Spain Global May Program


Sitting by the beach after class in Santander, Spain.

The Spain Global May program increased my knowledge of Spanish culture as well as strengthened my understanding of my Spanish heritage. Through the program, I learned how Spain’s location plays a key role in creating this multicultural country. Additionally, we had the opportunity to discuss and learn about immigration in Spain in comparison to immigration in the United States. The program helped me grow on a professional and personal level by pushing me to leave my comfort zone and try new things like zip line across the Tagus River in Toledo, after a day of exploring and learning about the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish remains in the city. I am forever grateful for STEP, OSU, and my parents for supporting me throughout this journey.


Ziplining with the girls across the Tagus River.

I cannot believe how much I learned about myself within those two months abroad. Without a doubt, the most important thing my host country taught me was how to accept and appreciate everyone’s individuality. The Iberian Peninsula has become a crossroad for migration. Throughout the years, numbers of immigrants have stopped and settled in Spain even though their intended final destination was elsewhere. From an early start, the idea and importance of living in a “melting pot” is emphasized inside and outside the classroom. This “melting pot” phrase is different than multiculturalism; what some might refer to as a “salad bowl.” In a melting pot, people from different racial and ethnic groups assimilate into one larger culture. While in a multiculturalist environment, people from all different backgrounds learn to live and interact with one another. In Madrid, people understand when they step outside their front door they will be accepted, appreciated, and respected by their peers despite their differences.


Admiring the Roman remains in Segovia, Spain.

In the United States, there is still this idea of the American Exceptionlism and the American Creed. Growing up with English as my second language in the United States was quite challenging. My accent was always present giving away that I was different. On top of that it almost seemed frowned upon on to say I was Salvadorian-American. It continues to be difficult to feel proud of both cultures and sometimes it feels like I have to choose one or the other. However, this class made me realized how things in the United States are changing into a multiculturalism perspective. Today, people are encouraged to explore different cultural traditions as well as to promote their own. Students who speak more than one language are now called Dual Language Learners instead of degrading terms that have been utilized in the past. Schools all over the country celebrate Hispanic and Asian American/Pacific Islander heritage week. Schools have even adopted a new curriculum that provides exposure to other languages, customs, and traditions. The Spain Global May program helped me understand that being different is a good thing, not a bad thing. It has given me the fuel to use my voice to advocate for those who do not have one.

This program inspired me to spend the next couple months volunteering near home at safe havens for immigrants and advocating for immigration reform. The United States and Spain are currently facing similar immigration waves and challenges. Throughout this course, we learn about the irony of the American dream and see how it relates to those who migrate to Spain. The road to citizenship is not quick or easy and it comes with many struggles. Fortunately, there are centers around Spain dedicated and invested to helping immigrants feel welcomed and create a second home away from home. We learned about organizations such as Karibu and Caritas Spain that provide training of the language and culture, housing, legal advice, psychological assistance, and even employment. After learning about the programs and activities carried out by the organizations and interacting with program coordinators; I was inspired to set out and make a difference. There are many misconceptions about immigrants and immigration that need to be addressed.


Beautiful scenery in Toledo, Spain.

One of the main challenges immigrants face is the language barrier. Assimilation or Latinos in Spain is obviously different because they know the native tongue but they still experience harassment. In one of our events, we learned how educators would belittle children who spoke Spanish with Colombian and Peruvian accents. The USA is working towards creating classrooms that are inclusive and welcoming for bilingual students to eliminate the racism and bullying they experienced in school. As a future educator and the daughter of two immigrants, I am motivated to learn more and be part of this movement.

Spain, when compared to the United States, has done a better job at integrating immigrants. Unlike the USA and France, Spain did not build communities and ghettos for immigrants. Organizations like Karibu and the Austrian center we visited, work really hard to successfully integrate migrants to the Spanish/Madrid culture while helping them keep their customs and traditions alive. Part of successful integration is providing migrants with psychological support. Many of them suffer from depression as they are homesick and feel alone. I have seen the psychological toll immigration has had on my parents; there is always that feeling of being in two places so it’s challenging for migrants to have that sense of belonging in an unknown land. After living and studying in Spain, I am determined to use what I have learned to help alter the way immigrants integrate into American Culture.

