Sunday, April 5, 2009

Spanish Community Service Learning Anecdote 7

by Ann Abbott

When I talked to my Spanish & Entrepreneurship students about fundraising letters, I based my presentation on Tom Ahern's How to Write Fundraising Materials That Raise More Money.

The anecdote pulled from this student's letter shows two things Ahern emphasizes:
  1. Link accomplishment to need. "[C]elebrate your triumphs," Ahern writes. "But always leave room for accomplishing more, if only you had more resources" (60). For foreign language instructors, it may be intellectually difficult for you to put the needs of an underserved population at the center of a "sob story." But for these organizations that are on-the-ground, serving them and strapped for resources, they need to create a desire within the donor to give of his or her time or money.
  2. Find your emotional twin set. A twin set is a pair of emotional poles, like fear and hope. The fear here is Luis will be put back a year; the hope is that you will volunteer your time to read with him so that he won't fall behind.
Luis is a fifth grader at Leal Elementary School in Urbana. His parents are Mexican immigrants that moved here with the hopes of giving Luis a better life. As a student in the bilingual program at Leal, Luis spends his school days speaking both Spanish and English and trying to learn all of his subjects in both languages. Because his class ratio is twenty students to one teacher, Luis struggles with reading since there is simply not enough time for the teacher to listen to all of the students read one by one. Luis faces the risk of being held back a year just because his reading abilities are slipping due to the school’s lack of resources. However, this injustice can be fixed.

As a volunteer at Leal Elementary School, I help kids like Luis not only maintain their reading skills but also improve them by spending one-on-one time with the students during the school day helping them read. ... That is why there is such a high demand for volunteers at Leal because without them the students could lose the reading skills that they worked so hard to attain in the first place. Please consider being a tutor at this great school.

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