Course Takes Students to Cartagena, Colombia

April 5th, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

Oneonta student Emily Rogers takes a picture with children in Cartagena.

Eleven students spent a week in Cartagena, Colombia, this semester as part of a faculty-led Spanish field course on the world of Nobel Prize-winning writer Gabriel (“Gabo”) García Márquez.

Accompanied by Drs. Gustavo Arango and Maria Montoya of SUNY Oneonta’s Department of Foreign Languages & Literatures, the students visited the actual settings where some of Márquez’s short stories and novels took place. In addition to an extended visit to Cartagena, the main commercial port in South America during colonial times, the group visited Aracataca, Márquez’s birthplace and the inspiration for his fictional town of Macondo; Santa Marta; Barranquilla and Islas del Rosario, a nature reserve.

“I am going to remember this trip for the rest of my life,” said sophomore Tate Stoyell, a dual Adolescent Education/Spanish major. “Everything was just beautiful. It really helped tie in Gabo’s magical realism theme into my imagination. I read his stories better now that I have an understanding of the incredible place he writes about.”

The course also had a service-learning component, with students donating clothing and other items and visiting and playing with children in poor communities. Veronica LoPrimo, a junior majoring in mass communications, said she has developed some new habits—and a new perspective—after seeing poverty firsthand.

“Before this trip, I never really cared about being a humanitarian, because I thought, ‘I’m just one person. What can I do?’” This experience changed that. I’ve found that if people are willing to learn, you can make a difference by telling them about your experience. You don’t have to be a philanthropist with a million dollars to make a difference.”

Spanish 394, Garcia Márquez’s World, is one of several faculty-led field courses being offered this spring and summer. Others courses will take students to Peru, Israel, Ecuador, South Africa, Hong Kong, and Guatemala to study topics ranging from biology to music.