Camino abroad: A Spanish pilgrimage
by Jeff Dodge
Colorado State University students now have yet another option for studying abroad, and it involves participating in one of the most famous pilgrimages in the world.
Faculty in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures have developed a four-week program that includes a trip along the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain.
The Camino pilgrimage, also called the “Way of St. James,” dates back to the Middle Ages and was used by Christians to pay homage to St. James, whose remains are buried in Santiago de Compostela, a city on the west coast of Spain that is the endpoint of the journey.
The new program is designed for beginning or intermediate Spanish speakers and involves two courses: an introduction to the culture and history of the Camino taught in English, and a Spanish-language conversation class dealing with the experience of making the historic trek. Students will spend the first week of the course on the CSU campus, and then they’ll travel to Pamplona, Spain, on May 22. They’ll walk along the Camino Francés, or French Way, the most popular route of the pilgrimage, which attracts more than 200,000 people annually.
Esther Venable, an LLC instructor who helped organize the program, says that after a few days of acclimation, the students will visit Roncesvalles, a Pyrenees mountain town in one of the most beautiful areas along the Camino. They’ll walk to Lagroño, in Spanish wine country, then take a bus or train to Sarria, where they’ll walk the final 100 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela. They’ll stay there for a few days before flying back to Colorado on June 10.
“It’s combining academics with exercise, because you’ll have to walk every day,” Venable said. “It will be a deep cultural experience, because the Camino served as a pathway for art and ideas to spread.”
Venable and LLC Associate Professor Jonathan Carlyon received a grant from CSU’s Education Abroad office to research the site and create the program.
Applications will be accepted from Nov. 1 to Feb. 15 at http://col.st/ejgwi, and students must have at least a 2.5 GPA and instructor approval. For more information, email EducationAbroad@colostate.edu or visit educationabroad.colostate.edu.