Former students and faculty of the Sevilla campus celebrated over two decades of Red Raiders in Europe.
A city full of life, possibilities and tapas. The birthplace of flamenco, full of breath-taking architecture and culture. This is Sevilla, Spain.
“It's one of the most beautiful cities in the world.” said Texas Tech University Study Abroad alumnus Nick Coy, who had no reservations when asked about his first impressions of Sevilla.
Coy, a Lubbock native and Lubbock Cooper graduate received dual degrees in journalism and Spanish in 2006 from Texas Tech and was among the first five classes to study at Texas Tech University Center in Sevilla, Spain in 2005.
“Like many, I heard about it through word-of-mouth,” Coy said. “I had a family friend studying there, and hearing what he was doing made me want to go speak with the Study Abroad office to learn more.
This fall, Coy and a multitude of alumni, former and current faculty of the Center in Sevilla celebrated 20 years since opening the campus. The celebration was delayed until 2022 due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“The reunion was a wonderful occasion for alumni from different cohorts to reconnect and share the personal and professional impact of their study abroad experiences in their lives,” said Elizabeth Trejos-Castillo, vice provost for International Affairs who also attended the reunion.
Sevilla, Spain is located on the Guadalquivir River in the southwestern portion of the Iberian Peninsula in what is called the Community of Andalusia. It's the capital of the province and the fourth-largest city in Spain.
The beauty, culture and experience of the province has been alluring to travelers since its founding more than 2,200 years ago.
In November 2000, former Texas Tech President Donald Haragan and Horn Professor of History Allan Kuethe had a vision - a campus in Sevilla, Spain. Haragan would waste little time putting his and Kuethe's vision into motion and appointed G. Douglas Inglis as the director of Center in Sevilla. Inglis would oversee the first cohort in January 2001 at the Universidad Pablo de Olavide.
In 2005, The Center grew to the point of needing to be relocated to downtown Sevilla, where it remains to this day. The campus has grown from under 100 students to over 400 per year studying Spanish, architecture, engineering, pre-health, law, sociology, agribusiness and communications.
“The Center in Sevilla offers students and faculty well-equipped learning spaces to support interactive learning along with the opportunity to easily explore the city and main attractions within walking distance,” said Trejos-Castillo.
Interestingly enough 2005, happened to be the year Coy made the decision to study abroad.
“Up until my trip to Sevilla, my whole life had been spent in Lubbock. Because of that, I knew I needed the experience,” said Coy. “I had also recently changed my minor to Spanish, and the Center in Sevilla offered a semester's worth of upper-level classes. It just made sense for me to go.”
Coy's memory of the experience in Sevilla was a life-changing one – recalling every little element from 17 years ago from the culture to the architecture.
“The buildings have so much history and character,” Coy said. “Think Gothic, Moorish, Roman. The streets in the center are incredibly small and you'll be in awe when seeing cars squeezing by. But it also has a slower pace of life which was a great reminder to savor the moment.”
One of the high points of the nearly week-long event-filled celebration for students and faculty alike was the chance to reconnect with the Sevilla experience which also featured the attendance of some of the original founders of the Center in Sevilla, Kuethe and Inglis.
“It was also a great time to honor the pioneers, founders and special contributors to the center throughout these years,” said Trejos-Castillo.
Faculty members and alumni had their own specific memories they reflected on during the reunion. For Coy, it reminded him about why he pursued a career leading corporate employee engagement in diversity, equality, inclusion and belonging initiatives.
“The common theme was how transformative and life-changing it was,” said Coy. “I think we could all agree that it made us better people because it was a vivid reminder that we are members of a global community – thereby enhancing our ability to empathize, understand, and be curious. My favorite part had to be connecting and reminiscing with everyone who attended and seeing and hearing how the current students are experiencing Sevilla.”
Trejos-Castillo echoed many of the same sentiments Coy had about his time in Sevilla.
“It's even more meaningful when we reflect on the transformative experience and memories that have been built and all the lives that have been touched over two decades across students, faculty, staff and host families,” Trejos-Castillo said.
Host families are a huge part of the study abroad experience, a point which Coy can certainly speak to. While he was unable to see his host family during the reunion, he fondly remembered the original experience and how they helped him assimilate into the Spanish culture.
“My host family experience was incredible – immersion at its finest,” Coy said. “I stayed with a family that lived a 20-minute walk from the Center. It was so fun learning how to navigate the bus system – all in Spanish. My host mother Rocio was very warm and welcoming. She made really good food, and I ate lunch and dinner with the family almost every day. My Spanish improved during my time because of the host family experience.”
There's an old saying that food builds community. Sitting around a table and breaking bread with people from different countries with different cultures lends itself to so many possibilities. So, it should come as no surprise many of the host families which have participated over the last two decades with Texas Tech's Study Abroad students and faculty would want to share some of those recipes for building a community.
To that end, the Center in Sevilla, in conjunction with Texas Tech's International Affairs Office, released a cookbook of traditional Spanish recipes from some of the host families. While not everyone has the opportunity for international travel to Sevilla, it is possible to experience some community at the dinner table just as students, faculty and host families have done for over 20 years.
The Study Abroad program at Texas Tech has hit some significant milestones this year, celebrating the first graduating class in Costa Rica and over 20 years for the Center in Sevilla. Trejos-Castillo is encouraged by the success of the Study Abroad program and the opportunities still to come.
“The successful operations of the Center in Sevilla and the learning opportunities in Costa Rica directly inform best practices and strategies to continue to expand study abroad programs in other international locations,” she said. “Both programs play a central role in fulfilling the Texas Tech mission to develop global citizens and foster cultural understanding and knowledge exchanges.”
Applications are now being accepted for summer and fall 2023 for Architecture in Sevilla, Engineering in Sevilla, Spanish and Pre-Health in Sevilla and Summer programs in Sevilla. Apply now to join these trail blazers and visionaries as part of the Sevilla family.