¡Hola! ¡Bienvenidos a España !
We’re so happy to have all of our students here in the Carmen neighborhood which is located in the historic center of Valencia!
After we settled into Innsa hostal, we enjoyed the sunshine and played a few “rompehielos” (ice breakers) outside to get to know all 22 students, 3 US staff, and the local Spanish team. We looked over the schedule of the fun filled two weeks in Spain, and started orientation.
For dinner, we shared a delicious tuna and rice dish with fresh melon for dessert. We’re ready for our first full day tomorrow, which includes a walking tour around Valencia and 2 Spanish classes!
Note: Natalia and Pierson will be joining us tomorrow!
Chris, Julie, Lexi, Noelia
July 19th, 2017
We had quite the jam-packed first (full) day in Valencia. Our morning started with a light breakfast provided by the owners of the hostel we are staying at, Juan and Teresa. We followed up with a tour of the city. We saw the Torre de Serranos, one of the ten gates in the wall which stood around the city still standing from the time of the Muslim reign in Spain. We also saw the town hall, the basilica, the market and three main squares of the city. After our guided tour, we went to Spanish class, where we were tested on our skills of the language and placed into two groups accordingly. At three o’clock we returned to the hostel for lunch which consisted of a light salad and a savory vegetarian paella. After lunch, we took a relaxing siesta. At 6:30, we returned to Spanish class for our first lesson. After 2 hours or so at Spanish class (and a pit stop for award-winning gelato) we returned to the hostel to discuss out stories of self. We basically were split in half and went with our respective mentors to a private location where each of us would talk about what brought us to this program or general information about themselves. This was eye opening for all of us as we shared some deep information about ourselves. This brought us closer together because of our newly acquired understanding if each other. Finally, at 9:30, dinner was served. Juan and Teresa served a lovely salad and spaghetti with meat sauce. After our meal, we had some free time for bonding and then a well-deserved rest.
Written by Aidan and Stella
Today, July 20th was our second full day of the trip. It was also our first day of volunteering. We woke up at 9:00am and had breakfast at 9:30am. After breakfast we went on a bus ride that took us to the camp. At the camp, there were many kids of all ages. The youngest kid was 4 and the oldest kid was 12. These kids were from all over the world.
At first, we all went into a circle with the kids and one of the camp adults and Noelia gave us a quick brief of what we were going to do there in the next few days. Then we all introduced ourselves to different kids. We said our names, shook hands, tapped shoulders, tapped feet, tapped knees, kissed each other’s cheeks and hugged. It was a very cute introductory game.
After that we were free to do whatever we wanted with the kids. Some people played soccer with the campers and some people played red light green light. Other people played hand games with the campers and they taught us the Spanish song. Some other people were talking one on one with the campers. This one girl started doing everyone’s hair and we did her hair. All the campers were so cute and were correcting all of our Spanish. Everyone had a great time with them and can’t wait to come back.
After volunteering and a hard goodbye with the kids, who we already are very close with, we headed to our Spanish classes. The lessons are more fun than we could have possibly imagined. I can only speak for my class, but we are so lucky to have someone like Nuria (the profesor) and all of us have already learned – and laughed – a lot. For me, it’s very exciting because there is a special pronoun, “vosotros” that they only use in spain. It is the equivalent of “you all” and it’s very exciting for me to hear people actually using it rather than just reading it on the verb conjugation lists you get in school. Lunch was a cold tomato soup with bread, which is a traditional Spain dish. We had a small siesta afterwards. At siesta everyone branches off and does their own thing. Many of us write in our journals or text and call our friend and family, but others socialize in the common room, eat one of the snacks in the kitchen, or shower.
After the siesta we went out into an open space in a park very near the hostel and did “speed friending”. We created an inner circle and an outer circle so that two people were facing each other and then responded to the question Lexi gave us. Then the people in the inner circle would rotate to talk to a new person with a new question. One thing we focused on was having big talk rather than small talk so we could actually build trust and a relationship, as well as have a real conversation. This activity was really popular.
Following that, we had yet another Spanish class. Today and yesterday are the only days we will have double classes.
Over all, today was wonderful. We’re constantly getting closer and having great conversations. The whole group works very well together, and it was impressive how well things went with the kids and how quickly we formed relationships with them despite age and language differences in some of us. I’m so excited for tomorrow!
-Nola and Elisa
Leaders of the Day
July 21, 2017
Today we all volunteered in one big group today, it was raining but we were all having a great time. We sang, we played and we danced in the rain. The children at the school had such a good time as well. Then after volunteering we got to spend a few hours at the beach. The beach was the highlight of most people’s day, and yes parents we did put on sunscreen. After the beach we had Spanish class and we learned so many phrases that will definitely help us out.
