By LAURA TAYLOR
Imagine traveling to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where locals carry around little leather water carriers with herbs. Hot water is poured into the leather carrier and a hot tea is produced. This mate, as it is called, is prevalent in all aspects of Argentinian life from professional meetings to strolls along the street.
For Jose Sainz, director of the Center for International Education and associate professor of Spanish, venturing abroad allows him to experience simple cultural norms that leave him desiring a connection with the culture and people even more.
“The first time I had mate was with a group of people I had just met,” said Sainz. “As a way to welcome in a person into this meeting we were having, the host brought some cookies and some sweets and then brought some mate to make. Once they made it, they took a sip and passed it to the next person and I was not ready for that.”
When it comes to dream locations for work and leisure, Europe is the ideal spot.
“If the travel is for business, England is the dream location,” said Sainz. “If it is for vacation then anywhere in Spain.”
Traveling around the world has allowed Sainz many opportunities to create programs for students, experience culture norms people have no idea about, and provide him with new connections that he hopes will last a lifetime.
“The part I like the most is to make those connections with other cultures and other peoples,” said Sainz. “I also like creating opportunities for students to then take advantage of those connections.”
Although Sainz travels mostly for business with the study abroad program at the University of Mary Washington and recruiting international students to study in the United States at UMW, he continues making connections which he turns into opportunities for students. One of his new programs is an exchange nursing program abroad.
“We just started an exchange program in Japan that was two years in the making,” said Sainz. “There is always some interest in participating in a bilateral exchange.”
Sainz has also been working on developing other short-term programs with connections across the world.
“This program is geared towards pre-med students where they can go abroad for four, five, six weeks,” said Sainz. “They can shadow doctors in a foreign country. This will provide them the opportunity to learn about medicine in country, medical prognosis, medical ethics, prescription policy, and patient care guidelines.”
Making these programs could not have been possible without hard work and an effort to keep the communication between the two parties consistent.
“It’s like long distance dating,” said Sainz. “You have to make an effort. Making the effort to have the face to face interaction by dedicating personal time to the relationships is what ultimately make these kinds of programs possible.”