Monday, March 30, 2009

Spring Break: For Some Students It's a Chance to Continue with Spanish in the Community

Ann Abbott

Sevgi Sipahi is a current student in "Spanish in the Community." During spring break she traveled to Latin America to do some good work. Here are her words:

Over spring break I did a medical mission with the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC) in El Salvador. We worked in a clinic in a small community, Las Delicias, just outside of San Salvador. Our time was split up between doing work in the clinic, making house calls with the nurse, and checking the conditions of the homes with a program director. The nurse did not speak english and I was the only one in my small group who could speak spanish, so I had to translate for the other volunteers, and I also had the opportunity to interact with the community members. There is a school in Las Delicias that has about 400 students. We gave presentations on the causes of parasites as well as ways to prevent parasites. At the end of our presentation we administered anti-parasitic medication. The presentations were all in Spanish, and we had the chance to interact with the students during recess.

I applaud Sevgi's interactions with the community and her choice to use spring break as a way to travel and engage with important issues at the same time. Her experience brings some questions to mind:
  1. Does SPAN 232 "Spanish in the Community" help prepare students for international service work?
  2. How can students who go abroad to do this kind of work contribute to the curriculum of SPAN 232 so that all students can learn what they learned?
  3. What cultural insights to students gain on trips like this that they can then apply to their work here at home?
  4. Do students see any problems with the international "mission" work that they are involved in? For example, do they think the programs ever impose their own cultural assumptions on to the culture they are helping?
Leave a comment if you have any answers to these questions. Or if you have more questions! And take a look at the pictures that Sevgi has posted here and here.

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