Seven Lee University Spanish majors, along with their professor Dr. Alexander Steffanell, recently returned from a trip to Quetzatenango, Guatemala, after being invited by the Seminario Bíblico Pentecostal Centroamericano (SEBIPCA), a Church of God seminary sponsored by Lee University to train incoming seminarians.
"It was a beneficial and academic experience for Lee students and the seminarians," said Steffanell, associate professor of Spanish at Lee. "Lee's students showed a great deal of commitment and expertise in their research field and were excellent at promoting the Spanish program, our department, and Lee University. They also mingled with the seminarians, who come from a variety of Central American countries."
The students on the Guatemala trip were Timothy Bideshi, Macy Bornman, Morgan Courson, Dawson Davis, Samuel Duarte, Chloe Roos, and Sarah Strickland.
During the trip, the students presented their research topics which ranged from how to write research papers and organize reliable sources, to writing solid and professional paragraphs. Every lecture was presented in Spanish.
"I learned and grew so much culturally and in my proficiency of the Spanish language during this trip," said Timothy Bideshi, a junior Spanish major at Lee. "This was my first time presenting my research essay, 'The Past, the Present, and the Future of the Spanish Language in Trinidad and Tobago,' in Spanish to a non-English speaking audience, and it was quite rewarding to see students comprehend the material. After my presentation, many students approached me asking questions pertinent to my topic. This was one of the most rewarding feelings, seeing the students genuinely interested in what I had to say and that they understood me speaking in my second language."
Steffanell also presented on "Critical Thinking and Research Writing" to the 45 seminary students and the faculty and staff at SEBIPCA.
"This was an excellent cross-cultural exchange that allowed us to expand our world views about others as well as develop empathy and the ability to know other languages through personal interactions," said Donald Garcia, dean of SEBIPCA. "The Lee students were well prepared, informative, and skillful in speaking Spanish. Our SEBIPCA students enjoyed their presentations and learned new elements for academic research."
According to Steffanell, this trip was not only a training event but also a cultural event because the students had an opportunity to display their culture and experience another culture while there.
"One of life's greatest satisfactions is when you can help others achieve their goals, and that is exactly what we did in Guatemala," said Samuel Duarte, a sophomore double major in Spanish and digital media at Lee. "I realized how much Lee has taught me, and the fact that I could share it with others was a valuable experience. I loved Guatemala, and I will go back there for sure."
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