Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hasta Luego

After a long day of traveling, we finally arrived in Greencastle. I can't believe that it has already been a whole month since the program started! Our time in Spain flew by because we had so much fun. We got to do so many amazing things like walk the camino and see the running of the bulls.
As you all know, this program is called servicio en las Americas. Service has played a large part on this trip. Throughout the whole program, we have had to think about service from many different perspectives. One day, we talked about who was actually doing service in Nieva. While the service work we did on the house and the church was important, it did not have as big of an impact as the new relationships we gained while in Nieva. In this way, Nieva might have done the greatest service of all by opening up their pueblo to us and allowing us to join their community. 

I can remember all the way back to the first day of the program when we all had to think of a goal we had such as making friends or improving our Spanish skills. This program provided the best possible opportunity for us to far exceed in meeting our goals.  This is really a once on a lifetime experience. I'm sad that its almost over, but I will always cherish the memories I have from this experience and look forward to returning to DePauw for the school year.  

- Rachel Lahr

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Alcázar de Segovia 

View of the Cathedral 

       Roman Aqueduct 

Let me start off by sayingour last day in España could not have been more amazing. Although me and the 8 other girls living with me had to say goodbye to one of our mommas this morning (very sad moment I might add) we all had a great day in Segovia. We started off by visiting some cathedrals in the morning followed by this beautiful castle where we climbed about 250 steps to get a better view of the city. After that we had free time where we shopped A LOT and walked around the city. It was such a nice experience communicating with all the people and getting a chance to buy something we can bring home as a souvenir that'll remind us of this trip. After that we visited another cathedral as well as the aquadox.. I cannot explain how breathtakingly beautiful it is, just wait until you see the pictures! Later we had dinner together and now we're beginning our "goodbyes." I admit I was a little homesick therefore I did not think it would be this hard to say goodbye to all the people in Nieva, however I was definitely wrong. Everyone has become almost like family to us and it's hard knowing that we're leaving already. The people have all made us feel so comfortable and I don't know how we can ever thank them enough for that. Today was a day of a lot of reflection and a roller coaster full of emotions, however I think mostly everybody in the group can agree that we loved every single moment of it.

See you soon!


Adiós Nieva

El final día de trabajo
Tate Stewart

Our final day of service in España was one that will form my final impression of all the work we have done here. We worked from 8:30 AM until 7:00 PM, which is almost two days of work when compared to our usual standards. My work in particular was to mix sand and cement by hand and then deliver it wherever it was needed. This job was definitely not my favorite, but this work is what we are here for. 

We have talked a lot about the practicality of service work and whether or not it should even be done because of all of the possible social, economic, and political consequences that it presents. I don't like to look that far into it though. I know that our group has learned so much about Spain's culture, the Spanish language, and ourselves through this service work and I believe that the town of Nieva has at least received something in return. The priest's house is rid of that ugly façade, there are three 500 year old frescoes hanging in the church that represent the history of the town, there are new bushes in the park that were salvaged from the church's walkway, the church has a sizeable start on their new walkway, and we were able to put the paths in the wall for the electrical work in the priest's house. 

If the Spanish people haven't gotten anything else out of this experience, at least they have the work we have done. I believe, however, that as Steve Trulaske intended, we have made very strong connections with the people of Spain. With that said, I feel like the service we have done here has been beneficial for everyone involved and I would love to return to Nieva very soon. 

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We finally finished the service in Nieva, or at least what we could. Monday we worked from 8:30 a.m. until 2:00 p. m. only stopping for our bocadillo, or a small bite to eat, and then we returned to work form 4:00 p. m. until 7:00. Even though it was a really long day everyone wanted to leave behind the best project we could, so our work level was astounding. There was a wide range of jobs that everyone shared in from heavy lifting to sorting rocks of different sizes for use in the sidewalk. I believe that the service we did helped, but the feeling isn't completely mutual. Some members of our group felt bad because the believe the work may not have been wanted by the people of Nieva. This feeling was only perpetuated when some members of the community shared their strongly worded opinions. Some people may not like the change in the church, however, as a whole, the community is very appreciative of the work we did. We weren't able to completely finish the project, but we can leave knowing we left behind a legacy that the people of Nieva will always remember. 

