I found out about the West European Studies Center during a Martin Luther King Day workshop and when I discovered that there were grants available for special projects I decided to apply. Knowing that I would be traveling to Spain in June with students, I planned a project that I could accomplish during the trip and bring back to my classroom to supplement what I teach about Spanish culture. I decided to focus on Spanish youth since the topic is of interest to students and allows them to easily compare their lives with those of youth in Spain. My goal was to develop a video of Spanish youth answering questions about topics that would be relevant and interesting to my students.
While in Spain, my students and I spent three days with Spanish students from Extremadura and I was able to interview the Spanish students on a range of topics. I also talked to a few other young people I met during the rest of the trip and added their interviews to my project. At times, this meant approaching total strangers and asking them to participate, but the people I met were so friendly and helpful that this was never a problem.
Upon my return to the U.S. I began the most difficult part of the project, editing the video. First, I needed to reformat it to work with the video editing software I was using (Windows Movie Maker). Then I added the questions as text to make it easier for students to follow. I also added factual data and statistics for each of the topics. After each of the interviews I added a screen with a review of the questions the Spanish youth answered to be answered by the American students viewing the video. The purpose of these questions is twofold- they provide the American students opportunities to practice their Spanish and they facilitate the cross-cultural comparisons I want students to make after and during watching the video.
After creating the video, I spent some time developing additional activities for teachers to use before and after viewing the video. Many of these provide linguistic preparation to make comprehension of the video easier and to provide students with their own statistics to compare with those of the video. Others expand on the information in the video and allow students to do their own investigations of different aspects of Spanish youth culture.
Completing the project was definitely an adventure. I learned a lot about Spanish youth and using technology to create classroom resources. I am happy to have a video and activites I can use in my classroom that will stimulate my students to learn more about Spanish youth and appreciate the many things they have in common with them. I am thankful for the opportunity to create this project and I am happy to share it with others through the WEST website. I encourage other teachers to apply for lesson plan grants to develop creative projects to share.