Happy Birthday, International Institute!

On December 5, the celebrations of the 125th anniversary of the International Institute began. This day marks the 125th anniversary of the Institute's incorporation into the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and to celebrate we brought together the people of the "house", the group that works at the Institute, including the Stanford, Syracuse, USC and Boston University programs, in addition to some former students, teachers and employees.

It was a moment not only to celebrate our history, but also an opportunity to put into context the daily work we do as part of something much larger than it may seem at times. It was about recalling the vision with which the International Institute was born precisely on that day, December 5, and which can perhaps be summed up in this idea: the conviction of the power of education to advance society and the individual in particular. This conviction continues today as the backbone of the Institute's activity and projects its mission into the future.

This vision has been supported at all times by a great capacity to adapt to the needs of Spanish society, which is why the Institute can be proud to show an unusual continuity in Spain, where it is not easy to find secular educational institutions or cultural centers so long-lived The International Institute precedes any of the foreign cultural centers in Spain, it has survived four wars -including one between Spain and the US-, a long dictatorship, the economic difficulties of the institution itself, and substantial social changes in Spain and the United States.

A quick look at the history of the Institute shows how this vision has materialized. Founded as the International Institute for Girls in Spain, it was a pioneering institution in its support of Spanish women's access to higher education, a field in which it quickly achieved notable successes. During the first third of the 50th century, it cooperated with the Spanish reform movements that, inspired by institutionalist thinking, considered education to be the most effective instrument for modernizing society. It was in those years that the Institute received the first Study Abroad program to arrive in Spain, that of Smith College, which would pave the way for the programs that continue at the Institute today. Starting in the 60s, the International Institute became a meeting point for those heirs to the liberal tradition and democratic circles in Spain from the XNUMXs to the Transition. Simultaneously, the expansion in the XNUMXs and XNUMXs of Hispanic studies in the United States had its immediate reflection in the International Institute, where different North American universities would come to establish their headquarters. As a result of all this, thousands of North American university students have been trained and continue to do so in the Institute's classrooms.

Over the last few years, the Institute has become the North American cultural center in Madrid, approaching the people of Madrid through a renewed North American Language and Culture Program and together with American Space Madrid, offering intense programming for all ages. At the same time, it deepens its ties with Spanish society by developing institutional relationships and consolidating the community of users it serves. On these solid foundations, the Institute projects its future to continue being a privileged bridge for the exchange of ideas, transfer of knowledge and good practices between Spanish and North American society.

Pilar Piñón, whose words are reflected in this article, and Laura Turner, who presented the work of American Space Madrid and thanked the University Programs for their collaboration, took part in the celebration. Kayetan Adamski, from the English Department, acted as photographer for the occasion, and the decoration with dozens of multicolored balloons was by María Díaz. As is customary on any birthday worth its salt, there was a beautiful cake with a brand new logo, we blew out the candles, and we all sang “Happy Birthday, Instituto”. We wish 125 more years to the International Institute and very happy holidays to all those who, on both sides of the Atlantic, make the work of the International Institute possible.

Pilar Piñon, December 2017

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