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Showing posts from 2011

Opportunity for College Seniors

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by Ann Abbott

One of my former students, Sandra Mazuera, was involved in this program so I feel very recommending it to all my students and all my students to this selective program. See message below:

Hi Professor Abbott, Thank you again for your help spreading the word about the MATCH Corps this fall!
To refresh your memory, The MATCH Corps is a highly selective one-year fellowship program that allows recent grads to tutor inner-city kids in Boston for a year. After the year, fellows usually go on to top grad schools, work in public policy, or become full-time teachers in inner city schools. I just wanted to check in and see if you have any students or recent grads you’d like to nominate for the 2012-2013 cohort. We are still accepting applications! Please feel free to pass the following blurb along to any students who might be interested. Students are welcome to contact me directly for more information.

Happy holidays! Colin Bottles, Director of Recruiting MATCH Charter Publ…

Student Spotlight: James Peters

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by Ann Abbott


So many of my students know that they want to live and work abroad, but they're not sure exactly how to go about it. There are many paths, of course, and several of the "Student Spotlight" entries on this blog highlight former students who are now living abroad or incorporating Spanish into their lives in the United States.

The Peace Corps, of course, is a well-known way to live and work abroad for a few years. That is the path that James Peters has chosen.

James was in my course on social entrepreneurship last year. James really stood out to me because he was full of ideas, willing to participate and because of his dedication to the Boy Scout troop he worked with in the community. So I was delighted to receive an e-mail from him recently recounting his adventures in Luque, Paraguay. I loved the insights into the local language and indigenous culture. I asked James if I could share his information with others on my blog, and this was his reply:

Hola! Yes I w…

Creating Infrastructures for Latino Mental Health: Spanish Community Service Learning's Role

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by Ann Abbott


I just received my copy of Creating Infrastructures for Latino Mental Health(Springer), edited by Lydia Buki and Lissette Piedra.  I'm very proud to have a chapter in this book that not only defines the problems surrounding Latinos' access to mental health services but also makes concrete policy and organizational recommendations to address the need. (My chapter describes why and how human service agencies can contact their nearest college Spanish program to begin a mutually beneficial community service learning partnership.)

Our university's Inside Illinois also profiled the editors--two professors on our campus--and the impetus behind the book. Congratulations to Lissette and Lydia for putting forth a guidebook that outlines the issues and possible solutions!

Student Spotlight: Laura Woodward

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by Ann Abbott

It is always such a pleasure for me to hear from former students. I especially like hearing about their professional aspirations and growth--whether they include Spanish or not.

Laura Woodward's message (below) should be of interest to current Spanish students for at least two reasons:

1. She has identified an educational program (Masters in International Disaster Psychology at the University of Denver) and career path that is unusual but that could actually fit many of my students interests, experiences and goals.

2. Her message models many good things about how to contact a former professor and ask for a letter of recommendation. First, her "luck" in finding work in a restaurant immediately reminded me of her sense of humor. (Each student has a unique personality, and believe it or not, we almost always notice that.) She reminded me specifically of the course, the semester and the community work that she did in my class. I need those reminders! Finally, t…

Student Reflection

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by Jacqui Kukulski
“Mira directo.”
“¿Está tomando algún medicina?”
“¿Está casada?”
I’ve been working at Frances Nelson Health Center for roughly three months at 7.5 hours a week.  When I first started I was only on the phones, and occasionally translating at the front desk.  They had me shadow the translators in the room so I could learn how to translate for the doctors and learn the medical terminology in Spanish.  When November came, I was still following the translators around, like a lost puppy.  I only had the freedom to go to the front desk and translate there or answer the phones without them having to be near me.  If I was ever in a room I certainly wanted them there.  I didn’t have the confidence in my Spanish or my medical terms and if I was ever translating for a patient I was glad that there was another translator there to help out when the patient or doctor said something that I understood but couldn’t translate effectively (or didn’t understand in the case of the patient).
Al…

Student Reflection

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by Jacqui Kukulski
-Quiero una cita.
-¿Para qué?
This is part of the conversation that I often have with patients over the phone.  We get many calls everyday all for the same complaint: “I want an appointment” (which really isn’t a complaint or symptom of anything). On our outgoing message we have the usual request for information: name, birthday, phone number and the reason for the call.  I guess you could say that we’re getting all of those, but the reason isn’t always specific.  This then starts a phone call game of tag between the translators and the patient trying to get all the pertinent information as well as the reason why they’re calling, ie their symptoms.  It gets even more interesting when you can’t even make out the word for their symptom.
I once had a woman explain her symptoms to me, but she kept talking.  I tried my hardest to understand everything she said.  I continually asked questions to make sure that I understood what she was telling me.  I didn’t understand her comp…

Student Reflection

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by Jacqui Kukulski

That wasn’t the earth opening up and swallowing me up was it? I certainly hope not, but sometimes it looks like that happens to some people. I was helping translate for a man the other day and he was supposed to have a follow up appointment a long time ago, but he understood that he would get a letter in the mail telling him when his next appointment was. He had many problems and there was a bit of confusion but what was the saddest part was there wouldn’t have been any confusion if he hadn’t been forgotten. I haven’t been at Frances Nelson long enough to witness a lot of this, but the feeling I get is that this is all too common.

