Imagine walking down a narrow cobblestone street, watching flamenco dancing and listening to traditional Spanish music in the corridors of Granada surrounded by vibrant clusters of spring flowers.
Each year, ETSU allows students to immerse themselves in all aspects of another culture and for some students; they are able to experience just this.
Whether it’s by studying abroad or participating in a variety of multicultural events across campus, students have many opportunities to engage in another language or culture that may be different from their own.
ETSU’s Department of Housing offers an additional opportunity for students to live in a Spanish Language and Cultures Living-Learning Community.
“It’s very much of a first-year program, we don’t have a big number of students but we’re hoping as we build it, it’ll become something that’s appealing to Spanish majors or people who are just looking to keep their Spanish fluency up,” said Matthew Fehskens, faculty representative for the living learning community.
However, students do not have to be Spanish majors to participate in the program.
“The Spanish language and culture are not unique phenomena to just Spanish majors,” said Adrianna Guram, assistant director for academic initiatives. “They are people who are present in people’s families, people’s relationships, social circles and I think that the community aligns with that.”
The community is different than the average freshman dorm experience and focuses on providing students an on campus spanish experience.
“We didn’t have trouble getting a living space but there were challenges to the type of living space we got,” he said. “We were trying to balance affordability but also look at the type of facilities, we would need to do Hispanic cultural activities.”
Six students reside in the community on the third floor of Governor’s Hall, adjacent to the classroom and meeting space.
The Governor’s housing rate does not increase due to living in a learning community but there is extra expectation and participation, Guram said.
“One goal was always to try to give students the chance to do what a study abroad experience does in a residence hall,” Guram said. “Being around people who want to study Spanish or learn Spanish so that they are in an environment where they can practice with each other.”
The idea is to create a Spanish cultural immersion between all aspects of living: food, language and activities. There will be 1-2 cultural and academic activities provided by the faculty representative for residents every month throughout the semester.
“By making it a physical presence, instead of a 50 minute class that someone goes to three times a week, it’s a physical presence that people in other majors and other floors of the dorm will see, hear and become aware of,” Fehskens said.
Since the community is in its pilot year, Fehskens said they would like to have a Spanish major who could interact and provide dorm conversations and activities for students.
“Studies have shown that students creating a community within their major, if they make friends within their major, the university experience becomes less alienating and lonely then GPA’s go through the roof and graduation percent increases,” he said.
Interested students for the next academic year should complete an online application and receive formal acceptance.
“We want to increase the awareness of not only this living opportunity but Spanish classes at ETSU, the awareness of the Spanish language and culture, which is becoming increasingly present in East Tennessee,” Fehskens said.