UW News

November 16, 2006

Cervantes Institute comes to the UW

It can’t bring Seattle any sun from Salamanca, but a Cervantes Institute, which opened this fall at the University of Washington, promises culture from Spain and Latin America plus online Spanish courses.

The institute is a partnership between the UW and the Spanish government, part of the government’s cultural and linguistic outreach. As an aula, or smaller version of the typical Cervantes Institute, the center is a pilot project, the first aula at an American university and the first Cervantes Institute on the West coast.

“It’s part of a larger strategy to increase outreach on campus and in the larger community,” said Tony Geist, chairman of the Division of Spanish and Portuguese. “We want to promote cultural events from Spain and Latin America as a way of inviting the Seattle community onto campus.” The UW aula, one of nine worldwide, is a new model for expanding the institute, Geist said.

He and Luis Fernando Esteban, the Spanish vice-consul in Seattle, were instrumental in bringing the institute to the university. Jose Ignacio Callen, a specialist in teaching Spanish, is the director.

A lecture or exhibit in January will mark official opening, but in the meantime, the institute co-sponsored an exhibit earlier this month in Odegaard Undergraduate Library. “Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939” consisted of 20 easel-mounted panels showing the work of photographers such as Robert Capa, and writers such as Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell and John Dos Passos.

The center’s online Spanish instruction is part of second-year Spanish classes at UW. Actually, the courses are Cervantes’ pilot effort in higher education, according to Kristee Boehm, a  lecturer who coordinates UW’s second-year Spanish program.

The classes are also available to outside subscribers: $32 for a three-month course (http://ave.cervantes.es/ing.htm). The institute would eventually like its courses offered at Seattle area companies, Callen said.

Founded in 1991, the Cervantes Institute is similar to other cultural centers like the Alliance Francaise organized by the French government and the Goethe Institute organized by the German one. Along with its Seattle center, the Cervantes Institute operates centers in New York, Chicago and Albuquerque.


For more information, contact:

Tony Geist, Spanish and Portuguese Studies, tgeist@u.washington.edu  or (206) 543-2022.

Jose Ignacio Callen, the Cervantes Institute, icervsea@u.washington.edu or (206) 616-8464.