Spanish Summer Travel Awards 

Award: $3000 for summer research travel in a Spanish speaking country. (Research can be combined with a short period of study).

  • Be a major or minor in Spanish
  • Be a sophomore or a junior
  • Have completed at least SPA 202 when applying

You need to submit a proposal to the Spanish Department Chair. In your proposal you should describe your research project. Include:

  • Why the project interests you
  • What the main focus of inquiry will be
  • Methodology you will use
  • Contacts you have established in the place in which you will conduct your research
  • Outcome of your research (poster, paper, presentation, etc.)
  • Budget

You need to have at least one advisor that would supervise your project.  Your advisor needs to be from the Spanish Department. If you are interested in doing research from a specific perspective (e.g., Anthropology, Art, Biology, etc.) and you prefer to have an advisor from a different department, you can do so as long as a member of the Spanish Department is a co-adviser.

Both the quality of the application and student's involvement in Spanish activities and department life will be taken into account when selecting the award recipient.

Applications must be received by 4:30 pm on February 22, 2019. 

Application and budget form are available here:

Elizabeth Reed '19, Spanish Major and the winner of the 2018 Spanish Travel Award:

I had the privilege of spending the month of May in Madrid, Spain living with a host family and doing research about Francisco Franco and the Spanish military. My research focussed on identifying the remnants of the Franco era (1939-1975) in the modern Spanish military through interviews and research. Although I expected to find that the general perception of the modern Spanish military is still negativiely influenced by the repressive nature of General Franco, my research and interviews brought me to the conclusion that the Spanish transition to democracy during the late 1970s and 1980s truly did change the way that people think of their military and created a generally more positive military image. 

In addition to research, I also got to live in the heart of Madrid in the Salamanca barrio with my host mom, Virginia, and her two children. I studied abroad in Madrid during the fall of 2017 and even though I couldn't live with my host family from that semester during my summer research, I did get to catch up with my original host family and cook some delicious Spanish tortilla with my host mom, Teresa. I also got to travel outside of Madrid to Zaragoza and Aranjuez for research interviews and cultural exploration. 

I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to learn more about Spanish history and return to my favorite city. It is such a privilage to have two wonderful host families and many friends in Madrid. I am extremely grateful to everyone who made my summer travel possible and I am already looking forward to returning to Madrid someday!  


  • reed in madrid
  • reed with host mom
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Avery Madison '18, Spanish minor and the 2017 winner of the Spanish Tavel Award:

My month in Buenos Aires…

The original project I had proposed for the Summer Travel Award involved conducting interviews and volunteering in both Lancaster and Buenos Aires in order to compare how the two cultures helped people that were dealing with situations of crisis. With the funding from the award, I was going to be able to spend a month in Buenos Aires. I ended up staying with a woman who was very accustomed to helping American students get to know the city. Pini and her two cats had been hosting students for years and actually already had two students living with her when I arrived. She was incredibly sweet and welcoming, and since I was there on my own, without an official program to rely on for support, it was a pleasant surprise to have such a great group of people surrounding me. 

With the help of a psychologist from Buenos Aires, Marcela Gonzalez, I was able to carry out my plan for the project. She helped me set up interviews with different experts that allowed me to understand the culture more thoroughly. It was really thanks to her that the project grew to become what it did: an experience about understanding one culture in its entirety versus trying to make a comparison between the two. 

Although definitely challenging at times, the experience as a whole was incredibly rewarding and unexpected in a great way. I would honestly love to go back and live in Buenos Aires if I ever have the chance in order to gain a deeper understanding of the culture that, thanks to this opportunity, I was able to begin to explore.

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Chengcheng Zhai '18, Spanish major and the 2016 winner of the Spanish Travel Award:

The summer of 2016, I spent two weeks in La Habana, Cuba, a country with an almost 100% literacy rate and a completely free access to colleges. I did a research on Cuban college education and the continuity into the professional working field. I interviewed students form University of Havana about their college experience and their hope and plan for the future. I spent most of my time walking around the city, especially in parks, or places where people sit down to relax so that I could have a more in depth conversation with the local people about their personal experience both as a student and as a professional. I grew up so much from this experience, not just in terms of Spanish conversational ability, but also in terms of maturity. I am now able to start a conversation with a complete stranger and feel no awkwardness. I also became more independent, getting around in the city using a map, ordering food that I actually like, living without Internet, etc. …

Coming from a communist country (China) without actually living a “communist life”, I have always wanted to visit a more communist country like Cuba, which is full of mystery to the outside world. Without this Spanish Department Summer Travel Award, my dream will not have come true at such an early stage in my life.  Thank you! 

