Thursday, May 31, 2012

Student Spotlight: Jacqui Kukulski

Good luck, Jacqui, on your applications to medical school!
by Ann Abbott

Many students who take Spanish community service learning classes are also interested in going on to medical school. I agree with them that being able to use Spanish in a clinical setting--not just a Spanish classroom--is a great asset when applying to medical school and beyond. I would suggest that all students who want to combine premed and Spanish study what Jacqui Kukulski has done.

  • Study abroad. (Just be sure you truly immerse yourself in the language and culture. You need to make an effort to do this; it doesn't just happen.)
  • Get actual work experience using your Spanish in a health-care setting. Jacqui did this as part of her "Spanish in the Community" community service learning work. She made the effort to find a place for herself at the Frances Nelson Health Clinic, even though they are not an official community partner. 
  • Build your resume in a way that truly highlights your accomplishments. Jacqui's resume doesn't have the traditional "work experience" section. Instead, she has a section called "Experience" and this is how she listed her work in Frances Nelson:
Frances Nelson Health Center
September 2011 - Present
Volunteer Translator
  • Translate between patient and doctor/nurse/receptionist
  • Make calls to Spanish speaking patients about appointments
Lastly, really take advantage of your reflective essays to connect your learning in the community with your medical school aspirations. Jacqui did that in her blog posts and on her final thoughts about her experiences in the course:
"At Frances Nelson Health Center I learned to communicate with people formally and lots of medical Spanish vocabulary. I learned how a clinic works as well as the problems associated with it. I also learned about the culture of minority groups and the laws in the United States regarding them which allows me to understand the stresses of the Latino population better. I blogged as my honors project and through this project I was able to give detailed attention to how the system worked. I was able to pay close attention to the bedside manner of some of the doctors which I will either try to either emulate or avoid depending on the patients response to that particular doctor. By writing for the blog I was able to take a second look and really understand all the inner workings of the clinic and the lives of the patients." 
In cover letters and interviews, all Jacqui needs to do is cull specific examples from her blog posts and reflective essays to support her statements above, and she will definitely stand out among the crowded field of students applying for medical school. How will you stand out?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tests for Spanish Community Service Learning Courses

My Spanish and Social Entrepreneurship students wrote a take-home final exam: a cover letter for an actual job opening in a non-profit in Mexico. The course content was about creating economically sustainable nonprofits with linguisitically and culturally appropriate programming. The students did a great job matching the course concepts and work to the nature of a real nonprofit job ad.
by Ann Abbott

How do you test students in a Spanish community service learning class? That is a question that people often ask.

I have already shared one test that I gave this semester.

Final exam for SPAN 232 Spanish in the Community

Here is the take-home test that I gave in my other course--a content-based course about social entrepreneurship that also incorporates CSL work:

SPAN 332 Spanish and Social Entrepreneurship

1. Encuentra en un anuncio para un vacante que te interese de verdad.

2. Además de leer con cuidado el anuncio, explorala página web de la organización que escogiste.

3. Escribe en español una carta de presentación de dos páginas, solicitando el puesto. Sigue todas las reglas sobre las cartas de presentación, menos la que dice que deben ser de una sóla página. Te pueden ser útiles estas guías:

4. En tu carta utiliza ejemplos específicos de estas dos cosas: 1) el trabajo en la comunidad que hiciste para este curso y/o SPAN 232; 2) el trabajo en equipo que hiciste para este curso.

5. I hope this exam will be an opportunity for you to reflect on your learning during this course in a format that can be beneficial for your own job searches. If you take this opportunity to write a strong cover letter for the exam, you may be able to recycle parts of it in the future. Suerte!

I was very happy with the students´ exams. The vast majority of them exceeded my expectations.
In fact, I think many of the students can actually go ahead and use almost all of the letter in their own job searches. I will write another post listing the ways students can improve their cover letters.

What do you think? What kinds of skills and-or knowledge do you think these tests assess? Do you think they approximate in some way testing how we teach in a CSL course?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Good Examples for Community Service Learning Students about Culture in Education

What does "parent involvement" mean in your culture?
by Ann Abbott

Earlier this month I participated in the "Responding to Immigrants National Conference: Bridging Research and Practice to Meet the Needs of Immigrants in New Growth Communities." My workshop was a "how-to" session on getting started with a community service learning (CSL) course.

