by Helena Witzke
The WMU Department of Spanish has had an outstanding year with its study abroad programs; from Spain to Mexico, both old students and new are taking part in the ongoing international opportunities offered as a part of Western’s global focus.
Dr. Pablo Pastrana-Pérez, professor of Spanish, directed the 2011 study abroad program in Santander, Spain. In addition, Pastrana-Pérez also was one of the founding members of the Consortium on Pilgrimage Studies. The Consortium seeks to develop a curriculum centered on pilgrimages that will have two parts: an academic component (a capstone course on pilgrimage) and a practical one (an actual hike along the Way of St. James).
The Department of Spanish had a successful global experience in this hemisphere, too. The first Querétaro alumni reunion, which commemorated 16 years of academic exchange between Western Michigan University and the University of Querétaro, was held in Querétaro, Mexico, on July 8, 2011.
Host families, faculty from both universities and former students gathered together to reminisce about the longstanding relationship that has benefited students from both countries. Over 130 people celebrated these relationships that have grown from the heartfelt desire to provide our students with the study abroad experience—a fundamental piece of a complete university education.
President of WMU, Dr. John M. Dunn, in a letter honoring the occasion, congratulated those gathered on the success of the program, and emphasized the importance of a global education. He wrote, “What pulled you together as students was your love of language. What connects you all now as alumni is the realization that [this experience] enriched your college years in ways you never expected and continues today to shape who you are and how you see the world.”