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Ryan Sukley '15, Hispanic Cultures minor and the 2012-13 winner of the Spanish Summer Travel Award:

This summer, I travelled to Cochabamba, Bolivia, to study the educational services that nonprofit non-governmental organizations are providing to youths. Bolivia is the poorest country in South America, with an average income of about $2200 per year. Families live in houses they've built themselves, children are forced to work in the streets, and social protests arise in response to extreme income inequalities. As an Economics and Sociology double major, I had an incredible opportunity to expand upon the knowledge I had gained in the classroom by going abroad. I stayed with a host family, interacted with the local population, conducted interviews, and volunteered as an instructor for two NGOs. I worked in schoolhouses and assisted with homework in math, English, social studies and even Spanish grammar and vocabulary. My Spanish improved rapidly, and my eyes were opened to a way of life that I didn’t even know existed when I first arrived at the college. This immersive cultural experience left me with friends that I still speak with regularly, and allowed me to leave the United States for the first time in my life. And none of it would have been possible without the Spanish Summer Research Grant, and support from the Spanish department at F&M!


Hackman  Scholars

Najee Mendes '18 (Spanish/Psychology):

This summer as a Hackman Scholar, I worked with a fellow F&M student and Professor Cox to study the effects of Bilingualism. Our objectives included: meeting with participants to gather data, collecting and transforming numerical data and working with audio transcriptions to code the amounts and the different types of code-switching in these Spanish-English bilinguals. What I enjoyed most about the research was being able to work with a bilingual population. I myself am studying the Spanish language and so being able to work with participants that come from various Spanish-speaking cultures was quite beneficial to my own understanding the diversity in the language itself. 

The most challenging part of the research may have been the coding of the amounts and different types of code-switches. There is a lot of research on different types of code-switches and what should and should not count as switches. However, nothing is perfect when collecting data, so when it came to working on the audio files, there was a lot of agreement to be made pertaining to how we would categorize the types of code-switches we encountered. 

I would particularly recommend this to students like me who have an interest in linguistics and languages studies and want to see firsthand, as opposed to just reading academic journals, the workings of a bilingual mind. 



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Julianna Lynch '17 (Cognitive Science/Psychology):

My experience as a Hackman Scholar with Professor Cox helped me gain a better understanding of how experimental studies operate. I learned how they are carefully set up and designed, how data is collected and sorted, and which statistics make the most sense to use for certain data sets and why. All of this I learned in a low-anxiety setting, which I think facilitated my learning. It's great to be able to work closely with a professor and see how studies are run and then how results are interpreted, or even published. My Hackman summer research experience gave me more confidence in my academic pursuits by exposing me to new things gradually, that I have not formally learned in class yet. I would recommend doing a Hackman in linguistics if you enjoy thinking about language, why people speak in certain ways, how they feel when they speak, and how emotions and memories may influence the language we use.

IQ may drive the relationship between bilingual language experience and language aptitude

When it comes to the language learning aptitude of a bilingual individual, researchers note the linguistic interdependence hypothesis that language and literacy skills can be “transferred” between the languages (Sparks et. al, 2011).  Alongside age of acquisition and exposure, how well a person can use and understand a second or ‘weaker’ language might contribute to their abilities to learn additional languages (Thompson, 2013; Bialystok, 2017). In the current study, twenty-seven Spanish/English bilinguals completed three LLAMA subtests to measure language aptitude. They also completed a Matrices subtest to measure nonverbal IQ and a language background questionnaire for their language experience history. Preliminary tests revealed that higher LLAMA-E scores correlated with higher proficiency in the weaker language. Nonverbal IQ also correlated with all three LLAMA subtests. When controlling for nonverbal IQ, no correlations were significant between any variables, suggesting that nonverbal IQ might be driving the relationship between proficiency and aptitude.