Mostly, however, I was interested in the sessions I attended. There is a lot of really great research being done about serving the needs of immigrants in education and human services. One session in particular provided very good examples of what "culture" looks like in education: "Immigrant Integration and Civic Engagement in a Chicago Suburb" by Melissa Abad and Julio Capales, Sociology, University of Illinois-Chicago. Here are just a few examples of missed opportunities for transcultural competence in schools.

  • Officials felt that Latino parents were not involved in their children's education. Why? Because they didn't show up to the PTA meetings. If only one form of involvement is recognized, Latino parent involvement (in other ways) is invisible.
  • School officials felt that they were reaching out to Latino parents by sending home flyers. Latino parents expected someone to actually talk to them.
  • When Mexican families traveled back to Mexico to visit family, they stayed for a month. (Makes sense; if you go to the time and expense to go visit, then you extend your stay for as long as you can. Also, "vacation time" is viewed differently in other countries.) But when your children are out of school for that long, they are officially "dropped" from the school. When the families came back, they had to pay an expensive re-enrollment fee to get their children back on the books.
In Comunidades: Más allá del aula, Lección 6 ¿Sabemos cómo trabajar en la comunidad de manera culturalmente apropriada? is all about the presence of culture in schools--in visible and invisible ways; in what is taught as well as how it is taught; in expectations for students and expectations for children. When I teach this lesson next semester, I will add the above examples. 

Do you have other examples of how culture influences education and the institution of education? Please share them here!

Language Use in the Community: An ACTFL Research Priority

Brianna Anderson, "Spanish in the Community" student, serving tamales at the Refugee Center's fundraising dinner. What research questions could we ask about her time in the community, her Spanish and her learning?
by Ann Abbott

Out of the many positive things ACTFL does for our profession, one of the latest efforts involves establishing and supporting research priorities. As explained in "Moving Language Education Forward: ACTFL's Research Priorities Initiative" (The Language Educator April 2012), the project follows these steps:
1. Researchers conducted reviews of the literature in nine research priority categories. Those reviews will be published this summer.
2. Those research priorities were condensed to five areas:

  • Foreign Language Teacher Preparation Model Programs: Documentation, Implementation, and Outcomes
  • Profiles of High-Performing Foreign Language Teachers in K-12 Settings
  • Language Use in the Community
  • Mentoring K-16 Foreign Language Teachers and Classroom Discourse
  • High-Leverage Teaching Practices

3. Later this year, ACTFL will fund research projects in those five areas. "We are hopeful that in Phase II, research projects will be undertaken at multiple sites across the country in collaborative work by K-16 research teams." (p. 30).

Obviously, I am most interested in the research priority on language use in the community. I am also excited about the possibility of a research project involving multiple sites across the country and involving my colleagues in K-12 education.

Let's see where this can lead us!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Student Spotlight: Grace Larson

Grace Larson on a climbing trip in Southern Spain, in El Chorro.  
by Ann Abbott

Now that she has graduated from the University of Illinois, Grace Larson has job plans. They just don't involve an office. Or even a building.

Grace is applying for jobs in wilderness therapy. She has taken her passion for climbing and outdoors adventures and combined that with her solid academic background, work experiences and proven ability to work with a diverse group of people. I know that Grace will excel in these jobs. 

As she was preparing her applications, Grace asked me for a letter of recommendation. I always ask students to give me the information I need to write a good letter, and I'd like to share with you what Grace sent me. My hope is that Grace's words will show students how their behavior in the classroom (and in the community!) really counts. 

Hey Ann!
So, some basic info about myself that you might want to know:
The course I took with you was Span332, Spanish and Entrepreneurship, this Spring 2012. I do not yet know my final grade in the course- but currently it is an A. I did my CSL work at ECRIMAC- working both in the office and one-on-one tutoring Maria [name changed] as well.

