“A Taste of Spain” gives students a twist of culture

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Murphy 224 was filled with students and faculty for “A Taste of Spain.”

Vicky Perez illustrates what she is talking about during the Taste of Spain Presentation. Tevin Harris | Photo Editor.
Vicky Perez illustrates what she is talking about during the Taste of Spain Presentation. Tevin Harris | Photo Editor.

The English, Foreign Languages and Journalism Department hosted the event to help educate people on the Spanish culture, customs and country. Vicky Perez Calzadilla was the guest speaker. She is a Fulbright Scholar currently teaching three Spanish classes at Missouri Western. A native of Spain, Calzadilla took the group on a virtual tour of the country.

Beginning with the Northwest corner and circling the coastline then traveling through the interior, guests were shown the highlights of many cities and regions.

“There is a wide variety of languages spoken in the country,”  Calzadilla said, “depending on what region you are traveling in.”

Like the language, the landscape varies drastically from Northern to Southern Spain. Northern architecture is dark and grey with thick stone walls to keep out dampness and cold. Southern architecture is white, bright, and much more airy.

“In the South, you will see flat roofs and large windows,” Calzadilla said. “Many old parts of towns are pedestrian only.”

She showed examples of various traditional celebrations including Las Falles, the celebration of Saint Joseph. Large models are made of wax, paper-mache, and wood then burnt at the end of the celebration, she said. It is a smoky, fiery, five day celebration that involves fireworks and many noisemakers. Some models are five stories tall. They depict a wide range of people from Lady Gaga to President Obama. There is no limit to what is created.

A video was also shown of the historic yearly running of the bulls celebration in Pamplona. Calzadilla explained that tourism is a huge market in Spain due to the large amount of usable coastline. Almost all Spanish cities are tourist destinations due to the huge variety of architectural influences.

“It’s a very exploited area because of the tourists,” Calzadilla said.

She displayed pictures of miles of beaches with hotels nearly on the water. She said that heavy beach erosion has occurred in these areas due to overpopulation and exploitation. Spain sets on the Mediterranean Sea coastline, Calzadilla explained that the water there is similar to calm lake water. It is crystal clear, warm and very pleasant to swim in, she told the crowd.

“This is a unique way of seeing what is native to the land,” assistant professor of Spanish Francisco Castilla Ortiz said. “it shows what the natives would show.”

Calzadilla said the city of Bilbao boasts a Guggenheim Museum built by Canadian-American architect  Frank Gehry. The modern art building is highly recognized because it has been featured in movies, music videos and video games. Built in 1997, it invigorated the Bilbao tourist industry with its wavy, reflective outer walls and innovative interior design.

“Overall, I thought the presentation was very exciting, and it convinced me to visit Spain in the future,” junior Kelsey Samenus, president of the Spanish Club, said.

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