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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Global Youth Service Day & Spanish Community Service Learning

> In the Foreign Language Building at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, we had a very special celebration of Global Youth Service Day. Laura Christiansen (right; Liz Girten, our wonderful student blogger is on the left) received a grant from State Farm and Learn & Serve to organize a program allowing our local refugee and immigrant children to come to the university to teach UIUC students about their cultures. Laura took SPAN 232, studied in Mexico for a semester, did a Spanish & Illinois Summer Internship at the Refugee Center, was hired part-time by the Refugee Center after the internship, is graduating next month, and planning to live and work in Mexico for the next year.



The Refugee Center runs a Saturday morning tutoring program for immigrant and refugee children. During the last few weeks the children have prepared posters with cultural information about their home countries. The UIUC students who attended spent time reading the posters and looking at the drawings and pictures they included. Students came from the Spanish community-based learning classes, other campus service organizations (like APO), students who help run the tutoring program, and friends. The children's posters described the weather in their countries of orgins, what school was like before moving here, their talents, their hobbies, their families, their homes, etc. (Click on the pictures to see a larger version of the photos; you can see some of the poster details that way.)
The children and audience included people from Asian, African and American cultures. I saw a familiar face from the fourth floor of the Foreign Languages Building, a TA who teaches one of the African languages. She came with her daughter. She is studying curriculum and instruction and has been observing the Saturday morning tutoring program for a research project.

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