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Massey graduate Candice Coles couldn’t get enough of Spain during a six-month stint teaching English, so she’s going back for more.
The 22-year old graduated from Massey’s Albany campus with a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in social anthropology and Spanish.
Miss Coles received a scholarship from the Spanish Embassy in Wellington to work as a language assistant in a bi-lingual primary school.
She left New Zealand in January for six months in Andalucia and lived in a tiny village called La Puerta de Segura, where locals welcomed her warmly. At the local school she worked alongside a teacher and encouraged English conservation and language learning across all subjects.
It was a role she enjoyed. “I never woke up not wanting to go to school in my town, without fail the children would cheerfully receive me, they were incredibly charming,” she says.
While she helped children with English, she also became more confident in Spanish as her language skills improved. She also developed a deep appreciation for the “fun and fascinating cultures” of the Andalucian regions, and says learning the traditional regional dance called Sevillanas was a highlight.
“I have taken away fantastic memories of people and of experiences,” Miss Coles says. “My time in Spain has certainly opened my mind to an amazing culture and history of cuisine, and to different issues in the world involving food and society.
“I couldn’t get enough of Spain in my six months this year so I am going back for more, and am so excited to be accepted as a language assistant to work in a village in Almeria from this October to the end of May.”
Senior lecturer in Spanish Leonel Alvarado says the scholarships provide a great opportunity for students and graduates to live and work in Spain and immerse themselves in the culture. This year three Massey alumni are taking part and there have already been expressions of interest from others who intend to apply next year.
Embassy of Spain education adviser Pablo Mateu Garcia says for the 2013-14 academic year 50 scholarships will be offered to New Zealanders. Since Spain started the programme in 1936, 5000 language assistants from 20 countries have taken part and every year and more than half ask to continue for a second year. “The reason is always the same: they just love the programme,” he says.
Miss Coles says she eventually plans to complete a master’s in anthropology at Massey, focusing on Spanish or Latin American language and culture.