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Absorbing Spanish Culture and History, MCCC Joins with Hightstown High School for Study Tour to Granada


West Windsor, N.J. – Thirty area students, including several from Mercer County Community College (MCCC), are spending three weeks in the Granada region of Spain through July 20. They are absorbing history and culture while living with local host families – and earning college credits. Two full-time MCCC students are on the tour, along with World Languages Coordinator Daniel D’Arpa.  Another 28 students are from Hightstown High School, joined by their Spanish teacher Candice Bland, who also teaches as an adjunct instructor at MCCC.

According to Professor D’Arpa, this is the first-ever collaborative Study Tour to Spain with high school students from Hightstown. Several other colleges are also part of the group, including students from American University, Villanova University, and University of Central Florida.

D’Arpa notes that the trip's main focus is academic. Approximately 25 of the Hightstown students are pursuing college credits during the trip through MCCC’s Hispanic Culture (SPA 110) course. The course includes three to four hours of academic work each day.

Cultural immersion is another special aspect of the learning experience. “Students are getting the opportunity to live and interact with a Spanish host family throughout their stay,” D'Arpa said.

“It’s a true collaboration with educational partners in the our community,” D’Arpa said, noting that Bland has been successfully running the trip for five years and this is the inaugural year for the partnership that enables her students to earn MCCC credits while expanding their horizons through travel.

MCCC students Perla Castro, left, and Jennifer Vitella in one of Granada's central historic plazas.

The itinerary is full of architectural, historical, linguistic, literary, artistic and gastronomical highlights. The group is studying Moorish-influenced culture and the Castilian language. Excursions include the breathtaking Alhambra palace and fortress complex, the Mezquita of Córdoba, Picasso's art in his hometown of Málaga, the pristine coastline of Spain's Sunny Costa del Sol, the aromatic Albaicin district, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Study Abroad at MCCC

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Glenn Kraft