Friday, February 26, 2010

Student Reflection: International Service Learning

by Bridget Kern

Spanish 232 or Spanish in the community interests me very much because it reminds me of a program that I participated in over winter break. In January, I volunteered in Costa Rica and Panama through an organization called International Service Learning. In Costa Rica and Panama I worked as a dental assistant in mobile dental clinics that provided low come people with dental care. Many of the students that were on the trip with me knew little to no Spanish, making it extremely difficult for them to communicate with our patients about their oral health. This experience emphasized my belief that learning Spanish is an extremely beneficial to the community. My average knowledge of Spanish greatly aided the dentists that I worked with as well as our patients in communicating with each other. This made dental procedures, aftercare instructions and asking questions much easier.

My experiences in Costa Rica and Panama are the reason that I believe in Spanish 232. It is very important for people in the community that speak Spanish to be able to communicate and relate their needs to people in their native tongue, because sometimes they lack the words and phrases to express themselves in English. So far I have volunteered with the University of Illinois' Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) once at the Urbana Free Library. In this program an author of a bilingual children’s book reads their story in English and Spanish. The story that was read the weekend I volunteered was about a grandmother’s relationship with her granddaughter. There was one little girl in particular in the audience who understood only parts of the story in English, however, when she heard the story in Spanish her face lit up and I could tell that she knew exactly what emotions and situations the story was trying to convey. Experiences like the ones I have mentioned are reasons why I think programs in Spanish in the community are so important. I am also trying to volunteer at the Refugee Center, and I can’t wait to get started and have another opportunity to use my Spanish to aid people with communication.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Community Partner Spotlight: East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assitance Center

by Ann Abbott

This semester,Kirsten Hope, one of the "Spanish in the Community" TAs will be visiting each of our community partners, just to check in on how things are going and to get a different perspective on their work and our students' work with them.

My very first community partner, and the first one that Kirsten has visited this semester is the East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center (ECIRMAC), also known as the Refugee Center. They offer a myriad of support services for all refugees, asylees and immigrants in our area. Their biggest worry right now is funding (all agencies who depend on support from the State of Illinois are in the same boat), and Kirsten stressed the importance of their upcoming fundraising dinner for Saturday, March 6. Please consider buying tickets or making a donation to ECIRMAC at 302 S. Birch St., Urbana, IL 6180.

Here are Kirsten's words about what she saw and thought when she visited ECIRMAC last week:

"I went to the Refugee Center today! It wasn't exactly what I was expecting. After hearing my former roommate and students talk about it, I expected a spacious office, maybe among a row of other offices or something. When I pulled up to the church, and saw the sign on the door for ECIRMAC, I was, needless to say, surprised. [Click here to see pictures.] When I saw that what I had imagined as a spacious office was really a one-room office with about 5 personnel, I was astounded. I can't believe the amount of work they do with the limited resources they have! I got to meet several of the workers, and, of course, our student volunteer, Ryan Rogowski.

"Ryan told me about the typical duties he has there, and I was so impressed with the work that he and other volunteers do!! By translating official documents, talking to immigrants in their native language or even just accompanying them to meetings, our volunteers are providing an invaluable service. They are really making a difference in the lives of these immigrants. Ryan explained that today he had called several radio stations to ask if they could announce a fundraiser that ECIRMAC is having in early March. One of the other workers explained to me that they are constantly having their funds cut, and are hoping that this fundraiser can help offset those reductions. She emphasized the importance of ECIRMAC, saying that they really are the voice of both the legal and illegal immigrants in the community. It's clear that without this center, so many of these people would simply fall by the wayside.

"Additionally, not only do they speak for the underrepresented, they provide crucial services in the immigrants' native languages, which I'm sure is priceless to the immigrants. Living in the United States, I think it's easy for Americans to forget how comforting it can be to communicate with someone in your native language. The workers at ECIRMAC certainly help to alleviate some of the linguistic stress that I can only imagine local immigrants face. After visiting there, I certainly have a renewed sense of what it means to really reach out to often-overlooked community members. The work that the refugee center does is amazing in itself, and the fact that they do it with the limited funds they have just astounds me! It was really great to meet the personnel and, of course, Ryan!