- CJ Weber 

Running with the Bulls

Los Torros 
Jumping around in the local Peña 

The running of the bulls was not how I expected it to be. I thought it would be just like the movies, with everybody standing in the streets, in danger of getting wrecked by a bull; however, the event, in the city of Bercial, was pretty relaxed and I did not feel scared of being hurt once I was there. The Spaniards are very quick to jump in the ring and play with the bulls, at least more than I am. That surprised me even more, but I have noticed that they live their lives to the fullest, at least more than Americans do, in my opinion. I look back at what our teacher, Pablo, said before we arrived to Spain: "Spaniards work to live, while Americans live to work." I never really understood what this meant until I got here. The idea that many people from The United States go to school, then college, then sometimes graduate school, preparing their entire lives to receive a fat paycheck at the end of the road, is a very different culture than in Spain. Here, people like to take their time to smell to roses, if you know what I mean. I feel like the mentality is more about enjoying the moment, now, than getting ready for the future and enjoying it later.

Vidhay Reddy

Camino de Santiago


Spain has been amazing!!! I have had such a great time with my host family, with the town, and with everyone that has taken this trip with me. On Saturday we did a piece of the Camino from Nieva to Coca. We walked almost 24 km by the end of our Camino but it felt so good to accomplish it. I was walking in front of the group for most of the Camino and it was so amazing to have the chance to see everything around me with a nice quiet surrounding. Time and distance flew by while walking because there is just so much to take in that you don't even notice it. By the end of the Camino we all had such a feeling of accomplishment and felt so proud of ourselves for finishing those 24 km. I'm very sad to be leaving Spain but I have enjoyed it so much and am so happy with the experiences that I have had here. 

-Maria Torres

Friday, July 26, 2013

Servicio in Nieva

Hey all! We have been working hard these last few days and it's starting to show. We have begun to construct a new entrance to the church and it has been very rewarding for all of us to see the progress we have made. For most of us the last few days have been some of the hardest physically of this whole trip. We have been mixing concrete, laying bricks, and putting down rocks for the new entrance. It is incredible to see the construction of something out of nothing. Hopefully, we can continue to make progress and continue to connect with the community through service.

-Jake Smith 

I think everyone agrees that this past week has flown by and I can't believe it's already the weekend! This week has consisted of long, hot days of building a new stone pathway, restoring frescos, hammering away at walls, and rebuilding the side of a house. I think the best part of the service has been working together with my friends, the leaders, and the townspeople to complete our tasks. We've also had a ton of fun! We have had Spanish and English discussions with some of the kids, learned how to do some Spanish dancing, taken daily siestas, and gone on some really cool excursions to local wineries and other places. I can't wait for our last couple of days in Spain, but I don't want to leave! My host family and the people in general have been wonderful, and this has definitely been one of the best experiences of my life. 

-Nicole Gibson 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Weekend Excursiónes

Hola from España! 

We've only been in Spain for a single week but we've already experienced so much. We've met so many amazing people, become comfortable with our host families, and have already made incredible headway with our service here in Nieva. Every day brings a new experience to the program, whether it's a new type of food or a trip to a new landmark. 
Yesterday we went to the Castillo de Coca, and while it was not our first excursion it was my favorite so far. I had been looking forward to touring the castles here in Spain since the very first time I saw our itinerary and it did not disappoint. Even from a distance the castle was beautiful. Up close, the view was astounding. We were all so excited as we toured the area surrounding the castle walls on our own and waited for our tour guide. Once inside the castle, we were able to visit many of the rooms on the different levels that contained untouched artifacts from the time when the castle was in use.
 Every part of the castle was astoundingly beautiful and contained so many stories and so much history. 
By the time we left, I had about 50 more pictures and knew more about Spain's history than I thought I would. I'm already excited for our next excursion.
For me, our time in spain has already been life changing. I'm learning to keep an open mind and by doing so, I'm learning so much each day. This trip has brought all of us here closer than I ever thought possible and I can already tell that life long friendships exist throughout the group. This has been the trip of a lifetime and is going by way too fast. Everyone here can vouch for the fact that we are all going to return home with hours of stories and a craving to return to Nieva at the next chance.