The job I am applying to is a wilderness therapy program in Utah (there are 3 I am interested in). ECIRMAC taught me a few valuable lessons that will help in this program:
-Working with people with different backgrounds than yourself is the most challenging and rewarding group you can work with. At ECIRMAC I learned to appreciate different cultures, life situations, and life challenges that I have never had to deal with in my own life. As Maria told me about her life, I appreciated and sympathized with the struggles of immigrant life. It felt amazing being able to give her something that could help her out…especially the gift of easing her communication with the English speaking world. In Wilderness therapy, I will be working with adolescents who have also had very different experiences than my own...supporting them in their own struggles and helping them find some more peace or understanding about the world around them. ECIRMAC also taught me that not everything always runs smoothly or perfectly funded, but that with devoted workers and volunteers, an amazing service can still be provided to the community….I feel this will be true for wilderness therapy as well.

I did not do an honors project. The thing I was most proud of was working with Maria every week on her English…she started with little to no English- and by the end of the year she knew some basic grammar, a good amount of vocabulary- and more than anything, she gained a comfort with listening and speaking more in English and she also became comfortable with asking questions. I was so proud of her!

How would you answer the questions I pose to all students requesting a letter of recommendation? If you knew that you were going to be asked those questions later, would you approach your classroom and community work differently? Finally, do you have a hobby or passion that you too could turn into a career path?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Student Spotlight: Gabrielle Wooden

Gabrielle Wooden, in Alicante with an amiguito.
by Ann Abbott

So many of my students just graduated this past weekend. Congratulations to all of them! It is a tough job market, and I know that many of them are struggling with tough decisions. Should I go to grad school? Should I go now or after working for a few years? How can I find a job that allows me to move out on my own? I really want to live abroad, but how can I find a job in another country?

Gabrielle Wooden has made her decision and knows exactly what her plans are: Teach for America.

Here are a few facts about Gabrielle:
  • She took "Spanish in the Community" with me and worked at Booker T. Washington Elementary School.
  • She continued doing Spanish community service learning (CSL) work in my "Spanish and Social Entrepreneurship" course.
  • She studied abroad in Alicante, Spain.
  • She friended me on Facebook, so I am lucky to be able to follow her adventures and stay in touch with her. I loved it when she posted pictures of her visit to Germany to see Victor Vasalla, another classmate from our "Spanish in the Community" class together. (I am very happy when my former students friend me on Facebook; it lets me stay in touch, and I hope it helps them to know that they can pick up with me at any time if they ever need my help.)
Gabriela sent me the following message to share her exciting news: 

"I wanted to let you know that I have been officially hired and have signed a contract with Myrtle Hall IV Language Immersion Elementary Magnet School (long name, I know!).  I will be teaching 1st grade to a predominantly African American student body, using Spanish 90% of the time and English only 10% of the time and only for English reading and grammar lessons.  I am so excited that my Spanish capabilities have opened this door for me and am very eager to embark on this new chapter of my life!  I will keep you updated and let you know how teaching in Spanish goes! Again, thank you so much for your continued advice and support throughout my collegiate years! :)

"Spanish teachers are actually in very high demand in poor communities and Teach for America is really embracing sending Spanish teachers out in these communities as part of the corps- if any of your spanish students are interested in a 2 year detour and one heck of an experience you should definitely give them my name and contact information! :) I look forward to keeping in touch."

If you are interested in Teach for America, talk to Gabriela. And don't forget that Brianna Anderson is going on to Teach for America, too. 

Good luck to all the 2012 UIUC grads!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Student Reflection

by Brianna Anderson


Today I chose to include a picture of the library in Garden Hills.  The library in this school is fantastic—so much better than the one that I remember from my elementary years.  If memory serves me correctly, my library was about the same size as the one in Garden Hills, but the books were in terrible shape.  Reading is such an integral part of education that it only makes sense to keep a library in the best condition.

But I really don’t want to focus this post on the library of Garden Hills and how I feel reading has helped my student progress academically.  I want to focus this post on what working in the community has done for me.  And that you just can’t really capture in a photo.

I have had the opportunity to work with three different organizations during my time as a student in SPAN 232/332.  My main placement was SOAR, as I’m sure has been made clear at this point.  I have also volunteered several times with the Wesley Evening Food Pantry.  They are often in need of Spanish speaking volunteers to help explain the process of selecting food items to guests, especially if it is their first time. The third organization that I worked with was the Refugee Center.  I only worked with ECIRMAC once, at the fundraiser dinner that was held a few weeks back. 

