My name is Kenny Frankel and I participated in CEA Study Abroad to Barcelona in the Spring 2009 semester. In this time I had a rewarding experience doing volunteer work for the Fundació Pere Tarres (Pere Tarres Foundation). This is a non-profit organization that provides education and social opportunities for children from the ages of around 5-12. During my three-month-long participation with this foundation I went a center on the outskirts of the city of Barcelona two days a week for 2-3 hours each time. It only took me about 30 minutes to travel there. I had to be interviewed at first to prove that my Spanish was at least at an intermediate level, but once I did I was hired to take care of “los medianos”, or the middle-aged (8-10 years old) kids. My initial and primary goal was to greatly improve the fluency of my Spanish skills over the course of my stay, although I got a lot more from the experience than just that. Each day I helped the staff (people around my age) pick the kids up from school and play with them in the playground, bring them to computer lessons, and lead them through art sessions. Although it was true challenge at first to form sentences quickly and communicate with the staff and kids, I quickly developed my ability to speak efficiently and effectively. In the process I got to participate in celebrations including “El Carnaval” (a costume party similar to Mardi Gras), “El Día de Sant Jordi” (similar to Valentine’s Day), talk with Spanish peers (the staff) about anything and everything, and play with kids which is something I enjoy doing. These opportunities really gave me more insight into Cataluña’s culture. After returning to the US I realized that this immersion activity made my experience in Spain. Through volunteering in the local community I got to participate in cultural events and greatly improve my Spanish-communicating abilities. I highly recommend working at Fundació Pere Tarres or doing any another immersion activity because it is an authentic and valuable use of time when abroad. Thanks CEA for coordinating this volunteering opportunity. I would encourage all students to take part in this type of opportunity whilst studying in Barcelona. Kenny Frankel, Barcelona, April 24th 2009
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