Meeting other people with different customs and sharing with them seven days for 12 hours a day in Pueblo Español has been an authentic experience that I would not mind repeating.
By Carmen Martínez
When my daughter told me about this wonderful (I can tell you) project, I did not hesitate to go. I like new things and in a way any kind of adventure.
It’s important to mention that those who come as, let’s call it “teachers”, we take part in the program as volunteers. The Program Manager of Diverbo gathered us in their offices the previous day in order for us to meet and give us some guidelines that would help us during the program. Attendees of the meeting: 14 volunteers and 3 fantastic professionals representing Diverbo: María de Anta (Program Manager); Sabela (On-site Program Director) and Marta (One-site Master of Ceremonies).
Once the formalities were done, we were invited to a beer in a nearby bar, where we were able to meet some of the students that were participating in the program. Id’ like to highlight the grace with which Andrew danced sevillanas accompanied by Paz, one of the youngest and fun volunteers. The following day, volunteers and students accompanied by Marta in her role as Master of Ceremonies and Sabela as the Program Director.
Pueblo Español. Foto: Carmen Martínez
We went by coach from the Diverbo offices on Orense Street to La Alberca, a small town in the province of Salamanca. The ride was very enjoyable and fun. From the time you get on the coach, the student’s learning process begins, as each of the volunteers sit down with one of them to start speaking Spanish. Even in the middle of the trip we changed partners to have more contact with each other. We arrived at La Alberca, specifically the Hotel Doña Teresa where we stayed and where the program took place.
Once everyone settled in their rooms, we all gathered in the Meeting Room. I have to say that during the eight days the food was great, in large quantities and the service very good. At the tables each of four diners, we sat two volunteers and two students, changing at each meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner), this way as the days passed we got to know each other and shared very different conversations.
After lunch, we had until 17:00 hours to rest for a while. You can imagine that I used to do something that is very “typical Spanish”, that is, take a good siesta! At five in the afternoon we would meet again in the Meeting Room where they would inform us about the activities to be done during the afternoon (which I will tell later) until dinner time. After that, we were free to go have a casual drink at the bar or go anywhere else in this quaint little old town. This first afternoon was used for presentations in the Meeting Room. In pairs: student and volunteer would ask 3 questions to get to know each other and then introduce ourselves to the rest of the group. It was very nice and enjoyable. After completing the presentations we had introduced the 30 people: 14 students, 14 volunteers and 2 staff members.
Daily activities in Pueblo Español
Saturday, the second day, after the breakfast buffet, each of the volunteers paired up with a student for an hour to talk. In the morning, we changed partners two or three times. I was assigned two American men. We used the time (apart from talking) to walk. I walked the town with one and the outskirts with the other. In the mornings, we also had conferences, telephone conversations and discussions with four people, two students and two volunteers on several topics previously written. The evenings were totally different. There were two theater “plays”, which were very funny.
On the third and last afternoon, there was a sketch where we played out a parody out of the situations we had lived in the program for the past seven days. We couldn’t stop laughing. We enjoyed fun games such as the game of “the chair”, “questions and answers” similar to Trivial, several groups representing a movie (charades). Another group had to do a story about the seven days in “Pueblo Español” using idioms and phrases the students had learned. Another groups had to write and sing a song. All these activities are naturally focused to reinforce students’ vocabulary.
Excursions in Pueblo Español
The following days there were some varations.
- On Sunday we were taken to visit the museum.
- On Monday we ate at a restaurant in the town square. We enjoyed ham and wine in a tavern before. That afternoon Al, one of the students, played the guitar and sang Mexican songs.
- On Tuesday morning, we went Ciudad Rodrigo (a city that in its time had much importance for the kingdom of Castile).
- On Wednesday afternoon there was a very nice game: we had to go in search of some specific places of the town – a sort of hidden treasure. At night we enjoyed “queimada” a typical drink from Galicia and supposedly inherited from the Celts. It was good fun! Sabela, who plays the violin delighted us with several pieces of Irish music, namely Celtic music.
- On Thursday our dear companion Pilar celebrated with us her birthday, later we had dinner in a the Parador.
- On the final night, we had a party at the local disco. We all danced and laughed.
Spanish town in my memory
The fourteen students, in this case composed of seven women and seven men from various parts of the world, was a very varied: British, Americans, Canadians, an Australian and a Norwegian. I will remember all of them fondly and they will be present in my thoughts: the perfectionist Al, the young Allison, the friendly and pleasant Arthur, the lovely Diana, the peculiar Jacquie, the kind Janet, the beautiful Jennifer, the sweet Joanne, the charismatic Katie, the handsome Mauritz, the nice Peter, Robert the gentleman, the cheerful Rory and the intellectual Vincent. Each of them have a life-time friend in Spain.
I will also remember my fellow volunteers: Andrés, who was with us a short time, Marian the cheerful Madrilean who was living in Seville, Raquel another Madridleño with a sweet face and dreamy eyes, Paz the nice young woman who danced Sevillanas and demonstrated her artistic skills on several occasions, Paco (Francisco) one of the nicest people of Malaga who I have met; Jesus, from Madrid, a discrete and very correct young man with his artistic side, José Luís de Linares-Jaén, a natural-born dancer, sensitive and pleasant, Pilar from Aragón with a “heart of gold”, Ana another great woman with a close humanity, Miguel with mans’ physique but a child’s soul, Luís, our friend from Colombia already long established in Spain, Magnolia, apart from having a beautiful name has a great personality and Angela fun and dynamic that sometimes seemed a teenager. To all of them I wish the best in this life and if they ever need me one day they will find me. Finally, as much as I can say in favor of the two coordinators of this program I will always stay short. Marta, the Master of Ceremonies, not only does her work with joy and cordiality, but also her humanity for the weakest makes her special. Sabela who in the past I had only met briefly, seemed to me a woman with very interesting charisma. Now knowing her a little more, I think she’s a exceptional person. Thank you Diverbo for making these programs so intense. They go beyond language learning, as they give you the opportunity to develop your own set of personal skills and to get to know and live with other people. Keep it up the hard work!!
All my love, Carmen Martínez.