Spanish community service-learning students working in a health-care facility always makes me nervous. Is their Spanish really good enough? Do they understand cultural nuances well enough? Should they take an introductory course on translation theory before they can work in a clinic?
On the other hand, our community partners and the Latinas/os they serve are often in desperate need of language assistance. Too few certified translators are available in this area, and the costs can simply be out of reach for some organizations and individuals. If our students don't lend a hand, children might end up translating for adults, leading to a number of ethical and familial problems. (See this piece on general issues; this piece on language brokering; and this piece on children interpreters.)
Nicholas Ludmer has convinced me that Spanish community-service learning students can work in a health care facility effectively, because he has.
Here are a list of a few of Nicholas' accomplishments:
- He took "Spanish in the Community" and worked in one of the bilingual classrooms at Booker T. Washington School.
- The following semester he did his James Scholars Honors project in a different Spanish course by continuing to work at Booker T. Washington and sending me his reflective essays.
- He took "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" with me this spring and did his community service learning work at Frances Nelson Health Center, a free clinic that our local Latino community relies heavily upon. I'd also like to point out that his reflective essays were little joyas. Whereas some students write and reflect well, you can tell that they're just completing an assignment. Nick went beyond the mere requirements and wrote essays that caused me to pause and think myself.
- For his honors project for this course he prepared materials that would help future Spanish community-service learning students work effectively at the same clinic. There are hundreds of vocabulary lists of medical terms, but I like the fact that Nick created a list that is contextualized; these are terms that he has used at the clinic. In the future, I'd like students who work there to expand on this list by listing phrases or common commands that they use on the job. Nick's document is a great starting point.
- He was chosen as one of the University of Illinois' Senior 100 Honorary. (I didn't even know this. Congratulations, Nick; you are too humble.)
- Nick is a social entrepreneur himself. He is one of the founders of The Illini 4000, a team that bicycles across the US to raise money for cancer research. In the photo above, you can see that Nick (on the left) was instrumental in raising $50,000 in one year for cancer research. See the video below about their goals and their first trip. Nick is in the voice-over as well as the images.
Good luck, Nick, in all that you do!