Siempre, Courtney Einterz 


Spain continues to amaze me. On Saturday we went on an excursion to the Santo Domingo trails, saw the Santo Domingo church, and underground wineries or "bodegas" and took a cooking class. The church we saw in Santa Domingo was stunning. The alters were huge and you could tell how much love, dedication, as craftsmanship had been put into the detail in every structure. The way they were beautifully preserved also was a huge testament to the Spanish culture and their pride in their country.

The trail was unbelievable. The Spanish countryside is simply breathtaking. Looking out over the different plots of land seeing mountains in the distance is truly wonderful for a Midwestern girl like me. Standing on the rocks and traveling the trails made you stop and wonder about the many Spainards who had used these trails hundreds of years before gives you such a different perspective on the rich cultural history in comparison to life in the States.

The food here is absolutely amazing. As I write this blog we're learning how to make "pisto" and it's pretty cool to watch all of us American kids attempt to cook these traditional Spanish dishes. The bodegas we saw were sweet! Looking at the houses here you would have no idea that there are literally huge wineries under your feet. These people should've been in the Prohibition, they would've made a bundle from these underground gems.

Overall, being in Spain has been such an eye-opening experience. The people are so incredibly proud of their country and so welcoming I almost feel like family. Culture and history are an integral a part of everyday life and I feel so lucky to be immersed in it. Trust me, there's no better feeling than waking up and knowing that it hasn't been a dream, you're still in Spain.

~Mary Grace Morgese

Hola todos!  
This Saturday we all took an adventure to see the ancient petroglyphs and it was so interesting to see these ancient depictions of humans and animals. We passed many large boulders which each had multiple carvings on them. We then followed the path which lead to an ancient casa on the top of a hill which was beautiful. From the top we were able to see everything all the way out to the mountains. Afterwards, we visited an ancient romanesque church and the interior was probably one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. There were massive murals covering the walls and great displays of artwork. After our day in the town, we returned to Nieva to take our well deserved siesta. In the night the townspeople threw a party in the local bar for Julie and I because our birthdays were this past week. Everyone seemed to have an amazing time and all the townspeople were so friendly and fun to dance and talk with. It was a great cultural experience as well because they played both Spanish and American music so we were able to learn popular Spanish dances while we taught them our American dances. It was very funny and that was probably my favorite night on this trip so far. The townspeople and we have really connected and I cannot wait to see where these friendships lead to. 

Genna Chiaro


Yesterday (Sunday) we had another excursion to a beautiful church in a town called Santa Maria la Real de Nieva.  Like the church from Saturday, it was stunning.   There's so much architecture, history, art, and beauty to appreciate. On the floor of the church were various tombs of priests and nuns and various figures who were important in the church. Although I was taught not to step on graves, the feeling of being surrounded by such prominent figures in history of this town was very serene.  

Afterwards we went to a castle in a city called Coca.  It's one of the two only castles built with brick, and it was also gorgeous.  It had a moat surrounding the perimeter of the castle as the first line of defense.  Fun fact: Moats were never really filled with water, because the enemies could just swim up to the castle and that wouldn't be a very good defense strategy. The movies portray them that way because they fill up when it rains a lot.   There was so much to see in the castle, and I wish I could go on and on forever.  But words an pictures just do not do it justice.

I will say this, although I have really enjoyed and loved being in Spain, Saturday during our first excursion was the first time I truly appreciated being here.  And Sunday in the castle I felt the presence of all the people that had been there before me.  The history and the beauty is indescribable.  I love it here, and I can't wait to see what the future holds!!

Makayla Anderson