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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Alumni Postcards: Dylan Bryant ’20

Bryant has spent the academic year teaching in La Rioja, Spain.

April 23, 2021, by Dan Bernardi

Dylan Bryant in La Rioja
Dylan Bryant on the terrace of his apartment in La Rioja, Spain.

Editor's note: Alumni Postcards is an occasional series spotlighting where members of our worldwide A&S family are studying, living, working and researching. To share where you are and what you are up to, email us at ASNews@syr.edu.

Sender:

Dylan Bryant ’20 double majored in Spanish, and English and textual studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, and minored in education studies in the School of Education.

Greetings from La Rioja...

After graduating from Syracuse University in 2020, Bryant put pandemic uncertainty aside and applied and was accepted to the North American Language and Culture Assistants in Spain program. It offers recipients the opportunity to experience the culture of Spain by becoming a local, while sharing the language and culture of the United States with students in Spain. Bryant arrived in October 2020 to La Rioja, a province in northern Spain, where he is teaching the English language to local K-12 students.

Bryant plans to stay in Europe after he completes the language and cultural assistants program and participate in an English as Second Language (ESL) summer camp in Italy.

He recently reflected on his experiences so far.

Dylan Bryant on Monte Cantabria
Dylan Bryant on Monte Cantabria, just outside of Logroño, Spain, during a rare snowfall.

How has the pandemic affected your teaching experience in Spain?

The teaching experience amid Covid has been challenging. We have been in-person the whole time, which is a bit of an outlier in the broader scale of the European Union. From an education standpoint, we have to maintain distance with the students, so it is quite challenging doing group activities or lessons with kinesthetic elements, where students carry out physical or tactile activities to learn. On top of that, it has made learning students' names nearly impossible, which seems like a small detail but definitely contributes to the educational experience.

Was it difficult to adapt to living in another country, particularly during COVID?

It wasn't too challenging to adjust. I studied in Santiago, Chile, for a semester. That was a sort of trial run with living abroad, since I had a host family then, but I don't here. Some cultural differences were challenging in the beginning, since physically I tend to stand out in my city. Of course, the pandemic makes it challenging to connect with people in the community here, but that's not limited to Spain by any means.

Mountaintop near La Rioja
A photo captured by Dylan Bryant from a mountaintop near La Rioja, Spain.

What do you like most about your time in the North American Language and Culture Assistants program?

My favorite part of the program is the engagement! Working with the students is always such a fun endeavor and collaborating with the teachers in the school gives me a unique perspective on how the Spanish education system differs from the system in the United States.

What’s next?

Once I finish this year, I think I am going to renew in the program for another year. I've had a worthwhile experience, but it feels like I'm missing out on Spain's true colors due to the pandemic, so I'm hoping to get a more traditional experience next year with the emergence of vaccines.