Photo by Tony Cece

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Students Practice Spanish During Short-Term Mission Trip

By Rachel Judy

Dr. Brinkman and Panama study abroad participants
visit the Embera Indigeonous Village.
Regent University's Spanish Residential Language Community Program (La Casa de Español) provides a unique opportunity for students to immerse themselves in language and culture by living in a designated section of student housing. The aim of the program is to provide students with cross-cultural experiences that will equip them with the skills to function in a global society.

As an addition to this immersion opportunity, a group of Regent students traveled to Panama in May for a short-term mission trip. This experience gave students the chance to combine their language skills with service in a Spanish-speaking country.

Four undergraduate students—Elizabeth Butler, Samantha Pineiro, Victoria Thompson and Jaquelyn Alvizures—traveled with their resident assistant, Yaitza Monge, a graduate student in the School of Divinity, and the undergraduate faculty director of the Spanish Residential Language Community, Dr. Frieda Brinkmann.

"Overall, the language immersion experience was challenging, I'll admit, but it was wonderful, and I had so much fun speaking and listening to the language of my heritage," said Pineiro. "I have grown in every area of my life because of it."

Samantha Pineiro, Victoria Thompson and
Jaquelyn Alvizures guide children through
a drawing activity.
Photos courtesy of Dr. Frieda Brinkmann.

The group volunteered with the ministries of Templo Zuriel El Refugio Church in the San Miguelito community outside of Panama City. They participated in homestays with church families and were able to experience first-hand what life and living conditions are like for many in Latin America. Since the host families did not speak English, students were also immersed in the language.

"My most positive experience was getting to know my [host] family," Butler said at the end of the trip. "They all really took us in as if we were one of their own, and we created a very strong bond."

"The simple and uncomfortable conditions we lived in were quickly overshadowed by the kindness and love of our host families," added Brinkmann. "The trip was a beneficial cultural, language immersion and learning experience, as well as a time of spiritual growth and opportunity to serve in a poor and neglected area near Panama City."

Working with the church, the students ran an after-school program for street children, beginning with games and crafts to draw them into the church, and ending with a Bible story time. They also participated in the church's ministry of taking meals and offering a message and prayer to the homeless in several areas of Panama City.

The Panama study abroad trip included a city tour.
Learn more about La Casa de Español.

Mindy Hughes, Public Relations

Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888

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