July 22nd 2013
Following the three day weekend, the group that went to Portugal and the group that went to Valencia made our way home. That Monday morning we were all sad to leave Valencia, not only because Valencia was beautiful, but because that meant our time in Spain was coming to an end. We took a high speed train at 8 in the morning and made it back just in time for lunch at the dorms. It was great seeing everyone and exchanging stories about our weekends. After that we all got settled back in and enjoyed some down time as we prepared to present our assignments. We had been assigned to approach three different categories of people, older generation, a family, and youth. We were instructed to introduce ourselves... "Hello my name is ____. I'm a student at the University of Washington. I'm in Leon studying youth unemployment. This is my research question. What do you think? Is it relevant?" Granted this all had to be in Spanish. The assignment provided more struggles for some students than others, as the range in our group varied from previously knowing no Spanish and being a native Spanish speaker. Approaching a stranger can be very intimidating, but add a language barrier and the task seems daunting. At around 6 pm we all made our way to the Leon Center. We all sat in a circle and each person had a turn to share their experience. Some of the interviews went really well for people and they found a valuable resource. And other interviews brought a lot of laughs for us. One example being Tarra trying to tell a lady that her yogurt looked good and the lady thinking that Tarra wanted to take her yogurt. This assignment definitely pushed everyone outside of their comfort zone, and it also helped us realize how many valuable resources may be out there if we just ask.
July 23rd 2013
On this day we had our last Spanish class in the morning and then the afternoon free to do research and work on our presentations. Many of us worked on our papers and started making our powerpoints.At 5 pm Julie and Edgar came to the dorms to take us to the cooking class. The cooking class was a 10 minute walk. We got there and our instructor had already started some of the meal prep. She said that on the menu for dinner was Sopa de Ajo, Paella, and Limonada. We all helped by cutting the oranges and lemons then got the juice out. We were all a little taken a back when she added 2 bags of sugar, but we figured we shouldn't question the cook.
We helped with a lot of the cutting and stirring, but she definitely did most of the cooking, which was probably for the best! We asked her a lot of questions about what food was most typical in Leon (paella), what dessert was her favorite (arroz con leche), when she started cooking (around 40 years ago), and overall we really enjoyed getting to know her! She told us about when she was 22 working in a restaurant and there was an international cooking competition in Leon. She entered a few of her dishes just to see how she would do. The competition is set up so that know one knows who cooked what, it is all based on the taste. She was in the park when she received a phone call informing her that she had won. She was so surprised and so excited. She went on to enter the competition the next five years with different plates, and won every time. Needless to say we were all so excited and honored to try her cooking.
All the food turned out incredible and we were so happy to have had this experience!