"I wanted to tell you about the fundraiser that they're having. It's a dinner at St. Pat's Catholic Church (708 Main St, in Urbana).

Thank you, Kirsten, for visiting ECIRMAC. And thanks to all the employees at volunteers at ECIRMAC for the work they do with our foreign-born community members.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

UIUC: Creativity and Innovation in Service-Learning

by Ann Abbott

The Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Illinois puts on an annual Faculty Retreat to focus on teaching excellence and teaching innovation. This year's retreat centered on Keith Sawyer's book, Group Genius.

As a follow-up, Valeri Werpetinski has organized a wonderful reading group connecting Sawyer's ideas to service learning. If you are at or near the University of Illinois, please consider participating. (I had to miss the first meeting, but I will go to the others.) And if you're not in the vicinity, you can always sign up for the Engaged Illinois group on to get all the wonderful information that Valeri provides in that venue.

Here is the information about the reading group:

Creativity and Innovation in Service-Learning

This reading group will meet from 12-1:30 p.m. on Mondays five times throughout the semester (Feb 22, Mar 8, Mar 29, Apr 12, & Apr 26) and will focus on readings and discussion about creativity and innovation in service-learning. As a follow-up to the Annual Faculty Retreat on "Crosscurrents of Creativity in Teaching," the group will use Keith Sawyer's book, Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration as a springboard for conversation about service-learning (and perhaps a bit of action by the Scholarship of Engagement Community). Topics will include

•Course and curriculum innovation via service-learning pedagogy
•Designing and assessing course components to enhance group genius
•Problem-solving and problem-finding tasks in service-learning models
•Creative solutions to actively support service-learning on campus
•Creative collaborations between campus units and with community partners
•Leveraging the Scholarship of Engagement Community as a collaborative web

To register, visit the event calendar on the CTE website

To receive announcements, resources, and updates about the social networking site of the Scholarship of Engagement Community, sign up for the ENGAGEDILLINOIS-L listserv. Send an email message to and in the body of the message type "subscribe ENGAGEDILLINOIS-L"

UIUC: Public Engagement Symposium

by Ann Abbott

Do you recognize any of the spaces presented in this video of Champaign-Urbana? Did you already know the facts it lists? Even though I have lived her for many years, I was still surprised to see the place I thought I know so well be presented in a new way.

I believe that Spanish community service learning (CSL) does the same--it makes you see your community anew.

The director of this video,
Mike Ross, director of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, will speak at UIUC's Public Engagement Symposium on Wednesday, March 3 from 3:00-7:00 at the I-Hotel.

Although my students won't be presenting a poster at this year's symposium, there are several posters that feature CSL activities on our campus.

I hope to see you there.

UIUC: Lecture about Cross-Cultural Medical Interpretation

by Ann Abbott

Many of our Spanish community service learning (CSL) students are interested in health professions, and would like to combine their CSL work with their professional goals. Sending CSL students to translate in a medical setting can be challenging, but it is an area in which we definitely need more curricular materials based on research.

Language proficiency, of course, is one of the most important issues when we send language learners into a clinical setting. However, having a strong understand of the cultural competencies required for the job is equally important.

This upcoming lecture can provide insight into the issues involved in cross cultural medical interpretation, and how we can build CSL experiences and curricular materials that address those issues.

Medical Interpreters in Cross-Cultural Health Care: From Identity Management to
Provider-Interpreter Collaboration
Elaine Hsieh, Ph.D., University of Oklahoma
Tuesday, March 2, 2010, 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.
Music Room (2nd Floor, Levis Center)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Champaign-Urbana: Help Parents Communicate with Teachers at Central High School

by Ann Abbott

Our Spanish community service learning (CSL) students work with ESL students at Central High School. Now we can help those students' parents communicate with the teachers during the upcoming parent-teacher conferences. Please contact Ms. Shmikler directly (contact info below), and log your work on our wiki.

Look on the left side of this blog to find posts that will help prepare you for working at a parent-teacher conference. And please consider leaving a comment on this blog to talk about your experience and encourage other students to volunteer.

