SDSU Liberal Studies sends students to Spain this summer

by Emely Navarro, Staff Writer

The San Diego State liberal studies department is offering a faculty-led study abroad program in Granada, Spain this summer.

This month-long program is intended for liberal studies majors who are seeking to get their teaching credentials for grades K-8. The program, planned by Associate Director of International Engagement Chris Kjonaas, along with the liberal studies department will focus on helping these future educators experience different cultures and develop international perspectives. College of Teacher Education lecturer Jarleen Littrell, associate professor of teacher education Luke Duesbery, and liberal studies advisor Paul Justice will be instructing the courses available for the liberal studies majors in Granada.

Sharon Bendall, the liberal studies director, said since roughly 2011, the liberal studies department has mandated every student in the major to study abroad because educators are extremely influential in the lives of many people; therefore, it is important for them to know and be able to relate with other countries. Additionally, most of the graduates from the department will stay in California, a state with a large international population where they will encounter international students.

“Considering the diversity of the state, it is important to know how it feels to be in a culture that is strange to you so you could be empathetic,” Bendall said.

Planning for this study abroad program took one year and involved various departments.

One of the planning factors was deciding which location to pick. Bendall said it depends on the interest of the students, the resources that the country has and making sure the country offers a good study abroad program provider. The department went to England for a similar program, but they wanted to do something different this summer. Spain fulfilled requirements that the program was seeking and also had good universities in partnership with SDSU.

“I started planning this program early last summer by reaching out to the on-site provider, El Colegio de Virgen de Garcia, and discussing our needs, like time for students to work with elementary students in a local school, (and) classroom space for SDSU faculty to teach their SDSU classes to our group,” Kjonaas said.

About four months prior to departure students can work with study abroad advisers, such as Amanda Chamberlain. Chamberlain works more behind the scenes with students and makes sure they have everything they need in order to be ready for the trip.

“The most exciting thing is working with the students and seeing how excited they are before they depart and then seeing how much their lives have changed once they return,” Chamberlain said.

This study abroad program is different compared to others not because it is a month long faculty-led summer trip, but mainly because the relationship that all three faculty members have with one another makes the program more special.

“Justice, Littrell, and I are friends,” Duesbery said. “We work well together and know how to have fun and adventure.”

Littrell said her experience studying abroad has greatly impacted her as a teacher.

“Students would truly say the same, it truly changed my life,” Littrell said.

There are currently some spots remaining for this trip. Although it is designed for liberal studies majors, other majors can sign up for the program.