Miguel de Cervantes, author of the 17th-century Spanish novel “Don Quixote,” wrote of Salamanca, Spain, that it “enchants the will because once you have experienced its placid character, you have to go back.”
Hundreds of Southern students have experienced the “placid character” of Salamanca over the past quarter century, thanks to the university’s longest consecutively running international study program — the International Field Study in Spain — led by Carlos Arboleda, professor of Spanish in the World Languages and Literatures Department. And as one of those students, Rachel de la Torre, has said, “I definitely need to go back soon!”
To recognize the 25th anniversary of this program and the work of Arboleda as its organizer, the university will hold a gala celebration on April 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the Adanti Student Center Ballroom. Alumni, faculty, staff, and current students are welcome to attend the event, whose proceeds will benefit a scholarship fund for future study abroad students in Spain. The gala will include dinner and entertainment — flamenco dancing, live music, speakers, and a DJ — and Arboleda will have available for purchase copies of a book he has compiled about the Salamanca program; proceeds from the book sale will also benefit the scholarship fund. Tickets to the gala are $60 general admission and $20 for current Southern students and may be purchased here.
Celebrations also took place in Salamanca last summer, including events hosted by the City of Salamanca and universities with which the program has been affiliated over the years. One such event was a reception in the City Hall of Salamanca hosted by representatives of the city and the Colegio de España (pictured below). Now, Southern will host the campus celebration to highlight and recognize the Study Abroad Program in Spain and the SCSU study abroad faculty and staff for their contribution to the program’s success.
Arboleda says, “As Director of the SCSU Program in Spain since 1990, I continue to be honored to work with a system that has such a highly developed commitment to internationalization. Southern Connecticut State University recognizes the significance of international education for the academic strength of its programs and the quality of the education it provides to its students.”
Upon being hired as a full-time professor at Southern in 1988, Arboleda accepted the university’s invitation to develop the program in Spain. Since then, he has successfully run the program in Salamanca, known as the Golden City of Spain. Since 1990, the SCSU program has worked with the University of Salamanca (1990– 1994) and later with the prestigious Colegio de España.
Over the past 25 years, the Salamanca program has provided professional development, community engagement, and intercultural travel experiences for students from Southern and other Connecticut higher education institutions. About 25 students attend the program each year. Many of the graduates of the SCSU–Colegio de España program have pursued careers in the field of teaching Spanish as a second language, international education, multi-national organizations, and in a variety of fields where the Spanish language is critically needed.
A key part of Southern’s mission is “preparing our local students for global lives,” and each year, a significant number of Southern students study abroad. The university recently joined 240 institutions nationwide in the Institute of International Education’s Generation Study Abroad initiative to double the number of American students who study abroad by the end of the decade. President Mary Papazian says, “Professor Arboleda saw long ago the need for students to have such experiences and has said that total immersion in another culture helps the individual not only to learn about that culture but also gain insight into him or herself. Dr. Arboleda’s vision and his understanding of the importance of study abroad have set a foundation for this university to build upon.”
Erin Heidkamp, director of the Office of International Education, agrees, noting Arboleda’s “steadfast commitment to international education, and to our students.” Heidkamp credits Arboleda’s leadership as playing a critical role in the growth of global education initiatives at Southern.
Steven Breese, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, who was present at the anniversary celebration in Salamanca last summer, says that the students who attend the program there are “forever changed by the great city and culture that is Salamanca.” Indeed, for nearly eight centuries, Salamanca has been home to the first Spanish language university, and it has been a World Heritage Site for more than 25 years and was named the European Capital of Culture in 2002. Salamanca is also recognized as an international leader in Spanish language education.