As we head into our fifth week here in Valencia, it seems strange to think about saying goodbye. It feels like just yesterday that we were wandering the unfamiliar streets and experiencing the culture shock of being in Spain. There are still many things that are unfamiliar to me, however I have began to feel truly comfortable here. This vibrant city and its incredibly rich culture will stay in my mind for the rest of my life, and this is one experience I cannot possibly forget. I will miss the train ride through the countryside every morning, and the people of Torrent even more. It seems that just as my relationships with my coworkers at the museum have become strong and I now see them as friends, but now I have to say goodbye and head back to the US. Not currently sure what is the best way to say farewell to these amazing people, but it feels as if a card or a letter won’t be able to convey the gratitude I have for being welcomed so warmly into this new culture. I will have to give them all of my contact information, and keep in touch to tell them about my time at school. One thing is for sure, I am going to prepare a detailed farewell for my coworkers in Spanish since I don’t have the vocabulary to make it up on the spot. I am truly grateful to these people and I want to have prepared exactly the right words to let them know that (they don’t speak any English). As I spoke with my family on the phone last weekend I told them that I was feeling a strong sense of homesickness, and that I missed everything back in the US. However the advice that they had for me was to try to appreciate things during these final two weeks even more, because the second I return home I will begin to miss things here in Valencia. I will take this advice to heart in my final days here, because I may never have this kind of opportunity in my life again to live fully immersed in a culture as rich as Spain’s.
Yesterday at my internship at the museum I had the opportunity to conduct multiple informal interviews with local artists from Valencia. They were holding an art exhibition for these artists, where they are able to celebrate their work together and share some of the culture of the region. The organization Torrent D´Arte collaborates with the Museu Comarcal De L´Horta Sud to provide a platform for these artists to share their work. Although I am not fluent in Spanish, I was still able to ask them lots of questions about their paintings, and where they draw inspiration from. One of the painters Francisco told me that he only paints locations in Torrent because this area is very special to him and it inspires him to paint. I was also able to observe them while they painted, and Francisco showed me how he uses multiple layers of watercolor paints to create texture. All of the artists were very open with me, and had no problem with me taking pictures and asking about their artistic processes. I am learning that the people of Spain are not just friendly, but they love to share their culture with outsiders and welcome us with open arms. These local artists are just one example of the special inside look that I have been allowed into the culture of Spain, and I feel honored to have the chance to talk to these people. They were excited to share their paintings with me, but even more excited to learn that I wanted to interview them and share their passions with a larger audience.
Today at my internship I had a very exciting experience that I would like to share, involving the Museu del H’orta Sud and a local communications agency that works closely with the museum. Just a few doors down from the museum is the Inspeccio de Servicis Departament which is a local government office containing all different kinds of work. Within that office is their communications team, who helps the museum with gathering and spreading information as well as contacting representatives of different regions across the country. One of the many ways the museum advertises itself is through social media, and they have a Facebook page where they share pictures, videos and events to connect with young people via the internet. Because of my interest in writing and journalism, Clara (museum employee who I have been working with) decided to introduce me to a few people within this office. Among those people was a woman named Sofia who is a local journalist and friend of Clara. She was intrigued that I am a student of journalism and told me that she wants to write a small piece about me and our study abroad program, and how I am working with the museum. Although I did not understand everything that she said to me in Spanish, I am excited that I am being given an opportunity to represent our school and our program here in Valencia. In a few days I will send her an email with some information about me, and why I chose to travel to Valencia to work in this museum. Seeing journalism in action across the world is very exciting to me, and I am so glad that Sofia reached out to me to share our program with the locals in Torrent.