JMU Community Profiles

Semester in Salamanca Celebrates 25 Years of Success

The Office of International Programs celebrated its 25th anniversary of partnership with the University of Salamanca in Spain for the Semester in Salamanca (SIS) program.  In 1987, the first group of JMU students landed in Salamanca and paved the way for the more than 2000 who have participated.  The program was designed to be a Spanish language and culture experience in which students take classes taught by Spanish professors and live with local host families.

JMU hosted an SIS reunion in April to celebrate, which was a grand success. Seventy-five people gathered to renew friendships, share memories and honor Jesús Jiménez and his wife Ana Caro. They both work onsite with the program, with Jiménez serving as resident director and Caro acting as housing coordinator.  They visited JMU for the festivities, along with Noemí Domínguez, Vice Rector for International and Institutional Relations at the University of Salamanca.  During the celebration, returning alums and JMU faculty dined on traditional Spanish foods and drinks as well as visited a winery.  

Alums from the very first group that participated in the program have fond memories of their SIS experiences.  Monica Boyd (’88), who taught high school Spanish for nine years, commented,  “Without the trip I don’t know if I would have gotten my Spanish degree and gone on to be a teacher.”  “I think it was where I learned how to learn,” said Alli Alligood (’88).  “To be in a class where someone is poetically describing architecture and art and then to walk out into the city and see it was awesome.  It was the first time I was exposed to that much culture, that much art, that much history and language, and a whole different social order all at once.  I appreciated every morsel of the experience.”

The second part of the celebration took place in Salamanca with a visit from Dr. Jerry Benson, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at JMU; Dr. Lee Sternberger, executive director of the JMU Office of International Programs; Felix Wang, director of the JMU Study Abroad program; and Jesús Jiménez.  They met with Salamanca’s mayor, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, and Noemí Domínguez for a local news press conference. In addition, JMU SIS students, past and present host families, and professors at the University of Salamanca participated in the events.

Looking Ahead to New Opportunities –
Double Master’s Degree

JMU and the University of Salamanca (USAL) have agreed to partner in a double master’s program where students can earn a master’s degree from each institution. The collaboration is pioneered by the Spanish Language Department at the USAL and the College of Education at JMU. Upon completion, students will earn a Master in Languages and Culture from USAL and Master of Education from JMU. The program is designed for teachers of Spanish in the United States who are interested in continuing their academic preparation.

The blended learning structure of the program allows teachers to continue their professional careers while pursuing their degrees. Students will enroll at JMU during a summer session, then attend classes at USAL the following summer. The remaining courses are offered online. The curriculum consists of courses such as Learning Theories and Practice, Curriculum Design, Cross-Cultural Education, Spanish and Hispano-American Literature, and Spanish History and Culture. Students will be supervised by faculty from both institutions and also have the opportunity to engage in a practicum.