There’s Something About Valladolid! Two Fulbright Winners and a Peace Corps Volunteer.

In between 2015 to 2017, Elizabethtown College sent three students to study abroad in Valladolid, Spain. Two of these students, Nelli Orzoco ’17 and Melissa Germano ’19 were both awarded Fulbright scholarships to teach English in Spain after graduation. The third student, Jaime Ramos ’18 joined the Peace Corps as a youth development coordinator in Peru. So what is it about Valladolid that inspires and prepares these students for such prestigious opportunities?

Nelli Orzoco ’17 – Two-Time Fulbright Recipient

Nelli always knew she wanted to be a Spanish teacher. While at E-town, she studied Spanish Education PK-12. In Valladolid, she taught English at an elementary school and gave lessons at an immigration center. To keep up her teaching, she began leading Elizabethtown College’s Spanish program for children when she returned to the US. Nelli had felt so at home in Spain that she could not wait to return. She began seeking out opportunities to return to Spain and felt Fulbright was the right choice for her.

For the first year of her Fulbright Scholarship, Nelli taught Spanish and English to community members near La Rioja, Spain where there’s a large concentration of Pakistani and South American immigrants. Then her Fulbright Scholarship was renewed for a second year in the Canary Islands. She taught four year old children through fifth grade students at a primary school in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, a port city on the island of Tenerife.

This summer, she’s serving as a au pair in Munich, Germany for a month, while learning the German language and culture. Then she’ll spend two months in Zamora, a town in Castilla y Leon – the same region as Valladolid, where she’ll serve as an au pair for a Spanish family. Then in September, she’ll start a position as an English teacher in Madrid! Long-term she hopes to earn her Master’s in International Education and pursue her career as a study abroad advisor, international student director, or work abroad on-site as a resident director.

Melissa Germano ’19 – Fulbright Recipient

Recent graduate, Melissa Germano ’19  also majored in Spanish Education PK-12. After returning from her study abroad experience, Melissa shared some of her pictures with the E-town’s Study Abroad Office. The one picture included her and a group of primary school children. “This picture has the most significance for me. In Valladolid, I taught English in a local elementary school – I taught two classes and also tutored three separate families. As an education major, knowing that I made these kids happy and helped them learn a foreign language is an experience that still sticks with me today,” Melissa wrote as a caption for the photograph.

Melissa was recently accepted to the 2019-20 Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Program, where she’ll teach English to elementary students in Spain for nine months. Melissa is excited to be returning to the classroom setting in which she feels most comfortable.

Jaime Ramos ’18 – Peace Corps Youth Developer

While at E-town, Jaime majored in communications and minored in Spanish. He was involved on campus as a Kinesis (student leader) for the first-generation college student program – Momentum, an Admissions tour guide, and an Emotion dancer. As a student, Jaime ventured abroad for the first time when he studied abroad for a semester in Valladolid. In a BCA Study Abroad blog about being a first-generation college student, he talks about how he almost withdrew his study abroad application. Instead he decided to preserve and go abroad.  While abroad, he traveled throughout Spain and Europe, including trips to Belgium, Budapest, Czech Republic, England, Morocco, and a number of other European countries. He says his favorite activity in Spain was taking an authentic Flamenco dance class with locals.

After returning from his semester abroad, Jaime aspired to work in a Spanish-speaking country, where he would be able to help youth make a positive difference in their lives. After consideration, Jaime chose the Peace Corps to immerse himself into the Spanish culture for two years. He was placed as a youth development facilitator in Peru.

In his BCA blog, Jaime says “Through my time studying abroad, I learned the importance of traveling the world. I spent a lot of time focusing on myself and the person I want to grow up to become. My experience abroad allowed me to reflect on everything I have undergone in life, and how I can apply those life experiences to the real world… I became a strong, independent, culturally educated individual that has the opportunity to make a difference in the world as a Peace Corps Volunteer.”

Overall, Valladolid gives students the opportunity to not only improve their Spanish, but also find their passion and fall in love with Spain. Universitas Castellae’s small classroom sizes allow the students to have an interactive education and form close relationship with their professors. These relationships often lead to customized opportunities for the students within the city, such as student teaching, tutoring, volunteering and/or cultural activities. Students can also join Intercambio, a language practice program. This program places students with a local, so they can practice their Spanish and their partner can practice their English. These relationships usually blossom into close relationship.

There must be something about Valladolid!

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