Nagina Ahmadi ’20 and Kwame Morris ’19 were both awarded prestigious U.S. Department of State Benjamin Gilman Scholarships to support their study abroad excursions during the Colleges’ Spain program. The students arrived in Seville in mid-September and have been immersing themselves in the local culture and language through coursework, travel and traditional cultural experiences.
“My goal coming to Spain was to learn as much Spanish as possible and fully immerse myself in the culture,” says Morris, a history major and double minor in entrepreneurial studies and Spanish. “This will supplement my time at HWS by not only understanding a second language, but being able to connect with people from different cultures and backgrounds.”
As part of the Seville program, which is led by Associate Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies Fernando Rodriguez-Mansilla, both students are currently enrolled in courses that focus on Spanish culture and history and also pique their academic interests. In addition to the required course taught by Rodriguez-Mansilla on the Golden Age of Spain, Ahmadi and Morris are taking courses ranging from the Spanish language to painting, literature, propaganda and publicity.
“Studying about a culture is great and it feels incredibly special being able to walk around the same streets and buildings that we talk about in class,” says Ahmadi, a biology major and Spanish minor.
A core component of the trip has been getting out of the classroom to explore local culture and customs. The HWS group has also taken several excursions across the country to cities including Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba and Cadiz.
“During these excursions my group has visited different historic cathedrals and mosques, while learning about the history of Spain and Andalusia,” explains Morris, who’s also looking forward to an excursion to Morocco next month.
The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is a highly competitive national grant program facilitated by the U.S. Department of State that provides up to $5,000 for students to study or intern abroad. To be accepted into the program, both students had to complete a competitive application process, which involved multiple essays and a proposal for a project upon returning to the U.S.
“The project will reach other eligible students, explain how the Gilman Scholarship aided me and how it could aid them as well,” Morris explains. Both students note that the Center for Global Education Operations Manager Amy Teel was instrumental in helping them navigate the detailed application process.
Ahmadi and Morris are two of four HWS students who were awarded prestigious national-level study abroad scholarships this semester. Supporting their studies in Vietnam, Katherine Burns ’18 was awarded a Freeman ASIA Scholarship, while Lauren Workman ’19 received a Foundation for Education Abroad Scholarship.