Kyla Sener

Kyla Sener
'12
Minor: 
Hometown: 
Burlington, Vermont

My experience studying abroad in Spain:

For my internship during the second semester I worked with the Asociación Horuelo, a non-governmental organization in Madrid. Horuelo works primarily with the immigrant population of the city, with different programs directed towards specific groups of immigrants. I worked directly with the Jacobinia and AVIVAR programs.

Jacobinia is a residence that provides shelter and tutelage to teenage boys, most of whom have emigrated from Morocco to Spain without their parents or any type of support system. I was assigned to the task of working with the guys on their Spanish writing, reading and speaking skills. Though it was usually a struggle to get them to study for the hour that I had with each one, we usually just ended up having interesting conversations about what was going on in the news or watching videos on YouTube about life in Morocco. Also, because some of the guys were about to turn 18 and would have to leave the residence and find work, sometimes I helped them search online for job opportunities. This often became frustrating due to the gloomy economic condition of Spain during the past few years and the general lack of employment, especially for a 17 year old without an educational background or professional qualifications.

            On a different note, with AVIVAR, I traveled to two different elementary schools and one middle school in the outskirts of Madrid to help the students with their homework. Here I worked with kids from Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, and Ecuador, among other countries. The percentage of immigrant children in these schools is very high partly as a result of Spanish parents moving their kids from these to schools with tuition in order to avoid the less agreeable population of the newcomers. However, despite the fact that the native Spanish and the new Spanish tend to keep away from each other, I found that the kids in these three schools didn’t care much about their classmates’ nationalities and were friends anyway.

            On top of learning valuable job skills from my internship, I also gained a better sense of the conflicting situation of the immigrant in contemporary Spain. I realized that Spain still has a long way to go in terms of handling the influx of immigrants and its social consequences, but it was comforting to know that there were associations like Horuelo who help with the incorporation of these newcomers into society. Overall, I think my time was well spent working with this association and would recommend it to other students for their internship experience as well.