Here is the message from Ms. Shmikler:

"Our parent teacher conferences will be on Thursday, March 18 between 5 pm and 8 pm and Friday, March 19 between 8 and noon [at Central High School in Champaign]. Would you mind passing on this information to see if any of your students would be interested in translating?

As always, thanks so much for your help! It is most appreciated!

Michelle Shmikler
Associate Principal's Secretary
Central High School

Monday, February 22, 2010

Nobel Laureate, Muhammad Yunus to speak at UIUC

by Ann Abbott

If you're at or near the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and interested in social entrepreneurship, don't miss Muhammad Yunus' talk on Monday, March 1 at 7:00 p.m. at Foellinger Auditorium.

Before the talk, you can go to the Business Instructional Facility (515 E. Gregory Drive, Champaign) to view posters by students and faculty involved in social entrepreneurship.

Valeri Werpetinski--UIUC's service learning champion and curriculum leader for students in the Social Entrepreneurship Summer Institute--has worked hard on helping to organize and promote this event. And she has invited me to be her guest at the dinner with Yunus after his talk. I will let you know all about the dinner conversation.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What To Do During Your Furlough Day

by Ann Abbott

New word: For-lough

Definition: When you do something "for" the community during your furlough day.

Example: Click here and here to see how this is playing out at the University of Illinois.

My first furlough day is Monday, February 15. I can't do community service that day, but since I have to take three more furlough days this semester, I will. I will also involve my children. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Spanish & Entrepreneurship: Mission Statements

by Ann Abbott

In today's class we wrapped up our lessons on mission statement and social entrepreneurship, although that is a topic that is always central to any other topic--because it is the center of all the organization's decision-making.

We saw examples of mission statements we all recognize because of a company's branding. We also looked at some less than stellar mission statements--our university's own plus those of several units on our campus.

Finally, we turned our sites to our own course: SPAN 332 "Spanish & Entrepreneurship: Languages, Cultures & Communities." We tried to define what the course's competition was and its unique value proposition. Building on that, students formed small groups and tried their hand at coming up with a mission statement for our course. They all need to post them here as a comment, so click on the comments to read them and see how well they did.

NYLC's Newsletter Offers Great Community Service Learning Information

by Ann Abbott

Click here to visit the latest issue of the National Youth Leadership Council's newsletter. The information in this issue is especially useful for those of you who are just beginning to teach with community service learning (CSL) or who want to gather more information before you make the leap.

Watch this video if you'd like to see examples of how CSL can be applied across the curriculum. And consider joining the Phi Delta Kappa Professional Education Association. I just did, and I and look forward to reading the CSL articles in their magazine.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Daily Illini Runs Story about Second Languages and Careers

by Ann Abbott

I spoke to a Daily Illini reporter recently; click here to read the story she wrote.

The piece appeared in the "Spring Career Guide 2010." College students are always interseted in how they can best position themselves in the job market, but students graduating during this economic crisis are even more alert for good tips.

A quick glance at the pieces in the Career Guide shows me that while the importance of service, leadership experiences, languages and study abroad are touched upon throughout, students really need someone to explain to them how to make those pieces of their academic experiences appear truly relevant and useful to potential employers. Just listing them on a resume is not enough.

For example, the article on resumes quotes Pnina Steiner, interim assistant dean of Business Career Services, as saying, "Studying abroad and special skills such as a language or web design help students stand out, she added." That is certainly true! But again, if you don't know how to "stage" these items on your resume so that companies see that you can apply what you learned from those experiences to their needs, you are not maximizing your resume and other job hunt materials.

I teach students how to talk about their Spanish community service learning (CSL) experiences during their job-hunt, but I know that they can use more information in this regard. You can begin by looking at Lección 22 in Comunidades. I am also developing more activities to help students recognize the value of their CSL experiences, see how to transfer the skills they gained in CSL to a professional context, and then communicate that value effectively in their job search materials.

Spanish & Entrepreneurship

by Lily Martínez, about SPAN 332 at the University of Illinois
The Ethics of Representation

Meanings of Representation: to stand in for, to symbolize, to speak on behalf of, to duplicate.

