TTU Center in Sevilla Alumni Reunion Recap
It has been twenty years since the Texas Tech Center in Sevilla opened its doors to students and faculty members who were looking for a truly immersive study abroad experience. To celebrate this significant milestone, the Center staff organized the first-ever alumni reunion trip in November so that former participants could have the chance to return to Sevilla, recall their personal experiences, reunite with other former attendees, faculty and host family members, and create new memories in Spain.
The celebration started on Sunday, November 6, with a welcome reception held on the rooftop of Hotel Fernando III, the same hotel used for the past 20 years of in-country orientations. Our guests mingled and learned about each other's experiences with breathtaking views of the largest gothic cathedral in the world and its bell tower, The Giralda, providing a beautiful backdrop.
Monday, November 7, participants chose one of two walking tours. The first option was to the historic neighborhood of Triana, known for its connection to the flamenco and pottery making traditions, and for its emblematic views of the Guadalquivir River. The other option was to visit Barrio Santa Cruz, the area that used to be the Jewish quarter of the city of Sevilla. They learned about the rich history, music and traditions of the Sephardic Jews and their relationship to “Las Tres Culturas” (Jewish, Muslim, and Christian) who coexisted and prospered in peace for many centuries.
That same afternoon, the 20 Year Anniversary Recognition Ceremony took place at the Center where the founders and special contributors were honored. Guests were later able to mix and mingle over refreshments with current students and chat about their shared experiences.
On Tuesday, November 8, participants made a quick visit to Italica, a Roman city that dates back to the second century BCE, located just a few miles north of Sevilla. Founded in 206 BCE by Publius Cornelius Scipio during the Second Carthaginian War as a settlement for his veterans, Italica was also the birthplace of the Roman emperors Trajan and Hadrian. Our guests could admire its impressive amphitheater, the third largest in the Roman Empire, that seated close to 25,000 spectators! The visit concluded with a meal served at a nearby restaurant famous for its delicious Iberian pork steak. Host families of alumni participants were also invited to join us this day, so for some it was a special emotional reunion with their Spanish “family.”
After lunch, participants chose between two interesting cultural activities: an artisan tile workshop or flamenco sevillanas dancing. During the tile workshop, Julio, a local tile artist, gave a short history lesson about the importance of tiles in the culture of the city. He explained how tile work is a fundamental part of its architectural legacy and can be found everywhere decorating some of the most representative monuments of Sevilla, contributing to the visual richness of the city. Participants painted a tile with the same technique used here in Sevilla for centuries and then were able to bring it home after the firing process.
Instead of the tile workshop, some participants chose to learn to dance “Sevillanas” with Sylvia, a local teacher who is a professional dancer. “Sevillanas” is a flamenco inspired dance typical from Sevilla that is danced in pairs accompanied by instruments such as the Spanish guitar and castanets. It's very popular locally and danced at local fairs, social events, and celebrations.
Wednesday was a free day for participants to rest or fit in a daytrip to a nearby city such as Córdoba.
Then on Thursday, the group headed to Jerez de la Frontera, a charming city one hour away from Sevilla. They visited the Real Escuela Ecuestre Andaluza, The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, an institution devoted to the preservation of the equestrian arts in the Spanish tradition that is considered one of the most prestigious classical riding academies in the world. There they had a guided tour through the palace and the school where they maintain the classical traditions of Spanish baroque horsemanship. After a visit to the Museum of Equestrian Art, they all enjoyed the show, “How the Andalusian Horses Dance,” an equestrian ballet accompanied by Spanish music and 18th century styled costumes.
The event concluded with a meal and a tour of the facilities of the Gonzalez-Byass winery, one of the most prestigious and well-known sherry wineries in the world. Its most emblematic wine is Tío Pepe, known worldwide due to its iconic logo.
The TTU Center in Sevilla was honored to host this Alumni Reunion trip where participants were able to return to the city that was once their home, see some old faces and meet some new friends. We at the Center are very grateful for these memorable days and sincerely hope our guests were able to reminisce on old experiences while creating new life-long memories in the city for which we all share a special love: Sevilla.
Learn more about the TTU Center in Sevilla, Spain.