Saturday, December 13, 2008

Difficult Events in Community Members' Lives are Part of Spanish Community-based Learning

Lately I have been reconnecting on Facebook with a lot of my childhood friends and reminiscing about how much fun I had as a child. High school had it's difficult moments, of course, but mostly I just had a lot of fun learning, participating in school activities and getting together with my friends.

But school isn't all fun for everyone.

That's why an e-mail this week from one of our Spanish CBL students struck me as particularly problematic. Their assignment in class was to write a thank-you note to one of the people they worked with in the community. Obviously this student wrote to one of a student she worked with. Here is what she wrote later to her TA (with no identifying information included):

"I wanted to thank you for a great semester. I really enjoyed your class and enjoyed having you as a teacher. I just wanted to let you know that you don't need to deliver my message I wrote to a certain student at [X school]. It is interesting how you told us at the beginning of the semester that sometimes things will happen to your students that you form a friendship with. The past two times I have gone to [X school], a student named X was not there. I noticed because he is the one who I was able to get to know the best. Yesterday I asked his friends where he has been, assuming he has just been sick. They said he was in trouble with the police and was not going to return to school. I was not sure exactly what kind of trouble he had been in, but they said he might be deported back to Mexico. This situation made the objective of this class really come alive for me. We were to learn about the Hispanic community in all different aspects. It is really hard to accept that one second they can be living a happy life here, and the next they could be sent back to Mexico. I just wanted to let you know about this story, and also thank you for everything."

The TA responded with an e-mail that both acknowledged her personal feelings and put them in the context of working in the community.

Spanish CBL teaches students about the real world, and the real world isn't always warm and fuzzy.


  1. The situation this student describes has been repeated with frightening frequency in certain parts of North Carolina where a federal law (287G) designed to deport convicted felons is being used to deport anyone without proper identification--the legal pretense most often being a traffic stop (or other such misdemeanors that would result in a fine--at worst--for the rest of us).

    One of the most heart-wrenching stories is of a mother pulled over on an interstate at night and taken into custody while her three children were left in the car at the side of the road in the care of an adult passenger who fled the scene fearing he'd be processed for deportation as well if he stayed.

  2. Wow! That is aboslutely terrible. Those poor kids--and mother. Things are really messed up if these are the consequences.