Monday, September 14, 2009

Describe Your Community Service Learning Program in Five Sentences

by Ann Abbott

I recently was challenged to describe one of my Spanish community service learning (CSL) courses in five sentences. I wondered how I could do that when I seem to write an infinite number of blog posts about them! So, I tried to to not complicate things too much and came up with the five sentences below. They're long sentences, but they are five. Can you describe yours in a few sentences? A few words? With one picture? In a 30-second video?

In SPAN 332, "Spanish & Entrepreneurship," students spend their time in the classroom learning about the theories of social entrepreneurship and how to build sustainable non-profits in culturally-appropriate ways. They also spend 28 hours (that's about 800 volunteer hours, total) working with a local non-profit that serves Champaign-Urbana's sizeable Latina/o population. They use their Spanish skills to help non-profits (schools, social service agencies, clinics and youth organizations) achieve their missions and enhance their services to their Spanish-speaking constituents; some organizations have been able to serve Spanish-speakers for the very first time because of our students. Local Latinas/os receive services in their own language, and our students benefit by improving their Spanish, learning first-hand about Latino cultures and observing what happens when the theories of social entrepreneurship come up against reality. Eight to ten students go on to hold a summer internship anywhere in Illinois in business related sites (Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, College of DuPage's SBDC, ACCION Chicago) or grass-roots non-profits (Gads Hill Center, La Voz Latina of Rockford, the Refugee Center in Urbana, and more).

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