The most defining element of the Duke in Spain program is its complete immersion of students into the madrileño culture. Our final project for our arts and literature class involved visiting a slam poetry bar and presenting a reflection of our experiences to the class. My group visited the Aleatorio, a cozy slam poetry bar tucked away a few blocks from the Duke in Madrid center.
That night there were no traditional reading programmed; instead the audience ran the program. We were given a starting phrase and five songs worth of time to write a short story to present. As an American visitor to this local poetry bar, I felt completely out of my element. Creative writing, on the spot, in my second language, presented to strangers- home definitely felt 4,000 miles away.
However, once I stepped out of the spotlight after finishing reading my short story and saw the audience’s warm smiles, I knew the risk was worth it. Although my Spanish skills are still developing, I felt viva y libre (a slogan on one of the bar's posters), free of judgement and alive with the culture.
This program has inspired me to pursue a major in Spanish and I am looking forward to volunteering with the Spanish speaking community in Durham this semester in order to continue learning Spanish through stepping outside my comfort zone. Duke in Spain is an amazing program if you want to learn Spanish in a challenging, yet incredibly rewarding way.
Class of 2021, Biology,
Spanish, Latin American, and Latino/a Studies