016.

Through a generous grant from the Joe Barnhart Foundation students were able to offset the cost of participating in the program. For many students, participation in this program would not have been possible without the aid from this grant. Students who participated in the program include current CBC students, dual enrollment students from Orange Grove High School and a transient student from Sam Houston State University (SHSU).

CBC Social Sciences Division Chair and Assistant Professor of Psychology/Sociology Kelly Rea, as well as CBC Spanish Instructor and Orange Grove ISD Spanish faculty member Anna Garza, led the Summer Study Program. These instructors accompanied the student group and supervised all program activities, assessed student progress on a daily basis, offered out of class assistance with coursework, administered the final exams and assigned the final course grade.

Students attended classes with CBC and Puerto Rican professors at the Institute for Second Language Acquisition (ISLA), lived with hospitable Puerto Rican families, participated in cultural excursions and activities to interesting sites across Puerto Rico and experienced life in a different environment.

The group visited many attractions during their two-week stay. Students completed assignments on their experiences and applied what they learned in the classroom to these experiences. Some of the experiences included: a tour of Viejo San Juan complete with a guided tour of the city; a visit to María de la Cruz Cavern and Piñones Lagoon in the northern city of Loiza; meeting famed artist Samuel Lind and touring his home and studio; recreational days at Isla Verde beach as well as many other popular beaches; ethnographic interviews at the local farmer’s market and Mall of the Americas; and kayaking in the bioluminescent bay in Fajardo.

A new experience for students this year was the opportunity to participate in a service-learning project. For this project students learned about the Waldorf curriculum and helped ready The W School for its opening on August 11, 2015. The Waldorf curriculum is an alternative to traditional education that emphasizes the holistic approach to student development and learning. It is widely accepted and used in Europe and making some movement in the United States. The W School is a pre-school owned and operated by ISLA Director Sacha Delgado.

Another first for students was experiencing water rationing. Due to recent low levels of rainfall many areas of Puerto Rico are facing water rationing. Though students were housed in homes equipped with cisterns, students still experienced first-hand what is feels like and means to have a water shortage. This was a great lesson and discussion topic on the need and methods of conserving natural resources.

For more information about CBC’s Summer Study Program, please contact CBC Social Sciences Division Chair and Assistant Professor Kelly Rea via phone (361) 354-2401 or via email mkdrea@coastalbend.edu.

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