Most of my summer was spent taking courses and working. It’s a real shame that I didn’t even go swimming. However, that wasn’t the same for Carmen Garcia. Like her personality, her summer was quite adventurous.
Garcia, at 22, is currently a senior at TAMIU. She is a double major in communication and Spanish literature and is anticipating her graduation in May 2017. For her, the two majors truly provide a dual experience. The communication courses, for her, are very theoretical and technical while the Spanish courses are very adventurous and exploratory.
Garcia, though a senior, has been in TAMIU for two years. Like many TAMIU students, she began her college experience in Laredo Community College. Prior to that, she attended United South High School.
Evident in her sleek accent, Garcia is native Mexican, and is originally from Nuevo Laredo. Spanish is her native tongue–she embraces it in her studies and is fascinated by its literature. As much as she enjoys her language, she does plan to explore careers in communication, somewhere in the media. She has a passion to express good community values, and no matter where in the world, she understands that the undeniable pursuit of the truth is mandatory.
“The media has a good influence on the community. There are so many things you can do, especially for where you live and its growth. I always want to seek the truth, and I am very passionate against injustice. If it’s not working in the media, then I would want to work in civil service and community development. I plan to keep studying literature. I do want to be a professor one day.”
Garcia’s adventurous summer took place in Spain. She did a study abroad program that kept her in the Iberian Peninsula throughout all of June and July. She was enrolled in two courses. Both were on Spanish literature. One was on Spanish poetry. The other was with historic novels concerning the old Muslims of Spain.
Of the two classes, she had a strong preference for the course on historic novels. There was a level of connective learning between the books she read and the places she went to. It allowed her to explore both the history and what the stories expressed. It gave her a comparative understanding—something only a study abroad program could provide.
“The course was in relation to when the Moors were in Spain. I think that made my experience much better. It made me understand the place and how they are connected. It talked a lot of the Spanish inquisition, and I think that is relative today. It reflects how people aren’t represented, in this case, the Moorish people. We talk about how the stories express the voice of those without one.”
Most of her time was spent in the city of Malaga, but she did manage to visit other places including Grenada, Seville, Cordova, and Marbella. She shared how she was very interested in visiting Morocco. It was a brief ferry ride across the Mediterranean, but it was in another country, and the staff of the program forbade her from doing so.
“Morocco is only a boat away. It’s like a forty minute sail. They said it’s very dangerous, yet people go regularly. I also wanted to go to the running of the bulls, but they didn’t let me also. They said that was also too dangerous. They said all things I wanted to do were dangerous things. I just wanted to see from the window. They knew that I was hardheaded, but I listened to them.”
Garcia had a strong independent spirit throughout trip. She did not enjoy being weighed down from getting the most absolute experience. She shared how she would sometime butt heads with fellow students who would not go outside of their comfort zone. At times she was embarrassed by their attitudes, but that did not stop her from getting her money’s worth. Except for what was on the class schedule, she traveled autonomously to countless museums and locales.
As she put it, Spain was a “romantic county.” It had a very relaxed attitude which, to her, might be at the root of their unemployment issue. She noticed how the Spanish people have a strong siesta mentality.
“They have this mentality where everything is fine. I met so many people. Many of them are restaurant owners. The restaurant would open three weeks ago, but nobody would show up to work. In three weeks, they would go through so many different staff members. It sounds like a stereotype, but it is true. It’s very strange that they are in a deficit, yet they won’t stop drinking wine.”
A lot of the young people are commonly seen sipping wine at the beach and not so much on the clock. However, Garcia’s studious developments allowed her to pay better attention to the details. Spain’s history never really revolved around hard labor as opposed to the United States, Britain, or Russia. In her readings, she understood how Spain and its people marveled in imperial strength, and then that went away. Spain did not struggle in Europe’s World Wars, and embraced democracy around the time America celebrated its bicentennial. All these details are evident in their lifestyle. Had she not been travelling as a student, she would likely be like the rest of young people there—spending their days on the beach and their nights at parties.
As a TAMIU student, Garcia is still very involved. She’s recently been elected as a senator in the Student Government Association (SGA). She is one of several senators representing the College of Arts & Sciences. The SGA is something relatively new to her. A close friend of hers suggested that she run for the seat. As senator, she wants to increase student involvement, while also further developing her own involvement as a student. She wants students to explore cultural movements and learn more about Laredo rich Hispanic heritage. Also, she understands that the SGA is an excellent place to network. To her, networking is an indispensable tool for career planning. While opening her own doors, she aims to open doors for other TAMIU students as well.