Written by Haley and Nicole
July 23rd, 2017
we woke up late at 9:30 and had breakfast. Then, we went flamenco dancing. We learned different rhythms and beats and had a lot of fun practicing a traditional Spanish dance. After that we ate gelato at Valénte which is our favorite gelato spot in Valencia because it has the best flavor in Spain called clasificado. We took a siesta after gelato and ate stew at lunch. Then, we took a boat tour of the albuferas which are the biggest wetlands for rice in Europe and are very important. We ate horchatas con chocolate on the boat while enjoying the view. After the boat ride we explored the town of near the albuferas which held the traditional houses of Valencia and is the birthplace of paella. Finally, on our way home we ate ice cream shaped into flowers in the city, and then ate dinner at the hostel. Then later that night we went into our mentor groups and did a few short but exciting activities to help us understand what kind of leader we are.
-Justin and Jonah
July 25, 2017
Today, we started our day by having breakfast and heading to the school to volunteer. Each of us got a partner and we walked with them to a local park to do activities and play with the kids. One group of kids practiced for their theatre presentation that will occur on their last day of camp, which is this Thursday, while the others played tag, talked in circles, or played games. We walked back to the school with the kids and had about an hour to talk with them. After volunteering, we arrived back at the hostel and had paella con mariscos (camarón y pulpo) for lunch. Maya drew pictures that were cut in half, so we had to pick up one half and find our matching person. After eating lunch and our siesta, we went to the beach. Soon after that, we travelled to our last Spanish class. At the end of the class, each of us received a certificate in celebration of our completion of the course. Then, we walked back to the hostel where we ate dinner (which was spaghetti) and celebrated JFast’s birthday by singing “happy birthday” and eating brownies as our desert. In addition to our usual shoutouts at the end of each day, we shouted out J-Fast to express our appreciation for the amazing work she does to make this program fun, positive, and a learning experience.
- Gillian and Madeline
July 27, 2017
Today we started with an early morning for our adventure activity: white water rafting. After a bus ride, we arrived in the beautiful city of Montanejos where we were given wetsuits, helmets, and life jackets before getting in the raft. Our ride down the river was full of rapids and even a waterfall! We even had to get out of the raft once to avoid a tricky situation. There were many opportunities for us to face our fears with cliffs to jump off of. It was a great experience.
We visited “Los Baños” after rafting which is a river with room for people to swim, play, and picnic. Some of us took naps, while others went to walk and explore the landscape of the canyon we were in.
After a well needed break, we began to prepare ourselves for shopping in the heart of Valencia. Originally, groups were created according to interests (sports apparel, vintage, etc.). However, after around half an hour, we were allowed to roam free in designated areas. People bought food, shoes, clothing, accessories, and multiple other authentic Valencian items. We found our way home just in time for dinner (mac n cheese), and all were happy for the break.
Then, as a surprise, we were offered a trip to a local concert. About ¾ of us went, and had a blast! The live music was great, as was the atmosphere. Those who attended enjoyed themselves thoroughly, and fell asleep immediately upon return from exhaustion.
Overall, we had quite a spectacular Saturday in Spain.
Written by Maya and Julia
On our 7th day of this adventure, we had an exceptionally fun-filled day! To start of the day we had “desayuno” at 7:45, so we were all up bright and early. Soon, we all departed the hostel to volunteer. As for us all, it does not seem as volunteering for the reason that we all enjoy every minute of our time there. Today our time with these amazing children included playing a soccer game (World Cup style) and also being taught various circus tricks!
Our next activity for the day was the paella and cajon workshop. Everyone got to watch traditional paella (which originated in Valencia) be cooked! The cajon is a box-shaped percussion instrument that is common in Spanish culture. This workshop was while the paella was cooking, and when it was over we enjoyed paella for lunch. We had free time after lunch and a few took a much needed siesta.
Wifi: this is what we had all been waiting for! We were very lucky to have time in a cafe to catch up on our online activity. From here, we went to Spanish class. Spain is a wonderful environment to learn Spanish, we are all constantly using our best Spanish to communicate with either locals, the children, and often our amazing local coordinator Noelia. Following class, we walked through the beautiful streets of Valencia to a class that informed us on immigration. This class was very helpful in giving us the answers to all questions we may have had about immigrants in Spain. Overall, it was a great day for everyone. Today marks the halfway point of the trip and everyone is very ecstatic for the upcoming week and also very glad for the memories we have made in the past week.
Written by: Kirsten and Giorgio
July 26, 2017
Today we woke up at 7:15, had breakfast, and then split into Groups A and B. Group A went to the school first and had a big water fight with the kids! At the same time, Group B was at the hostel doing leadership activities, discussing identity and privilege, such as gender, sexuality and education, as well as a teamwork activity. Then, Groups A and B switched. After siesta all of us went to the Horchata Museum. We learned about the history of Horchata and the Alquerias (which were rural homes for the Arab elite). We also got to try Valencia Horchata! Finally, we ended the day by going out for dinner. We were able to explore the restaurants of Valencia and taste its distinct cuisine. Then we ate gelato! Overall, it was an eventful and exciting day!