Although I was not very involved with ECIRMAC, I still could see the same characteristics in the volunteers and the attendees at that dinner that I did when I volunteered at the food pantry and every Wednesday when I walked into SOAR.  All three of these organizations are so dependent on people who care.  It’s not that I really doubted the presence of good-natured people on this campus or that I have absolutely no faith in mankind, but far too often the small things are forgotten, like how valuable a few words of encouragement or a helping hand can be.  These volunteers serve as a reminder to everyone how much can be accomplished with just a little love. 

On a college campus where some people spend more money at the bars in a weekend than they donate in an entire year and more time getting ready for class than volunteering, we all need to take a moment and really think about what’s really important. What will really have the greater impact—your outfit that Thursday night, or the conversation you have with a woman at the food pantry who is struggling to feed her family?  Just think about it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Student Reflection

by Susannah Koch

I cannot believe that it is the end of my junior year and that this semester is over. Since coming back from Spain in December everything has flown by in a huge blur, and that includes this exciting spring semester. I have really enjoyed my experience in Spanish 232 and would like to dedicate this blog post to discussing how I have grown this semester, what I have learned, what I hope for the future and the summary that I gave to Alejandra about my time at Provena.

This class has been a very unique experience amongst the other classes that I have taken at UIUC. I have always been drawn to activities and groups of a philanthropic nature and this class was no exception. Being able to combine my love of learning languages and my love of helping others has been the ideal experience and has allowed me to grow as both a student and person. Although my time in class and in the community were enjoyable, I was also forced outside of my comfort zone and made to realize how much more I have to learn in terms of speaking Spanish and working in the community. I also really appreciated the opportunity to combine all three of my passions, not just Spanish and altruistic deeds, but my passion for medicine and health. I hope that I can continue to have this combination throughout my life and that I can continue improving in all three categories.

The past week Alejandra asked us all to write about our experience at Provena and the suggestions that we have to make it a better experience in the future. I think that students should continue the relationship established by Ann and Alejandra between the hospital and the school because both are critical components of the community. I have included what I sent to Alejandra and hope that it helps to make this relationship stronger and more beneficial for students and the community in future semesters.

I have enjoyed my time at Provena Covenant Medical Center this semester because it was a unique and new experience. I have been taking Spanish classes in school for about 7 years now, but the opportunity to work with Spanish-speaking people in the community was never a component of those classes. Although there was not as much contact with Spanish-speaking patients as I had originally thought there would be, I appreciated the experience to learn about the importance of language services in our community. After studying abroad in Spain last semester, I developed some lack of confidence problems when speaking Spanish with native speakers. The times that I did have the chance to practice my Spanish with people in the community this semester, I was able to gain some confidence in my ability to converse effectively. I also really enjoyed the events when several of us volunteer-interns were able to work together and collaborate; I always enjoy working on a team. Alejandra, the language services supervisor, was wonderful and made it a priority to introduce us to people at the hospital and involve us in the organization, which I really appreciated.

As a new opportunity for SPAN 232/332 students and an evolving language service program, there are places where improvements could make the experience even better. I feel that there could be more collaboration amongst the students and as a whole group. One way to do this could be with bi-weekly group meetings where everyone could discuss tasks for the month, progress, and community opportunities to utilize Provena’s services. In order to increase the amount of contact with the Spanish-speaking community, students could potentially go see patients with a translator. That way they could experience what the job of a translator entails and practice listening to patients in Spanish. Overall, I am very happy that I chose to work at Provena this semester. Everyone was extremely kind, and despite the time it took to actually begin volunteering, the experience was well worth the effort.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Student Reflection

by Susannah Koch

Since my last post about the community health fair, things have really died down in terms of the amount of work I have been doing for Provena. I was unable to go to the heath fair at Garden Hills School in Urbana the weekend after the community health fair and have been mainly doing organizational work with Alejandra. She has been very busy with classes and conferences in Chicago about translation services. It is exciting to see that she is continuing her education and trying to make the language services department as successful as possible. I have grown to admire and respect Alejandra very much because she has such passion for what she does. I hope to one day be as passionate about my career as she is about hers.

The work that I have been doing is in relation to the organization of the office and making the whole organization run smoother. Although this work is not glamorous, it is important to realize the significance of secretarial and organizational tasks because they allow the more important things to be executed successfully and for a larger number of patients to be helped in less time. I do not mind helping with the small things because Alejandra and I talk about our lives, the program, how to make it better and the language of Spanish. I learned that the word “ordenador” is only used in Spain and was strange for me to use with Alejandra. It is interesting to learn these small differences because understanding the cultural differences between dialects makes you a better speaker.

