A visit from the University Alcalá de Henares (Spain) choir has sparked new connections for students of Spanish language, at the University of Cape Town. The two-day visit to UCT was part of a longer country-wide tour of South Africa which took place from 18 to 31 August. The tour was facilitated by the Spanish language section of the UCT School of Languages and Literature, in collaboration with the Spanish General Consulate of Spain in Cape Town.
Founded in 1293, the University Alcalá de Henares (UAH) is one of the oldest universities in Spain and is renowned for its annual presentation of the Miguel de Cervantes Prize, one of the richest literary prizes in the world recognising an outstanding writer in the Spanish language. UAH is located in the beautiful city of Alcalá de Henares, the brithplace of Miguel de Cervantes, and the university is acknowledged as a global centre for studies of Cervantes and his works, mainly Don Quixote.
As part of the visit to UCT, the UAH choir performed songs in Catalan, Galician, Euskara and in Spanish honouring the folklore of the different regions of the country. UCT Spanish lecturer Maria Recuenco Penalver says that the visit was not only about music but that it also enabled important connections between the two institutions that could open doors to future academic partnerships. “Our first and second year Spanish language students, for whom the performance was intended, not only enjoyed the musical treat but also had the opportunity to learn more about University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH) and to engage with the visitors following the performance,” said Recuenco. On the second day of the visit, the choir shared the stage with the UCT Choir at Hiddingh Hall. The two-hour concert was followed by traditional Spanish snacks and networking.
The 14-day tour of South Africa saw the UAH Choir perform with the Drakensberg Boys Choir, the University of Fort Hare choir at the East London Campus and with the Tiggerberg Boys Choir in Paarl. The visit to South Africa concluded with a performance for Spanish language students of the University of Pretoria. “Although there are as yet no specific academic collaborations between UCT and UAH, we hope to connect through Alcalingua, their centre for teaching Spanish and training teachers of Spanish as a Foreign Language. Alcalingua has agreements with over thirty universities and institutions worldwide and they have expressed a desire to engage with us on this initiative in the near future,” said Recuenco.
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