Published on: March 17, 2024


By Sr. Linda Sariego

During Spring break, twelve students in Janis Chakars’ Global learning course, CDM 226 GL, Globalization and Diversity in the Media, along with Janis Chakars and Sr. Linda Sariego traveled to Madrid and were met by Victor Betancourt. The wind and rain of the first day offered a premonition to the pace of the week’s activities.

Students toured the offices of El Pais, the Spanish international newspaper; were amazed by the plethora of street art in Lavapies, a neighborhood of Madrid; learned from a pioneer of La Movida, the music and art movement which sprang up after Franco died; explored Chueca and Malasaña in their transition as a result of gentrification; became familiar with En Vivo, a Christian organization which employs social media to spread the Gospel message; and met a director of COGAM, an LGBTQ+ non-profit organization which serves in advocacy, information and resources.

We were fascinated by late night dinner times, of tasting new food, shopping for clothes and other items, and of relishing in works of Goya and Velazquez in El Prado, and of Picasso’s immense Guernica in Reina Sofia. Students also engaged in el regateo (bargaining) at El Rastro open air market; navigated the Metro subway with increasing facility; aimed at high goals by exploring vistas from roof-top restaurants and engaging in a language meet at a local disco.

Our location near Plaza del Sol offered the opportunity to witness the zeal of Spanish-style protests. We were amazed by the beauty of the Palace Real/ Royal Palace and of magnificent churches which date back to the 15th and 17th centuries.

The unexpected was a part of virtually every day. We had a surprise encounter with the Queen Mother Sofia who waved to us as she entered her limousine. The soccer world was no less engaging; one student blended with the crowds at the Bernabeu stadium to watch Real Madrid; others assimilated into the local scenes and livened the atmosphere through karaoke. Fashion, food, friendship, flamenco dancing, and our Franciscan Neumann RISES contributed to unforgettable experiences.

Madrid, Sr. Linda eating churros
Sr. Linda Sariego eating churros

Personally, the trip was the realization of my life-long dream to visit the homeland of my paternal relatives. As a professor of Spanish, I can now validate the events and places that I taught about before, and without the (former) standard caveat of “I have never been to Spain, but….” For the CDM class, these learning opportunities supported projects expressing diverse Spanish culture and globalization today and will be shared with the Neumann community.

Beyond all that, the trip to Madrid was a wonderful opportunity to interact with the Madrid scene. With several persons in our group able to speak Spanish, cross-cultural communication was facilitated.

In Neumann Franciscan tradition, we now hold onto the energy and happy memory of being warmly welcomed, though foreigners, in Madrid, and some of the students eagerly await another opportunity to cross cultural boundaries. Neumann students took on Madrid with indelible appreciation.

¡Holaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! A Madrid-style inflection of a common greeting now infused with good memories that will last for a long time.





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