By Olivia Koepp and Akeim Thames
From Nov. 13-17, Samford University hosted events for its annual International Education Week. As part of IEW, the Spanish Club held a Spanish Worship night to allow students to worship through a different culture.
Many students were invited by their friends and professors to support and learn more about the culture.
Sarah Westmoreland, a senior math and Spanish major, serves as the president of the Spanish Club, president of the Spanish Honor Society and an International Ambassador with the Global Engagement Office.
“I get to serve our international students and work with the office to plan events to increase global competency here on campus,” said Westmoreland.
Music and faith are an important part of Westmoreland’s story.
“Worship is something that has always been so central to my story and to do it in Spanish has come to mean even more to me- it’s something that I want to share with everyone,” said Westmoreland.
The goal of the Spanish Club is to promote and encourage students on campus. Westmoreland wants to provide others with opportunities to experience Spanish culture.
“We want to showcase the beauty of Spanish and invite people to engage their faith in Spanish even if it is their second language or they feel like they are still learning it,” said Westmoreland.
The entire service was spoken entirely in Spanish to further immerse the students in Spanish culture.
“It is our hope that someone at any level of Spanish would not be overwhelmed by the experience but rather gain an appreciation for the language even as they rely on English cues to understand the finer details,” said Westmoreland.
Westmoreland credited the Spanish Club Vice President Shaun O’Neil, tech leader Bailey Holland and worship leader Jose O’Campo for helping make the event possible.
“I am so grateful for my team – I truly am. It would not be possible without them,” said Westmoreland.
Junior Rafa Figueroa loved the event and said it was very beneficial.
“As a Spanish learner myself, I thought it was good auditory practice. The fact that it was in Spanish was important because it shows Samford’s diverse side,” said Figueroa.
Senior Jessica Connally, an international student from the Arabic-speaking country of Jordan, also attended the event.
“I thought it was great. I think it is always great to incorporate more cultures at Samford and it was an opportunity for those who do speak Spanish to share their culture,” said Connally. “I think there are a lot of similarities between the Hispanic culture and my culture, and I think the people are always so welcoming.”
Freshman Johnnie Jones Jr. fully immersed himself in the new culture.
“I had a good experience with it. I really appreciate bringing their culture to Samford’s campus and broaden my horizons and let me experience something I had not had the chance to experience,” said Jones
Members of the Spanish Club said they hope that Spanish Worship night becomes more than a one-time event and instead becomes a weekly occurrence.
“By recognizing and celebrating diverse people, communities and languages we are better able to see the fullness of God’s triune form. God’s unity is strengthened by His diversity,” said Westmoreland.