I hope to continue working at Provena next semester, even if it is just a general hospital volunteer because I have seen how wonderful and caring the entire staff is. Having worked at Carle hospital, I can attest to the importance of helpful staff and the process has a lot less stressful at Provena. I appreciate this aspect because we are all so busy and it is hard to fit everything in sometimes. I also hope to take Spanish 332 spring semester of next year and potentially continue my work with the language services team at Provena. I am excited to see the progress the program will have made by then and to continue helping the community.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Student Reflection

by April Nwatah

For the past 4 years my mailing address has always ended in “Urbana, IL 61801.” However, since I’ve only lived here as a student, it should have actually read something along the lines of “The Bubble, IL 61801." I like to refer to the UIUC campus as “The Bubble” because it’s not an accurate representation of the real communities of Urbana and Champaign. During my first couple years of college I hardly ever left The Bubble, since I lived in the dorms and had pretty much everything that I needed right here. Everything that I had to say about Urbana and Champaign were related to the campus and nothing else. To me, Champaign stopped at around First Street and anything east of Lincoln Avenue in Urbana was Hipster territory. Needless to say, I was living in a false reality.

Doing Spanish Community Service Learning (through SPAN 232 and SPAN 332) has brought me out of The Bubble and into the communities of Urbana and Champaign through the various projects that I’ve done. Through these courses I have attained a greater awareness of these communities, along with their strengths and their shortcomings. As a Chicago native (real Chicago, not the suburbs) I’ve also surprisingly enjoyed the smaller, slower paced lifestyle.

So while Urbana and Champaign are a lot more than “The Bubble” they’re actually quite cool, yet I wouldn’t have realized that without being able to do service learning in the community. With graduation in a matter of days matched with my great experiences in the community, I’ve decided to stay and live in town for at least a year or so, working (I’m not sure where…yet), volunteering with my church, and seeking out the various treasures in the community. So since you might see me around, saying “adios” wouldn’t be quite appropriate so I guess I’ll just end with “¡hasta luego!"

Monday, May 7, 2012

Comunidades Activity Teaches Services Learning Students a "Headline" Skill

My students' thank-you notes, ready to send to our community partners.
by Ann Abbott

I recently read this article about the importance of writing a follow-up note after a job interview.  Basically, the conclusion is that if you do not send a thank you message, you will not get the job.

I'm happy to say that my Spanish community service learning (CSL) textbook, Comunidades: Más allá del aula, includes an activity in the very last Lección that requires students to write a thank you note to their supervisors in the community. There are specific instructions about what information to include, because I found over the years that students did not always know what made a compelling note. They need to include specific details to support an over-arching statement of what they have learned by working at the organization. Not only is this professionally important, it is also culturally important. 

I always tell students that in most contexts in Hispanic cultures, it is very important to both say hello and then goodbye to everyone in the room, the office or the home. Students nod as if this information was perfectly obvious. Yet if they actually observed their own behavior or that of their friends, they would probably find that they do not always do this. For example, many people from Hispanic cultures who live in the United States note with surprise that when their children´s friends come to their house to visit, they sometimes knock on the door, go off to play with their kids and never say hello or even look the adults in the eye. With their thank you notes, students are in effect ¨saying goodbye.¨

Furthermore, I would say that people in Latino cultures tend to be more ¨detallista¨ than the majority of people from the U.S. Sending a handwritten note card is a ¨detalle¨ that sends an important message of respect and attention.

So I was very pleased when I received this message the other day from one of our community partners:

"Hi Ann-
It was a pleasure meeting your students on campus for their orientations and then seeing them come to Central. Several stopped by to say hello to me which I really appreciated! Having them write personal notes is so appreciated and a wonderful skill for them to use as they enter their prospective jobs."

And another message:

"I have enjoyed working with your students all semester long. Honestly, I think they’re the best batch we’ve had so far! All very smart, helpful and respectful. I had a blast reading all the thank you letters…I will be putting them up in my classroom so the students can read them too. I also look forward to another great group of tutors from you next fall!"

Spanish CSL is an opportunity to teach our students about translingual and transcultural competence. Writing thank you notes is an important part of working in the Latino community in culturally appropriate ways.

