Spain #9: The People

Matt Popkin (’19) and Sam Crocker (’19) reflect on the powerful memories and connections they have created while in Spain.

Part I Matt Popkin (2019)

It was an eventful day – to be sure – but, as always, we had a great time. In the morning, we visited the town of Alba De Tormes which is the final resting place of St. Teresa. After spending so much time focused on the story and legacy of St. Teresa, to finally be physically close to her was surreal in a lot of ways. I’m personally thankful that I was able to see how being near the Saint affected those on the trip of the Catholic persuasion. Looking at them, being overcome with emotion and faith, was something I had never quite seen before. I’ll always be thankful that I was able to witness such a special moment in the lives of some truly wonderful folks. My favorite part of Alba De Tormes, however, was not seeing the remains of the Saint, but eating pastries in the town square and sitting on the park bench with Mr. Taft. These moments of connection are so special and unique to this trip and I cherish each and every one of them. For me, sitting on that bench in this corner of the world far from home was just as powerful as being in any church, synagogue, or mosque. In that moment the connection between myself, my newfound brothers and sisters, and the energy that binds us all was in perfect harmony.  Call it what you like, but in that moment, I felt truly at peace. I think at Deerfield peace can sometimes be hard to find, but I could sit on that bench for a hundred years and be happy. As my time on this trip comes to an end, I’m just so thankful that I found this peace with these people in this place. It has been truly wonderful.

Part II by Sam Crocker (2019)

After Alba De Tormes, we drove to a city called Salamanca, home to not only the oldest university in Spain, but also one of the oldest in all of Europe, as it was founded in 1134. In Salamanca we listened to a presentation about the history of the town, which dates back to the Celtic era. Afterwards we had a walking tour of the city. It was alive with activity in all directions, from the university students relaxing in the park, to musicians playing at outdoor cafes. We saw small plazas, one huge plaza, Romanico and Gothic style cathedrals (one was partially leaning, thanks to a massive earthquake that took place a year after its construction was finished), and hidden, shady gardens overlooking the terracotta roofs of the city. Personally, my favorite part of the visit came right after we split up into small groups to explore the city on our own as we looked for places to have lunch. Despite all dispersing in different directions to survey different parts of the old city, somehow we all wound up back together after only about half an hour. We spent most of the rest of our free time talking and laughing together. I think this is a really apt snapshot of the dynamic of the trip as a whole. We all come from different backgrounds, carry different experiences, and share varying interests. But somehow, all our personalities seem to have come together perfectly. It’s one of the best groups I’ve ever been a part of. As we ready ourselves to say goodbye to Spain, I think I speak for everyone when I say that it was the people that made the trip what it was: incredible.

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