Six CSU Monterey Bay students spent part of their summer learning how to conduct oral history interviews in a rural community in Spain.

Students listen to a lecture in Burgos, SpainDavid Macko, Timothy Davis, A.J. Cibulsky, Karina Gomez, Megan Thomas and Susan Dyar took part in the ethnographic field research school sponsored by the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

During June, the students and Dr. Juan Gutierrez, the program director, traveled to Boñar in the province of León, in northwestern Spain.

“It was a town I never would have visited, yet loved more than the destination spots we visited,” Thomas said.

According to Dr. Gutierrez, the program has two goals: to give students experience in ethnographic field research methods, and to make a contribution to the region by generating knowledge and appreciation for the cultural legacy of the area.

They collected and analyzed information, and visited anthropological, historical and cultural sites, medieval locations and cathedrals of northern Spain, and contemporary landmarks such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

Map of SpainThe students collaborated with researchers associated with La Alcordanza, an organization that studies and promotes the culture, traditions and oral history of communities of northwestern Spain.

Professors from the Department of Contemporary History at the University of the Basque Country extended support to the group. And anthropologists from the University of Leon invited them to tour the campus and explore ways for the two universities to collaborate in various disciplines, especially social sciences, biology and Spanish.

“We are proud to make CSUMB present in this part of the world and of the very positive impact that the presence of the group is having in the communities we visited,” Dr. Gutierrez said.

The trip had a positive impact on the students as well.

Said Thomas: “I learned to define my life on more substantial grounds. Not by my income . . . , but by the relationships I have with others.”

To learn more about the program, contact Dr. Gutierrez or the Office of International Programs.

Photo: Students listen to a lecture at the paleoanthropological site of Atapuerca in Burgos. Photo courtesy of Dr. Gutierrez