Rich in culture, history, and Instagram-worthy sceneries – is it even a surprise that Spain is one of the top dream destinations when it comes to studying abroad? The country undoubtedly has a lot to offer! If you’re after culture, then there’s no better place to start than the capital itself.
Life in Madrid is a vibrant mix of friendly people, great food, and (your wallet will cheer for this one) an affordable cost of living. St. Louis University – Madrid (SLU-Madrid) makes the student experience even more memorable through community outreach initiatives.
A culture of service
The spirit of service is alive and well at SLU-Madrid. Students are encouraged to follow Jesuit tradition and participate in activities that can help those in need.
Most recently, a group of 10 student-volunteers and their teachers took a three-hour trip south of Madrid. Their destination? A small elementary school called CEIP Menéndez Pelayo in Puertollano, Ciudad Real. The school’s courtyard had three bare walls and the SLU-Madrid students came equipped with enough brushes and paint to create a mural for the children on each wall.
Working hard, playing hard
The weekend for the SLU-Madrid students began with an energizing welcome breakfast. They were treated to delicious servings of churros and abrazos to start the day.
The morning was spent at school. Before they got down to painting the murals, the SLU-Madrid students first took the time to create storybooks and build balloon rocket cars for the school children. They even played charades with over 60 local children.
“[It was] a morning of English learning, laughter, and fun,” Veronica Rose Chancy shared when asked about their first morning at CEIP Menéndez Pelayo.
In the afternoon, they began preparations for the murals. The SLU-Madrid students first sanded the walls. Afterwards, they painted over them with with a base layer of white. It was a tedious process, but with everyone working together diligently they finished in time for dinner.
CEIP Menéndez Pelayo and the local English academy of Gema Pérez rewarded all of the students’ hard work with gracious hospitality. Students got to enjoy local cuisine, various comida manchega dishes prepared especially for them.
Reaping the rewards
The most rewarding part of SLU-Madrid’s community outreach initiative in Puertollano happened the following day. CEIP Menéndez Pelayo’s students excitedly arrived at the school on time. After a few games with the SLU-Madrid volunteers, they began painting.
Veronica Rose Chancy, one of the student-volunteers from SLU-Madrid, describes the whole experience as chaotic bliss.
“The next day cannot be described as anything but chaotic bliss. One wall featured the kids’ favorite words in English filled up by bright colors, another wall featured a mural of the globe and an ocean filled with creatures drawn by the children and designed by SLU-Madrid student Ava Thors. The last wall, my personal favorite, is an art gallery of the students’ work. We created many little picture frames that each kid filled with whatever their heart desired.”
United in community outreach
Despite coming from different backgrounds, everyone agreed on a motto for the trip: Da Igual de Donde Vengamos, Sino Donde Nos Juntamos. It doesn’t matter where we come from, just that we get together.
This community outreach project was initially planned by the first batch of student-volunteers who visited Puertollano in the fall of 2018. Although the SLU-Madrid students who went on the most recent visit didn’t come up with the project, they still gave their all in painting the murals.
Everyone had the common goal of bringing smiles onto the faces of the CEIP Menéndez Pelayo children. Instead of letting their differences hinder their teamwork, their singular goal united them.