Education and Child Advocacy in Spain

Building on more than 20 years of partnership, Accent has in recent years deepened collaboration with Texas Christian University to design and support an expanding portfolio of faculty directed programs, including various programs on education and psychology. Last summer, TCU students traveled to Madrid to take part in the Youth Advocacy and Education in Spain program. The three-week program involved coursework with TCU College of Education faculty Amber Esping and Cynthia Montes, several topical study visits throughout the city, and various activities included to highlight aspects of Spanish culture and history. The program enrolled education majors as well as students of psychology and social work.

One of the highlights of the program was a visit to the Fundación Balia, an NGO providing educational support to children and young adults. Irene Ramon Lopez, the foundation’s Human Development Manager, first introduced the foundation’s work. One of their major goals is to help children aged three to twelve from families with limited financial means. After school hours, Balia centers open their doors to students, who get to spend time in a safe and stimulating environment, can focus on their homework and receive help when needed or participate in extra classes. After Ramon Lopez’s introduction, students visited the center facilities. While the children were eating their merienda (mid-afternoon snack), TCU students observed teachers getting ready to start their afternoon classes or educational activities and asked about their experience working at Fundación Balia. It was then their turn to answer some questions, as many children were eager to find out more about the group of foreign visitors they had spotted in the hallway.

Finally, students learned about the foundation’s other initiatives, which target the children’s families. For example, a range of professional development courses are made available to women and single mothers, in the hope to help them achieve financial independence.

Another visit at was at Asilim, an association that supports the linguistic integration of immigrants in Madrid. Thanks to the work of its many volunteers, they provide language classes for adults who recently arrived in Spain. By talking to volunteers and learners alike, TCU students were able to learn more about the work of the association and their many success stories. This study visit was not the first instance of cooperation between Accent and Asilim, as in the past U.S. students have worked there as interns, supporting Asilim’s mission in various roles.

Through these study visits and other learning activities, students explored lesser-known aspects of education in Spain for both minors and adults, and gained new insight into their field of study.

Accent partners with U.S. colleges and universities to provide fully customized support for faculty-directed summer programs, thanks to its extensive local network of speakers, institutions, and experts. Experiential learning activities often include guest lectures, workshops, and study tours to locations of academic relevance.