Shady Cosgrove introduces the importance of ethics of representation in one of her articles by situating the reader in a particular context, that of a beginner writer who is convinced that because his work is “fictional” or “made up”, he has no responsibility in knowing his facts, in this particular case, if Hitler and WWII are tied at all. With this example, Cosgrove presents a classical case of an individual who is possessed by negligence and a lack of consciousness of his/her responsibility when representing someone or something.
The students in the course, Spanish and Entrepreneurship, have a responsibility to be representatives of our university with collaborating community partners such as non-profit organizations, institutions and centers. However, what is important to note is that they are also representatives of their community partner once they are back on campus. Being able to move in and out of multiple socio-cultural contexts, while maintaining a high level of ethical practice and awareness of their potential to have a positive impact on a community or on individual, is one of the benefits students develop in the course. As Cosgrove has successfully demonstrated, the collaborative success of the students also depends on the double responsibility of representation, that, where the students take an initiative to familiarize themselves with the structures and knowledge’s of the organization itself, and realize that they are not the only ones giving back… two hours a week.

Monday, February 8, 2010

UIUC Students: Business Consulting Opportunity

by Ann Abbott

Please read the message below and jump on this fantastic opportunity!

"Dear Spanish and Russian Business Language Students,

"The Illinois Business Consulting (IBC), a student consulting organization, is looking for business language expertise in Spanish and Russian for the two project described below.

"If you are interested, please fill out the registration on the IBC website

"They are in the process of recruiting right now, and would need the registration form by next Wednesday, Feb. 10 in order to set up an interview.



IBC recently acquired two international projects, one for South America and one for Russia. We were wondering if you have any students from the CIBER program who might be interested in participating, as we can really benefit from their language skills.

Here are brief descriptions of the projects:

· Market analysis
o Identify and recommend the specific South America country (not including Venezuela and Colombia) in which the end client should locate manufacturing capability for the related product line (based on PESTEL and other robust analysis)
o Recommend the specific region or city within the recommended country to locate manufacturing capability
o Provide sound justification for recommendations
o Spanish or Portuguese speakers would be helpful

· Market entry
o Assist the Russian Strategy Team with research specific to the Russian construction sector including (1) construction practices within both commercial and residential projects, (2) key technology platform trends including “wet block” to wallboard migration, (3) building material competitive landscape, and (4) sector business model dynamics including distribution models in play
o Students with Russian language skills will enable client to build “ground up” information through both primary and secondary research including surveys and interviews

If they are interested in applying to IBC, please have them fill out the registration on our website We are in the process of recruiting right now, and would appreciate getting their registration form by next Wednesday so we can interview them. Thank you for your consideration and for your help!

Liezl Bowman
Associate Director, Illinois Business Consulting
University of Illinois
(217) 244-8890

Spanish & Entrepreneurship at the University of Illinois

Lily Martínez is the Teaching Assistant for the course I am teaching this semester, "Spanish & Entrepreneurship." Outside of class, students do community service learning with non-profit, educational and civic organizations that serve local Latinos. In class, I teach the basics of social entrepreneurship, with a special emphasis on creating culturally-appropriate programming, marketing, branding, etc. In their reflections, students compare and contrast the theory of social entrepreneurship with the realities they observe in the community. Finally, students work in group projects to create something entrepreneurial, something of value to the community. Throughout the semester, Lily will blog about the course. Lily introduces herself in her first post below.

by Lily Martínez

Hello everyone! My name is Lily Martinez and I am a doctoral student in the Spanish Department. I focus on Mexican and Brazilian 20th century literature and I have a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. As an undergraduate student, I obtained my B.A. in Secondary Education. This Spring 2010 semester, I will be working with Dr. Abbott and the students enrolled in the course “Spanish and Entrepreneurship”. Several semesters ago, I taught “Spanish in the Community” and I found the class objects and methods to be eclectic and innovative. Since I will be aiding the students in their projects with our community partners, I am looking forward to working with all of you! ¡Hasta pronto!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Community Service Learning at Rhodes College

by Ann Abbott

This week I am travelling to Memphis, Tennessee to visit Rhodes College to meet with people involved in community service learning (CSL) there and to give a talk entitled "Debates in Community Service Learning: From Assessment to Entrepreneurship."

