In recollection of the experience during my Erasmus+ Mobility for Academic Staff, there are three themes that I would like to emphasize about my experience: Cultural Enrichment, Academic Networking and Professional Development.
My trip to Spain was my first time traveling to Europe. As a lecturer of literature at the University of Belize, I was particularly excited to experience as much culture as those 7 days of mobility would afford me. Before traveling, I had the pleasure of reading the works of several contemporary Spanish authors, such as Javier Marias and Enrique Vila Matas, so I was especially looking forward to a feeling of the literary in the space I was preparing to enter. Also, I had recently begun reading Cervantes’ masterpiece, Don Quijote, which I was to incidentally learn that the first part was actually written in the fabulous city of Valladolid, where Cervantes once resided. I had the feeling that I was surely in for a special treat.
My expectations to experience the literary were more than fulfilled. Walking through the House of Cervantes was an otherworldly experience for me. This blog is too short to capture that feeling. Also, having a tour of the Santa Cruz library had a similar effect – books are sacred here and I immediately got the feeling of their role in the construction of a vibrant culture in Valladolid.
Incidentally, Valladolid was also hosting its annual book fair, where I was also able to meet writers and publishers – very exciting. Travelling to the National Sculpture Museum and several cathedrals helped me to develop a deeper understanding of my Catholic faith, its history and how central art and literature are to its foundation.
Academic Networking and Professional Development
Meeting with faculty, staff and students at UVa’s Facultad de Filosofía y Letras and the International Office was an invaluable experience. Everyone whom I encountered at the UVa was very open to dialogue and sharing resources about their programs and research. A particularly rewarding experience was spending some time in classes in progress. This experience opened my eyes to the diversity of students and different approaches to teaching language to international students. Faculty also shared useful knowledge about their programs and expressed commitment to pursue further collaboration with the University of Belize – quite inspiring. Such networking has advanced my professional development and my capability to establish networks across institutions.
I will always be thankful to everyone at the UVa and the UB who made this an unforgettable and enriching experience.