College of Education Students Gain Global Perspective in Spain
By Julia Hettiger
UTEP Marketing and Communications
Ten students from UTEP’s College of Education had the opportunity to spend their Maymester studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain. Studying special and bilingual education, the trip allowed students across different disciplines to learn, engage and gain experience in another country, gain a global perspective and elevate their education and skills.
“For some of these students, it’s their first experience traveling,” said Beverly Calvo, Ph.D., department chair for the Department of Counseling, Special Education and Educational Psychology. “For some, they’ve never been on a long trip or traveled without their families.”
In addition to taking courses required by their degree programs, students visited local schools, engaging directly with the educational programs available to children in Spain. Students also visited Orden Hospitalaria de San Juan de Dios, a local center that serves individuals from birth through adulthood with low-incidence disabilities, and heard from guest speakers who educated them about the special education system in Spain.
“Studying in a new country like Spain elevated my education as it opened up a way of thinking and perspectives that I had about education,” said Andrea Nunez, a senior education major. “One of the biggest things I learned was their mindset on solidarity. A very common saying I heard often was, ‘Hoy por ti, mañana por mi,’ which roughly translates to, ‘Today for you, tomorrow for me.’ This saying and mentality really stuck with me in the way I want to help those around me along with something I hope to teach my future students.”
Partially funded by a donation from the Dr. Lou Ella Burmeister Enriching Horizons Student Travel Excellence Gift fund, education students were joined by students in the rehabilitation sciences and speech language pathology programs at UTEP’s College of Health Sciences for three weeks in Sevilla. Calvo noted this served as a unique opportunity for students from different disciplines to interact with and learn from one another.
“It was an opportunity for them to not only build relationships with students in education but also from different fields,” Calvo said. “All of the students might [have experience] working with individuals with disabilities at some point in their lives, but they had never really come together to talk about it as a whole group.”
Students also had the opportunity to visit some of Spain’s most historic sites and to gain experience traveling through the country by bus, train and on foot, giving members of the group the chance to get to know each other.
“My favorite part about the trip was being able to bond with individuals that had I not gone on this study abroad [trip], I would've never connected and interacted with,” Nunez said.
The trip to Spain became a mainstay for Calvo’s students in 2018. Though the program took a hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s set to become an annual opportunity for students in the department.
The program started after a happenstance encounter with a colleague in the hallway when Calvo mentioned her desire for a study abroad opportunity for her students.
“It was just running into the right people at the right time,” Calvo said. “The person who taught me how to do the study abroad programs was Mr. Hector Enriquez, an adjunct faculty member in Liberal Arts. He had done many trips before, and I happened to meet him and mentioned something about study abroad. He said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll teach you how to do it.’”
Because of this fateful encounter, students within the College of Education now have another opportunity to learn and grow thousands of miles away from home.
To learn more about study abroad opportunities available to UTEP students, visit www.utep.edu/student-affairs/oipsa/study-abroad/.