Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Madrid - Part 1

After a lengthy busride from the León, there was no better way to get out and ¨see something¨ than by heading to Madrid´s own Prado museum. Boasting one of the best art collections with pieces from around the world, the Prado was our first stop on our visit to Spain´s capital. In the Prado, students were able to step back in time and see the work of several famed Spanish artists (many of whom they learned about in class) as well as the famed Mona Lisa. 

Saying goodbye...

On Friday, July 26th, we had to say ¨goodbye¨ to our host city and families. Although it is never easy, many students tried to put their departure from León into perspective as it meant that HOME would only be a few days away. It also meant that we would be setting out on our last great adventure, destination MADRID.

La función de despedida - Part 2

Here is the girls´ quartet...

And Emmi´s solo...

And the play Don Sabino Curatraumas...
      And finally, our IUHPFL students taking a moment to dar las gracias to their Spanish families...

And we would like to say ¨thank you" as well, as we could not be more proud of our students or the time and the effort they have put in to prepare for the evening´s festivities.

La función de despedida

Last week, we brought our time in León officially to a close with our annual función de despedida, which featured songs, plays and our own DeForest as master of ceremonies.

The festivities began with a song performed by our choir (led by instructor Mark Hoff) and then a solo by Kat Jones.

After, Tamara´s theater group presented the play Se vende una mula. 

To close the first act, Emmi and Sam Allen performed a humourous duet, much to the amusement of classmates and host families alike.

The second part of evening was opened with a quartet, performed by Amanda, Deforest, Alyssa and Moni.

Emmi followed up with a solo.

Next was the theater group Bea and I directed, presenting the play Don Sabino Curatraumas. The final song was performed by the whole choir.

We closed the evening with a PowerPoint showcasing some of the highlights from our weeks here and each student taking a moment to personally thank their families. By the time the last student spoke and each libro de recuerdos and evey flower had been passed out, there were not too many dry eyes.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Acting, dancing and singing...

As we prepare for tomorrow's función de despedida, here´s a glimpse of what we will be presenting. There will be two short plays and 6 songs (2 by the choir, 2 solos, 1 quartet and 1 duet) performed by the students.

A hands-on lesson in culture @ the Academia...

For this afternoon's optional activity, culture instructor Beatriz invited Virtudes (host mom to Thomas and Davidson) and Blanca (host grandmother to Amanda, Laura, Meghna and Olivia) to give a demonstration of encaje de bolillos (bobbin lace), which they had learned about in class. Not only did the women bring some of their best work to show and explain, they also let the students have a try!

And for our final lunch in Casablanca - pizza!

¿Manitas de cerdo? ¿Lengua? Pigs´ hooves? Tongue? Much to the enjoyment of our students, there were no such offerings on today´s menu as to celebrate our final lunch at Casablanca, the owner prepared pizzas for us. And of course, no lunch would be complete without Coca Cola and ice cream!   

This week in León...

It´s hard to believe that we´ve been gone for 41 days! But as the Program starts to wind down, the instructors and students are as busy as ever! Today (Tuesday) marks the end of our classes, as tomorrow morning we will be rehearsing for our función de despedida, which includes various songs and two short plays that the students have prepared for their host families and friends. The función begins at 7:30 and is one of the highlights of the summer as students get to display all that they have learned. Thursday we will have our "exit" exam and students will enjoy a final afternoon/evening at home with their host families. Friday morning, we will depart early for Madrid, where we will spend the day touring the city and visiting the Prado art museum and the royal palace. On Saturday, we will travel to Toledo, where students will get to experience the history (and heat) of the city known for its metalwork and picturesque landscape, immortalized by the famous painter, El Greco. We will return to Madrid that afternoon so students can enjoy their last moments of Spanish sunshine and shopping.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Getting to Gijón...

And now... the most anticipated excursion of the summer - the beach! A little sunshine, a volleyball, picnic lunches packed by host moms and a whole lot of sunscreen was all this group needed for an afternoon full of fun.

But before we got to the beach...

there was just one more stop we had to make! We took students up to the Naranco mount, so they could see not one, but two, churches that were constructed in the 9th century. The first we visited was San Miguel de Lillo, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.

After, we made our way to the beautiful Santa María del Naranco. As you can see in the pictures, the view was every bit worth the effort it took us to get there!

From here, you can get a glimpse of Oviedo, which is about 3 kilometers away.

Off to Asturias!

Friday´s excursion took us to the northern province of Asturias, where we would visit both Oviedo (home to a number of rather "curious" statues and also an IUHPFL program site) and the coastal city of Gijón. Students were eager to get on the road, as they hoped the good weather we had as we left León would follow us all the way to the beach. Luckily, the rain did hold out until our return, allowing us plenty of time to to enjoy the sun  and warm temperatures.

In Oviedo, we took a walking tour through some of the city´s most important sites and stopped to pose with a few of those "curious" statues. Can anyone identify the famous American actor we spotted?

 As we made our way through the city, we also stopped at the cathedral and at the El Fontán market. Needless to say, some students were quite suprised (or grossed out) by the products they found on display! Here, they were also able to try carbayones, a typical pastry made of almond paste. A few students liked them so much they went back to the bakery to buy another!