University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC), has been able to secure once in a lifetime opportunities for our students to meet, or at least be close to, grand world events. Some of our students saw the white smoke of the Vatican when the Pope was elected, others were around for the past Olympics, and others have even seen the Dalai Lama, in person!
Recently, two of our Spain study abroad programs, Bilbao/Getxo and San Sebastián, and current students were able to meet with the Basque Country’s Lehendakari (President) Iñigo Urkullu. Lehendakari Urkullu led with a speech to our students and staff abroad, and was gracious enough to grant everyone a chance to take a few photos with him (see below).
As a token of a long-standing friendship and appreciation between the Basque Country and USAC, Carmelo Urza, director of USAC, presented a gift and note that reads as follows:
The University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) sent its first group abroad in 1983 when 23 students came to San Sebastián to study the languages and cultures of the Basque Country. Of these, some students were of Basque families but most were not. All, however, returned to the U.S. with a new appreciation and in some cases a deep love for this country. And this has been the experience that has repeated itself every year since.
Since 1983 the Consortium has grown and now sends hundreds of students each year to 41 programs in 26 countries world-wide. Due to this expansion, USAC opened another program in Bilbao in 1995 to accompany the program in Donostia. The two programs have always enjoyed a very good relationship with the Basque Government and the University of the Basque Country. We have tried to encourage the integration of cultures through joint projects between our students and local students, families and businesses, through internships, volunteer work and other activities.
When they return home, the USAC students take with them many wonderful memories of Euskadi because they have not been mere spectators of this culture. Thanks to the generosity of the people here, our students have been able to participate in farm chores, parades and festivals, sports and other cultural events. And perhaps just as important as these formal activities, are the thousands of conversations they have maintained over many good meals with family and Basque friends.
Typically, at the end of their stay, our students return home eager to see their families but with sorrow to leave behind their “second family” and all the friendships that made in this country. Esukadi becomes their second home and an important part of their lives. We know this because many keep in touch with us, some stop by our offices when they come back to visit, they write blogs about the experience and many recommend their friends to study with us. In fact, our students become very good unofficial ambassadors of the country that has accepted them with open arms.
All of us in USAC in Euskadi and in the United States are very grateful for the sincere and profound reception so that our students have experienced in the Basque Country.
Here is the original article about the meeting between the Basque President and USAC.
This encounter is just one of the many ways USAC provides its students with life-changing, cultural immersion opportunities.
Wondering how you can plan around world events while earning academic credit toward your major or minor? Check our program listing and get in contact with us today!