The spring semester starts on Monday. The impact that Spanish community service learning will have this semester is very exciting. (It's especially exciting because just three years ago I taught the pilot course of SPAN 232 with only 12 students and 1 community partner.)
- Students from three sources will participate in community service learning: SPAN 232 "Spanish in the Community" students, SPAN 332 "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" students, and students doing an honors project for other Spanish courses.
- Students can choose from amongst 10 community partner organizations, representing a broad spectrum of services, contact possibilities with Spanish-speakers and professional insights for students.
- Over 120 UIUC Spanish students will take their learning outside the confines of the classroom. By working with the local Latino community they will sometimes confirm what they have been taught in other classes and sometimes question it. Native speakers will give them their "tests" in real-world situations: can they understand? be understood? understand the cultural context? They will often teach the teacher, bringing examples of their experiences in the community into classroom discussions and reflective exercises.
- Each student will work 28 hours in the community, learning Spanish, gaining cultural knowledge, better understanding the realities of immigrants and immigration in the US, connecting with a Champaign-Urbana that exists beyond campus, providing a positive image of UIUC to the youth and adults within Champaign-Urbana, and growing in unexpected and exciting ways. This sustained and substantial experiential learning also helps them develop pre-professional skills they can highlight on their resumes and in interviews.
- From January to April, our community partners will receive a total of more than 3,360 hours of our student's time, energy, language skills and other abilities. Students will perform tasks that relieve real pressure points for these organizations.
- Conversely, and just as importantly, our community partners provide a total of more than 3, 360 hours of mentoring and educational opportunities to over 120 UIUC Spanish students.
- Nearly $63,000 represents the economic impact of the students' work with the community partners, calculating the current per hour rate of $18.50 as the "value" of professional volunteers. (Thanks to Julie Healy at BTW for providing me with this perspective!)
My sincere hope is that these numbers do not just represent growth for the Spanish & Illinois program, but that instead they reflect a truly mutually beneficial relationship between students (who learn and grow) and our community partner organizations (who can utilize students' work to better achieve their missions).