Student Reflection

by Haily Pribyl-Shay

Although there were numerous moments of pure fear and embarrassment this past semester at Leal, there was not a day spent without heartfelt gestures from students and staff that made me feel at ease.  I became familiar with the routines of my teachers.  I also understood what my purpose was in the classroom and how I was best able to help the students.

My routine usually began by sitting at my table in the corner of the fifth grade classroom.  I would observe the class and wait as they finished up their Daily Oral Language exercises.  The fifth graders would then be split up into vocabulary groups to check their homework, and I was assigned a student to help with their homework in spelling or vocabulary.  After working with the fifth graders, I would head to the second grade classroom.  There were two other volunteers in the classroom when I was there, so we usually spread ourselves out amongst the different activity stations.  At first nervous and intimidated by my first grade students, I quickly learned how I could make the most of my time in the classroom.  Working with students one-on-one helped to rapidly develop my speaking skills while also boosting my confidence as a volunteer in the classroom.  This gave me a more specific purpose, which helped to focus my attention and make the most of my time spent with students.  For example, helping children count coins in small groups, I learned the importance of patience and encouragement.  While some of the students did not want to participate in the activity or simply did not follow directions, I began to get frustrated.  I was having trouble thinking of commands to ask them to nicely put the coins back or count the money I had laid out in front of them.  I felt almost helpless not being able to communicate with my students, and I was frustrated with myself for not knowing how to say what I wanted to.  These types of situations persisted throughout my volunteer days, some more challenging than others.  Though looking back, I am thankful that I was able to learn from my mistakes and better understand what I need to work on as a Spanish student.

As the days dwindled down and I was fast approaching my last day in the classrooms, I attempted to make the most of my experiences at Leal. There was one moment in particular that helped boost my confidence as a language learner and further reiterated why I enjoy working in the classroom.  I was working with a group of fifth graders in the hallway, and I was not sure what one of the students should be doing with me because his homework had already been completed.  Speaking in Spanish to another student across the table, he said that he needed to finish his art project for another teacher.  I understood what he had said and assured him that it would be ok if he finished it quickly.  Although that was a small and insignificant moment for the student, I was proud of myself for understanding what he had said.  Trying to understand various age groups of Spanish speakers was more challenging than I thought.  Many times, I had no trouble in understanding what the second grade teacher said because I am used to hearing my professors at U of I speak in much the same way.  Being able to observe these differences and learn first-hand what it takes to communicate on a regular basis in a second language, I was given a unique and gratifying opportunity that has undoubtedly helped me grow as a Spanish speaker.  I think that I learned just as much, if not more, from the students as they had learned from me.  I hope to be able to use these skills and my newfound confidence as a Spanish speaker in future volunteer or teaching opportunities. 

Community-based Team Project Reflections

The objective of our team project is to create a handbook on ways of fundraising.  Our goal is to be able to give the next year’s class of SPAN 332 a guidebook on how to tackle the challenges of starting a fundraiser.  This includes information on how promote an image (branding), networking in the community (starting a fundraiser), and fundraising ideas specifically in the Champaign area (outlining the pro’s and con’s).  We’ve divided our project into three main components in which we think will be usefully information to pass down to the next group of students enrolled in Spanish 332.

One of the challenges that we faced as a group was figuring out the initial steps of starting a fundraiser.  We found it difficult in planning a fundraiser without knowing what steps to take and without the tools to help us execute our plans.  Our group was very confused and slightly frustrated because we had no direction on what to do.  Since we felt like we were lacking the resources to start a fundraiser (no one in our group had experience with starting a fundraiser) we decided to brainstorm ways in which we could help the next group of students excel and actually accomplish a fundraising event.  We took advantage of working in a group by compiling our ideas and textbook knowledge into an organized packet.  This is a resource in which we would have liked to have in the beginning of the semester and we hope that it would help spark ideas and initiate action for the next students who choose to work on the any fundraising project. 

