Posted: December 21, 2009
By Madgalena Georgieva '10
Flamenco dancing and legends of Don Juan and Carmen captured Zilin Cui '11 during her summer in Seville, Spain, where she interned with the Center for Cross-Cultural Studies (CC-CS). As a study abroad program assistant, Cui embraced the Spanish culture and helped other students create similarly vivid memories.
"Part of integrating in a new culture is that you need to have an open mind and let your assumptions, whether they are cultural, political, or national, be challenged," said Cui, who has a double major in economics and Spanish.
The CC-CS internship, sponsored by the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives, gave Cui the opportunity to "see the world differently." She immersed herself in the Spanish-speaking environment, honed her language skills, and became aware of different Spanish dialects and cultural dynamics.
At the CC-CS, Cui assisted the administration and management departments with cultural activity preparation and academic coordination. Specifically, she got involved in the design of promotional program pamphlets.
"It was a good learning experience, and it helped me think from the perspective of an organization," she said.
The highlight of the internship, Cui remembers, was when she helped organize a flamenco reception for the National Society of Hispanic and Latino Studies. More than 200 people attended the event.
"I got involved in planning and welcoming the guests, and stayed at the center until midnight when the staff and I had a champagne party," she said. "The CC-CS staff made me feel like part of the team."
In August, the last month of her internship, Cui joined the CC-CS office in Amherst, where she revamped the Web site, worked on content development, conducted market research, and devised marketing and development strategies.
Her mind, however, remained fixed on the Spanish-speaking culture. No wonder, then, that in spring 2010 Cui will be studying abroad in Chile.