Fulbright recipient staging a comeback for her pandemic-shortened study abroad stint in Spain

Northeastern student Amanda Brea poses for a portrait in Centennial Common. Brea is a Fulbright recipient who will be traveling to Spain to teach English. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

Amanda Brea says she has “unfinished business” in Spain after her study abroad program was cut short by the pandemic in 2020. Luckily, she’ll be returning to the country in September to begin a nine-month teaching position funded by the U.S. Fulbright Student Program

Brea, who will graduate from Northeastern this spring with a degree in theater and marketing, will leave for the Canary Islands this fall to begin teaching English. All living and travel expenses will be covered by the Fulbright grant. 

Brea has had an interest in Spain since freshman year of college when she first read a play by the Spanish playwright Federico García Lorca. 

“I knew the translation of his work didn’t convey the rhythm and tone that’s unique to the Spanish language,” she says. “I knew I was missing something by not reading the play in its original language, and that ignited my passion to learn Spanish.” 

Brea, who is half Argentinian, says she didn’t grow up speaking Spanish even though her father is fluent. “My mom doesn’t speak Spanish, so we didn’t speak it at home,” she says. Now, she says she’s determined to learn the language and reconnect with her Argentinian roots. 

While in Spain, Brea hopes to tap into the local theater community when she’s not occupied with her teaching job. The last time she went to Spain for her study abroad program, Brea got a list of theater contacts from Antonio Ocampo-Guzman, the chair of the Department of Theater at Northeastern, who has an extensive network of acquaintances in the area. 

“Last time I was in Spain, I was able to join a theater troupe and meet some Spanish theater students,” she says. “Hopefully I can continue where I left off because I really want that cross-cultural perspective in my art.” 

While Brea doesn’t have a background teaching English specifically, she does have a long history of teaching theater at a summer camp in her hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut. For the past seven years, Brea has directed and produced musicals with children ages 7 to 14. 

“I work with the ensembles doing team building exercises and helping them work up their confidence,” she says. “It’s something I love doing. I look forward to it every summer.” 

Brea says she learned these skills from the woman who runs the theater program. “I’ve known her since I was 6 years old,” she says. “She’s like a second mom to me, so hopefully I can pass on what she’s taught me.” 

Additionally, Brea has experience mentoring with Los Huskies Mentors Program, which used to be part of Northeastern’s Latinx Student Cultural Center, and she plans to meld her background as a theater teacher with her skills as a mentor in her new position as an English teacher. 

In Spain, Brea will also be required to participate in a community service project. She plans to facilitate public speaking classes for people in the community, particularly for marginalized groups who, she hopes, can use these skills to advocate for positive change. 

“I didn’t initially believe this was something I was capable of doing,” she says. “But I think my interdisciplinary background at Northeastern will benefit me in this teaching role. Theater is a form of communication, and hopefully I can translate that knowledge into my teaching practice.” 

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