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My experience as a Rothkopf Scholar this summer. By Lindsay Gonzalez ’09

Lindsay Gonzalez ’09 (Towanda, Pa.), a double major in English and art, spent two weeks in Spain where she and four of her fellow junior art majors studied Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Spanish art and architecture as part of the Rothkopf Scholars Program.

  • Rothkoph Scholars Study Religious Art of Spain

Of the rewards resulting from the opportunities Lafayette College offers and challenges its students to take, I cannot imagine a greater gift than the knowledge and experience I have gained from the Rothkopf Scholarship trip to Spain. Professor Lynette Bosch and her husband Charles Burroughs used their expertise on art and architecture to escort my five-student group to five different cities in just 12 days. Whether we were dining at a cafe that Picasso previously frequented in Barcelona or gawking at a view of “La Alhambra,” having the professors’ brains readily available to pick made 12 days of touring Spain priceless.

While I cannot deny how utterly exhausted and droopy-eyed I was after visiting numerous museums back-to-back, listening to lectures, and soaking bits of history into my visually overloaded brain, I also cannot deny the excitement I felt with each site we explored.

My list of favorites from the trip would exhaust you. In fact, when writing highlights of my experience upon arriving home, I found myself recalling the trip in chronological order, piece by piece, leaving nothing out. One aspect of the experience does, however, stand above all the others: learning about my family’s history.

My grandparents met while they were young in New York. It was not until a few years after my grandfather’s parents died that they were able to visit Spain together. They discovered books in a Catholic church confirming a theory that my grandfather’s family had converted from Judaism to Catholicism centuries before when Spanish rulers first began forcing non-Catholics to either convert, leave, or die.

My grandmother grew up haunted by the Holocaust, creating theories in her head to try to explain what plagued the minds of the Nazis who slaughtered most of her family. When my grandfather converted to the Jewish faith after spending most of his life as a Catholic, his family shunned him. Traveling to Spain helped my grandparents understand that his family shunned him out of fear, not hate. The same fear struck both sides of my family a few centuries apart. In Spain, my grandparents found solace.

My grandmother and my late grandfather, like to the rest of my immediate and extended family members, have always taken a deep interest in the passions of one another. With every step I take in my collegiate career toward my future, my family follows.

Going to Spain and learning the history of how my family got its name was perhaps the most important event in my grandparents’ lives, and is now an unforgettable and invaluable tradition. I am thankful to Lafayette and the Rothkopf family for showing me so much of Spain and so much of myself.

Gonzalez has also taken advantage of Lafayette’s focus on close student-faculty interaction and undergraduate research. She worked as an EXCEL Scholar with Curlee Holton, professor and head of art, on a number of projects at the College’s Experimental Printmaking Institute. She also took advantage of Lafayette’s close proximity to New York City serving a summer internship with independent filmmaker Bill Hayward ’65.

  • Study Abroad
  • EXCEL/Undergraduate Research
  • Our Proximity Advantage: New York City internships and externships are a part of the unique Lafayette student experience
  • Art
  • English
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