A number of Bryn Mawr College students applied for and received funding to conduct research projects overseas this summer through the Global Bryn Mawr Student Fellowship. Those students were asked to share their experiences through words and images.
Name: Rem Aibouchireb
Class Year: 2021
Major: English/Education/Middle Eastern Studies
Overseas Study or Project: Ciento Vollando and United Cultures Language School
Location: Villadolid, Spain
Q. What led you to apply for this overseas study or project?
A. Last year, I was given the opportunity to intern in Morocco with an organization named Project Soar which empowers teenage girls in the developing world. In our attempt to educate these girls, we would provide lessons in Arabic, French, and English that were meant to ensure that they would be able to exercise their rights in public spaces. My passion for international human rights and education is what led me to apply for this overseas internship in Spain. I was extremely curious and wanted to integrate myself into different forms of education across the globe. I was hoping to provide safe spaces to ultimately enhance students’ chances for academic success, while also bettering my own capabilities when it comes to working in a classroom setting consisting of English language learners.
Q. What did you do while on your overseas study or project?
A. The United Language Cultures language school is intended to provide an enriching cultural and linguistic experience to various age groups. Ciento Volando was an organization created to combat students from dropping out and the tendency to resort to alcohol and drugs at such a young age. As someone with prior experience in an international classroom setting, I was given a lot of opportunities to carry out my own work in these two internships. I was often given my own classroom to lead and was able to write my own lesson plans. Particularly enriching for me was having so much flexibility in the classroom. I was able to carry out a lot of the strategies that I had learned from previous experiences and the insight I had gained from my education classes into my teaching. I was responsible for planning different events, organizing activities for the future, diversifying curriculum for the various age groups, and hosting the end of the year activities. Ciento Volando organized different charity events to gather money so that the students would be able to travel together and build a sense of community outside of what might’ve been a toxic atmosphere that encourages early dropouts.
Q. What did you learn that surprised you?
A. Being able to recognize your own position is extremely important, especially within the context of education. Working with students with little to no knowledge in the English language can be challenging. It forced me to learn to be patient and to recognize that learning looks different for every student within the classroom. With patience came flexibility, helping me recognize that with various backgrounds come different sets of experiences that might alter the course of a student’s learning. Being able to adjust my own teaching and understanding has helped me to better understand my students and encourage them to further pursue their own learning.
Q. What was your favorite part of this experience?
A. My favorite part of this experience was being able to live with a host family. I seriously couldn’t have asked for a better experience! My host mom, dad, brother, and sister all attended the United Language Cultures school and I was able to work with them both in a classroom setting and through private tutoring at home. After staying with them for two-and-a-half months, I felt as though this experience is what helped me to fully immerse into the Spanish culture. They treated me as their own and I was able to experience Spain fully. I now feel as though there is a home for me to go back to whenever I would like to visit again. I miss them already!
Q. What advice or guidance would you offer future students?
A. I would highly recommend being bold and passionate in all aspects of life. Traveling to a different country alone might sound terrifying, but it is truly one of the best experiences that I’ve had in my life. It forces you to integrate and immerse yourself in a culture and challenges you to interact with different people. Passion looks different for everyone, so don’t be afraid to explore new things!