Patients don’t always get appointments. The schedule fills up faster than the patients can get an appointment. Patients miss appointments or never make a follow up. It was suggested to this man that he needs to take responsibility for himself, and make sure he gets the appointments he needs. But what about his side of …

Advice from Former Spanish CSL Student: Internships and Volunteering in Latin America

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by Ann Abbott


I just heard from one of my former students, Sarah Moauro, who has built a wonderful international life for herself in Latin America. I know that so many of my current students would love to do exactly what Sarah is doing, and she actually has some really good, specific advice. If you want to contact Sarah, just let me know (arabbott@illinois.edu)!


Here's Sarah's message:



Hi Ann,
I hope you're doing well and that it's not too cold yet in Illinois! I was just thinking that if you have any students coming to/studying in Buenos Aires or Latin America in general this year, here are a couple of ideas you could let them know about.
Over the last couple of months, I have been volunteering at an NGO called Fundacion Pro Vivienda Social. They do microfinance programs to help communities improve their housing and neighborhoods by developing infrastructure. They're almost always looking for more interns, helping with research or with communications, so it i…

Champaign-Urbana: Volunteer Opportunity on Saturday

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by Ann Abbott


Please consider volunteering and using your Spanish at this event:


This Saturday, November 12 from 10:00AM till 2:00PM there is a community fair at Lincoln Square in Urbana. Volunteers are needed. The name of the event is called "A community fair to connect working families with local services in East-Central Illinois," and participants will share information on where to obtain free medicare, dental services, access to healthy food, and so on. 
WHEN: November 12, 10:00AM - 2:00PM WHERE: Lincoln Square, 201 Lincoln Square, Urbana
Please contact Guadalupe at: Email: Guadamaria1@gmail.com Phone: 217-344-8455

"You Have the Right to Remain Silent": Spanish Community Service Learning and Our Legal Rights

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by Ann Abbott


What would you do if the police knocked on your door?


My first instinct would be to open it. 


But I would fight that instinct. I would ask them through the closed door what they wanted. Until I figured out the situation, I would give no information beyond my name. 


If the conversation continued, I would ask them if they had a warrant. If they said no, I would stop communicating. If they said yes, I would ask them to slip it under the door for me to verify. Those are  my rights.


I am a US citizen. White. I live in a very good neighborhood. I was raised to see the police as my ally. Truly, I don't think I have any reason to fear them. I want to be a good citizen, and I want to help the police create a safe community for all of us.


But it is our right to remain silent--and not just after they have arrested you, despite all the chatty people you see on Law & Order.


I teach this in my "Spanish in the Community" course. It's in Lección 14 ("¿Qué se debe hac…

Languages for Specific Purposes: One Look at the Role of Community Service Learning in LSP

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by Ann Abbott


I was very happy to receive my copy of Specialised Languages in the Global Village: A Multi-Perspective Approach (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011) in the mail today. The book focuses on languages for specific purposes (LSP) and was edited by Carmen Pérez-Llantada and Maida Watson.


My contribution was Chapter Two "Social Entrepreneurship and Community Service Learning: Building Sustainable Non-profits and Language Programs" (p. 27-45).

You can see in the table of contents that the chapters cover a wide range of issues. I would especially recommend the chapter by Stefanie Stadler for anyone who is working on intercultural competence (and aren't we all). There are also very insightful pieces by several of my CIBER colleagues who have become my friends: Christine Uber Grosse, Maida Watson and Mary Risner.


The book is described in this way: "The status of LSP (Languages for Specialised Purposes) in the contemporary socio-cultural context is an ongoing centr…

Spanish Lesson Plan with News Items

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by Ann Abbott


It's the time of the semester when we all need to interject a little variety in our classes to keep students alert and engaged.