Immigration is a difficult subject to understand. I have been surrounded by it my entire life and everyday I continue to learn more and more about it. Centro Austriano in Madrid among Karibu and Caritas Spain serve as safe havens for immigrants. Unfortunately, many Spaniards do not appreciate the organizations. They receive a lot of backlash for helping foreigners and not the Spanish people, which is very similar to the United States where many argue that the government should help our veterans and those homeless instead of immigrants. I want to engage people in this discussion and as one of our guest speakers suggested, work towards changing people’s heart and then what’s in their mind. This program has given me the courage to share my parents’ story and teach locals in the United States that foreigners are not criminals, they do not steal jobs, and they do not remove culture.


Front row seats for the Atlético Madrid vs. Celta Vigo soccer match at the Vincente Calderón Stadium in Madrid, Spain.

I am a third year student at The Ohio State University majoring in Special Education. I am specializing in Early Childhood Intervention with minors in Dance and Spanish. My experience as a first-generation, out-of-state woman of color has inspired me to dedicate my career to working towards education reform and promoting diversity and inclusion in the classrooms. Studying abroad has made me a better educator by increasing my communication in Spanish and cultural awareness. One of my professional goals includes teaching abroad in Latin America and Africa alongside children with limited resources. The opportunity to study abroad has not only helped me fulfill my childhood dream of traveling and exploring Europe; but it has also reassured my aspiration to teach in a foreign country after graduation.


This picture was taken during our scavenger hunt in Bilbao, Spain.

A Month in Madrid


  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

My STEP signature project was participating in OSU’s Global May Madrid program. We went to many different areas of Spain and learned about the history of Spain, focusing on the topic of immigration.

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

Before I went to Spain I really had a narrow view of how immigration in the world works. I’ve grown up in a pretty conservative environment where I’ve heard how immigration seems to have a negative impact upon our world. The positives and negatives of immigration were presented in many different examples throughout my studies in Spain. Now my viewpoint on this topic of controversy is mostly positive thanks to the explorations of Spain’s diverse neighborhoods.

I also thought coming into this experience that it would be easy to make a lot of friends. But that was one part of the trip I struggled the most with. I never felt like I truly found anyone that had similar interests. This definitely inhibited me for a portion of the project until I realized that it did not matter if I came out of this experience with five new best friends. It is far more important to be able to internalize and process personal emotions in order to come out a changed person afterwards.

  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

Learning in Spain took place in and out of the classroom setting, and it was mostly the out of classroom experiences that impacted me the most. Immigration was never really a topic of much interest to me before my travels. The group visit to the neighborhood of Lavapiés was a moment that led to the shift in my standing on immigration. This neighborhood was full of every ethnicity possible. The street would have an African market, followed by an Indian restaurant that would be next to a Chinese goods store. The diversity in the neighborhood was incredible. There were some points of conflict in between these groups, but there’s an overwhelming commonality between them in that they all want to make a better life for their families. Until this visit I had never seen the intermesh of cultures seem to work so seamlessly. It was definitely very cool to see and proves that the intermesh of culture due to immigration can be very successful.

The topic of family was something that was touched on pretty heavily while talking about immigration as well. The immigrants to Madrid were all very willing to do anything to make money to contribute not only to their family in Madrid if they had any, but as well as the family back in places like Latin America. People would attempt to wash cars in heavy traffic areas to make some change, as well as sell indigenous crafts on the side of the road. This may not seem worthwhile and profitable to most, but it really gave me a better understanding of why all these people travel to Madrid in order to secure a better lifestyle.

The moment on this trip where I realized that self-internalization was vital came fairly early into the trip. The group was taking a weekend trip to Toledo. The getaway from the heavily trafficked and lively city to this small city on top of a hill was a very unique change. It also didn’t hurt that this little city provided the most magnificent views over Spain. Our dorm offered a great layout of the overall city and it was just one house piled onto the next. Looking upon this city and thinking of all the people that contributed to this beauty and how it made me feel at peace was definitely a highlight to the trip. I could’ve locked my eyes on that view for eternity.


  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?  Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.

While studying abroad was not directly related to my major, I still feel as though I learned a lot about myself personally. Having a changed view on how immigration impacts society has already changed how I approach many daily situations. I spent the rest of my summer working in an area of low-income families in similar situations, so it was way easier for me to empathize with their situations. Going to Spain and having time to reflect on the beauty of the world was very special. I now find myself more deliberately looking at the world finding joy and beauty out of the small things. Being immersed into the Spanish culture for a month was a pleasure, and it has definitely made me think closely about trying to figure out more ways to travel in the near future.

I also kept up with a blog while I was abroad:



Here I am in Toledo, Spain