I'm especially excited about this visit because it will give me a chance to see my old friend, Eric Henager, again. Eric and I overlapped in grad school, and I remember him fondly as a classmate but also as my TA Supervisor. I learned a lot from him about teaching and also about how to be an effective and compassionate TA Supervisor. I only hope that I treat my TAs with the same respect he showed me. Here is more information about the Spanish program at Rhodes, where Eric is Associate Professor, and their Spanish CSL course, Spanish 310.

Rhodes College is steeped in community service! The Kinney Program spreads service opportunities widely, and the Bonner Scholars program allows select students to delve deeply into it. I am especially interested to learn more about the Service Reflection Groups. Scroll down to see the topics and venues for the student-led reflection groups; I find them fascinating, and I hope to come back to UIUC with ideas to share and possibly implement.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What Can Teach Our Spanish Community Service Learning Students

by Ann Abbott
I have blogged before about the fabulous resources at My students read their definition of globalization to get us started in my Business Spanish class. It served as a basepoint to talk about gender and globalization in a case analysis of my brother-in-law's business. My students read the site's analysis of the Honduran coup and we followed that situation all semester long to think about its impact on business. And I mentioned their information on social media and Barack Obama's election.
Here is the latest information on their site, taken from the newsletter I just received. I've noted below them my ideas for class activities and connections with Spanish community service learning (CSL).

There are two new Issue Briefs:
Global Education, which analyzes education as a business; public sector and pedagogical and curricular developments related to the theory of global education; the role of civil society and international organizations; and governmental policies regarding education.
*Our Spanish CSL students often work in educational settings with immigrants. Can they understand how their work with these students fits within the educational trends that follow global human migration patterns? Moreover, can they understand how their course on Spanish CSL is part of a push toward "global education" that produces globally aware and competent students? (In case you're interested, Comunidades has an entire unit on education and Spanish CSL.)

Global Media, which addresses what the media is and how it interacts with society-specifically, the types of media, the media's role in society, governmental roles in media, control of media, alternative media, the economics of the media industry, and a case study on a pivotal moment in history involving the media and its implications.
*Ask your Spanish CSL students to go to the links provided on the page with "A few examples of alternative media" and research their portrayal of immigration and immigrants. Students can also read the pages about the business of media and look for examples of the issues presented within their local Spanish-language media outlets--or analyze the lack of Spanish-language news!
There are four new News Analyses:
International Corporate Social Responsibility, which highlights efforts from companies around the world to be more socially conscious.
*In my Spanish & Entrepreneurship course, I give a lesson on Responsibilidad Social Corporativa (RSC), and I use examples of the clothing company, Mango, and the bank, Banco Santander. I can assign this news analysis to my students as background reading before coming to class.

Financial Crisis Commission Inquiry: Looking Backward and Moving Forward, which analyzes the new Congressionally-appointed commission to examine the root causes of the current financial crisis
Tap or Bottled Water: Which is better, which highlights the regulatory, environmental, and health challenges associated with the making of and distribution of drinking water
Al-Qaeda Worldwide and Vulnerable Yemen, which analyzes international security challenges and threats.

Monday, February 1, 2010

UIUC Students: Go to the Green Career Fair this Wednesday

by Ann Abbott

Students often become very interested in issues of non-profit management and social entrepreneurship after taking Spanish community service learning (CSL) courses and the "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" course. But they don't always know how to follow up on that interest. Here is one way: go to the Green Career Fair (details in message below) this Wednesday and speak to the people from the SPEA program.

Here is the message I received:

"Greetings from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) at Indiana University – Bloomington! I hope that this e-mail finds you well.

"My name is Sarah Douglas and I am the Assistant Director of Graduate Student Recruitment at SPEA. I will be visiting the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Wednesday, February 3rd from 11am – 3pm at the Illini Union for the Green Career Fair. This Green Career Fair is meant to provide information for students with a desire to enhance the public good in a variety of areas, including public affairs and environmental science.