By: Mia and Gabby
We spilt into two service groups today: group A and B. Group A went to service from 8-1 while group B went to service from 1-5. While each group was at the school, the others performed a leadership activity that tested our group dynamics and flexibility. The activity begun with us writing down our hopes and dreams on small slips of paper and putting them in a Tupperware container. We were each then given one of 3 handicaps. A third of us were blindfolded, but were the only ones allowed to touch the materials that would enable us to remove our hopes and dreams from the “pit of death”, which was a circle of string on the ground. Another third was prohibited from talking but could touch those who’d been blindfolded. The final third could only talk and couldn’t touch anything. The goal was to get the trash bin with our hopes and dreams off the trash bin it was sitting on but not drag it out of the circle. This activity helped shift the focus from those who would normally lead group activities and new leaders stepped up to take their places.
During Group B’s time at the school, we kept it fairly low-key. We painted, wrote on the chalkboard and played some casual soccer matches. Later, we sung with the kids in front of their parents who were visiting for an end-of-program party.
Next, we bussed over to a bike shop to begin our bike tour of El Rio, a river converted to a park that runs through Valencia. We explored a huge Gulliver’s head and visited the new Science Museum. Our group especially enjoyed a specially engineered wall where we split in half and talked through holes to communicate with each other from all the way across the courtyard.
Written by Ethan and Natalia
It’s hard to believe that our final full day in Valencia has come! We started the day with our typical breakfast and travelled to the school for our last day of service. A teacher read collected notes of our favorite memories from the school and students took turns sharing special bonds that were made or gave thanks to someone. After snack, the kids changed into bathing suits and we had water activities like water balloons and a slip and slide. We finished with another farewell followed by some very hard goodbyes. Most left the school teary-eyed and sad for that chapter of the trip to close, yet excited to travel to Barcelona in only a few hours.
Once we returned from volunteering we got together for a leadership activity. The activity required all of us to stand on a line. Julie, or as we call her J-Fast, would read off statements, if these statements were relevant to our lives we would walk forward. The people who these statements applied to would then make eye contact with those who did not walk forward. The statements covered a broad range of topics.
Following the leadership activity we split into our mentor groups. Once we were all in our mentor groups we talked about the activity and how being vulnerable is important to the growth of relationships and figuring out who we truly are.
We then returned to the hostel for a mac n cheese lunch. After lunch, we had an hour to pack for our exciting trip to Barcelona. After everyone was packed, we walked to the bus. The bus ride was roughly four and a half hours. A plethora of activities accord on the bus ride. Some people took naps, while some listened to music, others watched movies, and some just talked. One group of girls was paid to be quiet for the second half of the ride, the bus was subsequently more peaceful afterwards.
At round 8:30/9 we arrived in Barcelona. We got our room assignments and had a short period of time to unpacked before we had to meet up again and go to dinner. For dinner we had chicken, with some great ice cream for dessert.
After dinner we went back to the hotel. We all hung out for some time before we had to go to bed. At around 12:00 we all headed to bed. The wifi and air conditioning were a highlight of many people’s nights.
By: Elise and Pierson
Today we enjoyed many of Barcelona’s beautiful features. After a refreshing breakfast of more than toast and tomatoes, we went to Park Güell and learned a lot about the history of the park while viewing the scenery and famous architecture. After the park, we went to the beautiful La Sagrada Familia. Although it isn’t complete yet, the church was breathtaking with its tall ceilings and stained glass everywhere. The stained glass is positioned in a way that changes the color of the church as the day progresses. Finally, we took a tour of the city from the eyes of former homeless men. They gave us a new point of view on the city and showed us how they lived their lives on the streets.
Written by Dakota and Sammy
Students visited the world-renowned “Camp Nou” today in Barcelona which means “Our Field” in Cátalan; it is the home of the greatest equipo de fútbol that God has ever created: FC Barcelona. After the tour, they enjoyed premium Spanish gelato for the 100th–and best–time during the trip. Students boarded the over-airconditioned bus for the chilly four hour ride back to the cottage in Valencia run by Spanish elves.
When we got back to the hostel, we had our silent leadership conversation and were pleasantly surprised by a flamenco performance which we all greatly enjoyed. After dinner, we performed a positive exercise where we heard prompts and blindly tapped people we thought fit with those qualities. We then did appreciations and had a teary pilgrimage to get gelato. After a few of us fell in a fountain, we ventured back to the home base and called it a night to end an amazing trip.
Leaders of the Day