Today I'll be doing parts of Lección 15 ¨¿Son noticias para nosotros?¨ from Comunidades. I gathered a few articles from today's La Raza (a Spanish-language newspaper based in Chicago). I copied them, divided them in half and printed them out. In class, I'll mix them out and hand each student a piece of paper. Students will read their half of the news item and then search among their classmates to find the person who has the other half. They'll sit down together to fill in the complete picture. You can print out the articles I chose and do this activity with your students, too. (I have enough for 14 students. If you have more, just choose a few more articles or pair students up.)

Afterwards, I'll have students do the following:

Circulate among their classmates again, telling about their article and asking if the other stude…

Student Reflection

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by Jacqui Kukulski

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?  Well, Carmen Sandiego contracted Chagas disease in her exploits over in Central Americas, lost her health benefits and her amazing salary so she’s at Frances Nelson Health Center.  That’s quite unfortunate for Carmen Sandiego.  
Luckily, that’s not the case for the people who get treated at Frances Nelson.  I haven’t heard of a single case of Chagas disease.  There’s honestly nothing amusing about working at Frances Nelson, but to work there you need to be lighthearted but with eons of compassion. 
Frances Nelson Health Center is a governmentally subsidized clinic that provides healthcare for the uninsured (or self-pay) and for the bad insured (their insurance doesn’t help out much).  Every patient this clinic sees is on a pay scale based on their monthly salary and how many dependents are in the household.  Through this center patients are able to get appointments at Carle Hospital for specific procedures that the clinic can’t h…

Student Spotlight: Carolyn (Carolina) Kloecker

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by Ann Abbott


Carolina Kloecker is passionate about Spanish and service. She is a self-starter who came to my office just to introduce herself long before she actually took a class with me. And that "jump-in-there" attitude of hers (which many students can develop more in themselves) has taken her far.

As a UIUC student, Carolina studied abroad in Ecuador, did a Spanish & Illinois Summer Internship with ACCION Chicago, took "Spanish in the Community" and "Spanish & Entrepreneurship," worked in the Study Abroad Office and amped up their social media presence, and in general simply took advantage of many, many opportunities on campus to develop her language, leadership and service skills.

She was an ideal student. But she graduated in May 2011 and had to find her way in a tough job market. I think her current job and activities will be of interest to all Spanish students but especially those interested in teaching. You can visit her classroom blog, …

Student Reflection: Jacqui Kukulski

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by Jacqui Kukulski



Well, hello there.  It’s a bit into the first semester and I’ve been to my community partner several times.  I recently spent the summer in Spain working on my Spanish and all things Europe related.  A regular Spanish class for my Spanish (second) major didn’t fit into my schedule and I didn’t want to take a semester off of Spanish so I thought this class would work nicely.  And I’m ecstatic with my decision.  I’ve been learning Spanish since I was 13 years old and up until last June my Spanish was only mediocre.  I was terrified to speak, zoned out whenever someone talked to me for more than 30 seconds in Spanish and fell asleep reading it.  But I could write.  Boy, could I write.  But, that’s probably because I was able to look up all the words I couldn’t think of off the top of my head.  When I got back from Spain, I was pretty confident with my Spanish skills and took on quite an undertaking.  I started talking with Frances Nelson Health Center about volunteering…

What is "Real" Community Service Learning Work?

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by Ann Abbott


I think that the following e-mail thread will be of interest to students, instructors and community partners. It illustrates how we may have unaligned expectations about what constitutes "real" Spanish community service learning (CSL) work.


Human services workers know that paperwork and basic office tasks are routine but necessary parts of the job. Students, however, may not know or value that work. What do they expect to do in a human services office? What do they want to do? What does learning "look like" to them? These are all important yet difficult questions for CSL instructors who must design mutually beneficial partnerships.


E-mail exchange #1: Student to TA

[TA], He visto tus comentarios sobre [community partner] y mi frustracion sobre no mucho trabajo y que estoy haciendo tarea muchas veces.Estoy de acuerdo que no es el punto de la clase, y quiero hablar contigo sobre otras opciones de hacer trabajo, quizas con ESL o algo similar. No se que exac…

Spanish Community Service Learning and the Job Hunt

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by Ann Abbott


I received an e-mail this morning from LinkedIn with links to two articles about career success that are, in my mind, indirectly linked to what we do with our students in Spanish community service learning (CSL).

1. "The Must-Have Leadership Skill" talks about the importance of emotional intelligence. I really feel like the the experience of doing community service learning plus creating activities that explicitly address seeing things from other people's perspectives contributes to students' emotional intelligence. In an interview and in job search materials, being able to demonstrate with examples that you were able to work successfully in a multilingual and multicultural environment and understand multiple perspectives should be positive indicators of future success. While students may examine multiple perspectives in other courses, our CSL courses ask them to put that into action.

2. "The Ten Worst Mistakes of First-Time Job Hunters" focus…