Friday, March 20, 2009

Can Rick Steves Teach Us Anything about Spanish Community Service Learning?

Today is the last day of classes before our Spring Break. Many of our Spanish community service learning students will be traveling within the US and abroad during their vacation. ¡Buen viaje! I wish everyone a safe trip and fun experience.

My question today, then, is this: What is the relationship between travel and Spanish community service learning?
  • Do CSL students who have traveled and/or studied abroad, make better Spanish CSL students?
  • Do Spanish CSL students then make better travelers?
Of course I suspect the answer is yes to both questions. If you have ever been "the other" yourself, you probably have a keener insight into how to treat marginalized "others" in your community with respect and diginity. If you have ever been a non-native speaker of the dominant language, you probably go the extra mile to help non-native speakers in your own community. If you've ever worked through the tangle of cross-cultural misunderstandings, you probably transfer that experience and knowledge to your work in a multicultural setting in your home country. And vice versa.

Travel is such a rich, complex and fraught topic, and I love how this interview with Rick Steves tackles it so intelligently. We can learn so much when we travel. And we can also learn so much when we engage deeply with the many cultures that exist within our own communities.

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