"I will be hosting a table on behalf of SPEA at this Green Career Fair, and I would enjoy meeting you either in your office or at the fair. I could visit you in your office after 3pm on Wednesday, February 3rd. Alternatively, feel free to drop by my table any time during the fair from 11am – 3pm at the Illini Union. Some facts about SPEA’s graduate programs follow.

"The 2009 U.S. News & World Report ranked SPEA’s Master of Public Affairs (MPA) program number two in the nation and identified that the program's concentrations in environmental policy and natural resource management and nonprofit management are the best in the country. The ranking also listed SPEA’s public financial management and public management concentrations in the top three. Our excellent Master of Science in Environmental Science (MSES) degree is considered to be one of the top environmental science programs in the country by the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (CEDD). It offers concentrations in applied ecology, water resources, and environmental chemistry, toxicology, and risk assessment. A joint MPA/MSES degree program (5 semesters) is an increasingly popular choice by our students. We have achieved these impressive results because SPEA offers a unique multidisciplinary curriculum that spans the social sciences as well as the physical and natural sciences and even extends to the arts and humanities.

"SPEA has already welcomed a number of students from your institution, including Farah Abi-Akar, Michael Brennan, Jenna Cluver, Laura Schroeder, Izabella Redlinski, and Sean Weatherwax. Perhaps you could alert students to our presence at the fair and direct them to our table? I would also be happy to give a 5 minute informational presentation to your students about SPEA’s graduate programs anytime after 3pm on Wednesday, February 3rd. Finally, we are happy to mail you some materials about our graduate programs.

Thank you in advance for your time and effort.

Best regards,

Sarah Douglas
Assistant Director, Graduate Student Recruitment
Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA)

MPA/MSES Program Office SPEA 260
1315 E. Tenth St.
Bloomington, IN 47405
p: 812.855.2840
f: 812.856.3665

6 Questions to Ask Now Regarding Your Community Service Learning Course

by Ann Abbott

I'm in Week 2 of my semester. You're probably a week ahead or behind me. The important thing is that we're still at the beginning of the semester, when we can still make some tweaks, if necessary.

So, think back to your last CSL course (last semester? last year?). Think about how things have gone so far this semester. Then answer these questions for yourself.

1. Are my community partners satisfied? Did you ask your community partners if they are happy with your students' work? If you received any negative feedback, how can you address it this semester? Can you create a lesson plan to teach students to do something important to the community partner? Can you ask last semester's students to "coach" this semester's students? What else can you do?

2. What will I do differently next semester? Did you have a great idea for changing something last semester while you were teaching? You know, you had a light-bulb moment that happened in the elevator as you were going back to your office after teaching. But then you got interrupted before you could write it up. Think back, try to capture those moments, and stick a note in your textbook so you can address it this semester.

3. Do my students realize the value of this experience? Do you even fully realize its value for your students? Students may see your CSL course as "another Spanish class." It is. But they can get unique value from it: it combines language learning with real opportunities for intercultural communication in professional settings. That's unique value! Make sure they know that.

4. To whom am I grateful? I'm sure you've done a lot of work to pull this course together, perhaps despite your departmental or institutional responses. Still, someone has helped you along the way, even if it was just your community partners. Or those students last semester who seemed annoyed but were really just pushing you to develop a new aspect of the course. Maybe a colleague shared lessons or thoughts on CSL in general with you when you were planning--or when you were at wits' end! Near the end of Comunidades, students need to write a thank-you letter to someone in their community partner organization. I highly encourage you to take a few minutes to write a card of your own.

5. To whom can I ask my questions? Don't go through another semester feeling like all the weight is on your shoulders. If you can't find someone on your campus or in your field, write your questions or concerns in a comment on this blog. We can all help each other.

6. Am I trying to "fix" my community partners? I've seen this happen before. Let's say your community partner runs on a shoe-string budget with a few over-stretched employees. You want to "help them improve" their office, their systems, their programming, their website--whatever. Is that really what they want the most? Or is that what you want? Concentrate on helping them do what they do best.