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First "UTPA Week in San Miguel de Allende" a study abroad success
Posted: 08/20/2009
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More than 20 students at The University of Texas-Pan American received intensive art and creative writing instruction during "UTPA Week in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico," a new study abroad experience hosted by the University July 20-24.

UTPA students were able to view the paintings of French artist Mateo Khun, pictured in the background, with internationally renowned nature photographer Phillipe Perrin (fourth from right) who visited with them during their study abroad experience in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico July 20-24.
Students were joined by 12 members of the UTPA Mariachi Aztlan, who performed at various locations in the community, and three UTPA faculty members, who presented during the Summer Lecture Series at the local library.

"San Miguel de Allende has proven to be a great international location for our University to develop comprehensive learning programs for our students and faculty," said Dr. Paul Sale, UTPA provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. "It's a friendly, welcoming community that offers an abundance of art, music and cultural experiences."

Master of Fine Arts graduate student IsaĆ­ Mireles completed this watercolor of a San Miguel de Allende church steeple from photos and sketches he made during the study abroad program held in July.
The study abroad program was led by UTPA faculty Reynaldo Santiago, associate professor of art, and Dr. Steven Schneider, professor of English, who integrated the daily experiences of life in San Miguel de Allende into the students' curriculum. Throughout the week, students visited with many local artists whose work represented a variety of media, from abstract painting and sculpture to performance art. Students also met with local writers during a special writers' panel discussion.

The Mariachi Aztlan showcased their unique musical style and performance flare at the Casa de la Cultura, the Bella Italia Restaurant, and in Alcocer, a small farming community on the outskirts of San Miguel de Allende. To conclude the week, the group performed in the main square in front of the famous "parroquia" or church.

The Summer Lecture Series, which was well attended, featured presentations on topics related to business, philosophy and music by Dr. Teofilo Ozuna, dean, College of Business Administration; Dr. Cynthia Jones, assistant professor of philosophy; and Dr. Peter Dabrowski, associate professor of music and Valley Symphony Orchestra conductor.

Artist Gerardo Ruiz (right), who has exhibited throughout the world and offers courses to aspiring artists in drawing, painting and encaustic techniques in his San Miguel de Allende studio, demonstrated the art of printmaking to some of the UTPA study abroad students.
Rosie Leal, a UTPA graduate student in creative writing, said the study abroad experience in San Miguel de Allende was one of true growth and enrichment for her.

"The vastness of the colors, the culture, and the beauty of this city has truly inspired my writing. I am grateful for all the friendships I have made and the wonderful professors that influenced my growth through this program. Indeed, this city not only transformed my life, but inspired creativity and perseverance," she said.

Schneider called it a great experience for the students, who, he said, were inspired by the history and culture of the city and the opportunity to meet with local writers and artists.

"As a faculty member, it was very fulfilling to see the growth they made in their writing and in their personal lives from this cross-cultural experience," he said.

Research is being conducted to determine areas of interest for future programs. If you are interested in continuing education options in San Miguel de Allende and would like to complete a survey, please go to http://www.utpa.edu/sma.To receive updates on plans for next year's program, call the Office of Graduate Studies, Academic Centers and Continuing Education at 956/381-3661 or e-mail continuinged@utpa.edu.