Africana Studies senior and transfer student Amber Brown-Kelly of Newark, NJ (Essex County) shares her experience: This study abroad experience in Valencia, Spain was round two for me. My first round took place in the United Kingdom for six months full of studying and traveling with friends and classmates who mostly spoke English.
Two months full of Valencia’s fresh squeezed zumo de naranja, tea, toast, bocadillos, tortillas, bubble tea, playa de Malvarrosa, palm trees, travel and Spanish translations. I can’t forget about rooms with no air conditioning, my host mom, Italian and Romanian housemates, a great roommate who also attends Rowan, siesta time, coffee breaks and an amazing, diverse internship that forced me to really understand the Spanish language and culture.
I lived in the neighborhood of Ruzafa, which grew into a very artsy area. Full of stores like thrift shops, markets, small apartments, small restaurants, murals, and vibrant colors. It was almost impossible not to find the things you needed there. And boy oh boy was I excited to see a corner store.
I took advantage of Rowan’s partnership with International Studies Abroad (ISA) to spend eight weeks with ILÊWASI, a small non-governmental organization. ILÊWASI, located in Castellón de la Plana, advocates for human rights, interculturality, and youth education. They also support projects through International Cooperation for countries in Latin America and Africa through a human rights based approach.
I had no idea what to expect from this internship, but as an Africana Studies major with two minors in International Studies and Urban Planning, I felt the human rights aspect of ILÊWASI is what I needed to develop on a personal and professional level.
Needless to say, this internship is a model for the kind of career I want to incorporate into my life. A career where I can travel, meet people from different cultural backgrounds, and languages. I want to immerse myself into the community I’m living in, attend cultural and local events, learn new concepts, meet different organizations, research, practice the application of new information and have fun.
On most days after my internship, MariPaz and Irene (the best supervisors ever) would take my group into the neighborhood during siesta time. We tried different food (aioli and octopus), attended the local Paella Festival of Castellon that included Flamenco dancing and music, and witnessed a local version of the ‘running of the bulls.’
At the end of the internship, we held the sixth annual summer course. After meeting different human rights organizations, learning about NGOs, grants, logical framework, and learning about the United Nations sustainable development goals, we prepared and presented our given sustainable development goal. I presented Sustainable Goal #10 on reduced inequalities and created a discussion about the history of race in America and the differences and similarities with Nationalism in Spain. I also listened and tried to comprehend summer course presentations in Spanish, Valencian and Castilian Spanish.
Even though two months is considerably a pretty short time, I learned so much and really felt that ILÊWASI was my family. They were my favorite part of my time in Spain.
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Story by: Amber Brown-Kelly
Alyssa Bauer, junior public relations major