So what?
The objective of our team project is to assist future Spanish 332 classes in designing a fundraiser that can help benefit the local schools, i.e. Champaign Central. Working with this objective in mind, we feel that a fundraiser is a great way to apply the concepts that will be learned in class along with an extensive knowledge of community service learning. In this class we have reviewed concepts relating to starting a social business, likewise, a fundraiser is a kind of social business in which an objective/goal must be established (who is being helped, and how much is needed?), a service or product needs to be offered (what will people buy/need?), a target market needs to be established (who will purchase the service or product?), an initial investment is needed to get started (to purchase materials, products, etc.), a service or product will be provided (i.e. one of our examples was to sell food and/or beverages), donations are accepted (i.e. canning), and the profits are used to benefit those in need (i.e. the local schools and their students). Having to go through these steps will not only reiterate the concepts learned in class, but also require the students to work closely with the community and understand their problems and needs and how they can be helped.  

Now what?
I believe that this group project is important in the long term as it provides a basis for future students to generate ideas about how to develop a fundraiser and how to maximize its efficiency for a local community organization. Often times the hardest part of a project is the first step, and just having a few suggestions with how to take that first step can make all the difference. Ideally students will be able to use this in all their organizations to be able to gather funds and increase awareness of the issues the organization deals with in the community. In my mind the most successful project would be the creation of an annual fundraiser that becomes a well known event in the community and is able to bring a lot of like minded organizations together, spread awareness in the community, and financially benefit local service organizations. Structuring such a project is ambitious, but with community members and the support of the class I really believe that even the most ambitious is possible.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Community-based Team Project Reflection

Team: Brianna, Carrie, Mackenzie and Claire
Our group wrote a grant proposal and request to Zip Car in order to expand the transportation for the Community-Based Learning classes offered by the Spanish Department.  Our grant request was for the Public Engagement Grant via the University of Illinois Department for Public Engagement.  This grant is for community-based projects that also relate to course development and educational benefits for students as well as tie in with the university’s mission.  Because Spanish in the Community and Spanish and Entrepreneurship are both community-based courses, the grant perfectly fits the needs of these students.  These courses use hands-on experience in the community to not only help students improve their Spanish language skills, but also develop a sense of understanding of the world around them.  Specifically in the second course, students learn how to use these skills to work with and develop non-profit organizations and social businesses.  Many students also work with community partners that specifically relate to their specific courses of study, such as education, business, or medicine.  If the department receives this grant, not only will more students be able to take the courses, but will also have more opportunities to volunteer in places that really need the help, as well as relate to their interests and post-graduation plans.

The University of Illinois campus separates itself from the greater community of Champaign County.  It is a relatively compact academic hub, and campus town is marked by visible boundaries that separate the “us” from the “them.” This university is a powerhouse of research and technology, of business education and betterment.  It is not yet, however, a powerhouse of service.  Large parts of the Champaign community remain depressed and disadvantaged: It is time to spread the immense wealth centered in this single public institution.  This wealth does not need to be financial; rather, we believe that UIUC’s greatest asset is its students, and we hope that they can become much more active in the community at large.  The students of Spanish 232 and 332 have distinguished themselves by integrating community service into their studies, and many community organizations, such as the Crisis Nursery, SOAR and ECIRMAC have benefited from the steady supply of volunteers. Though Spanish 232 and 332 increase students’ awareness of the needs of the greater community, currently, there are few resources to increase students’ access to the county as a whole.  There are still many underserved community organizations that stand to benefit significantly from a new source of volunteers.  

Having the ability necessary to write a successful grant proposal proves to have many professional benefits. All of our group members are seniors and we can ll pinpoint numerous skills we have developed through the course of our project. Carrie is looking to work with a non-profit organization--where she will undoubtedly be able to apply her knowledge of grants. Through the project, she has gained a basic understanding of how to write a grant request, as well as refined her skills in professional communication. The ability to explain the current problem at hand, provide a proposed solution, and ask for financial assistance are all key components to writing a grant proposal that will translate to success in a non-profit organization.

Next year, Brianna will be teaching high school science through the Teach for America program, which places teachers into regions that are in need. These areas are primarily low-income, and many students are performing far below the academic standard for their level. While teaching, Brianna will need to think outside the box to develop alternative, creative strategies to help her students. During the team project, we took a problem (transportation issues) and proposed a creative solution. Brianna will be able to apply these critical thinking and logic skills to her career as a teacher.

Claire is pursuing a career in marketing, where she will be using skills learned in writing the proposal and letter to ZipCar to not only request funding to expand the class, but to help market for ZipCAr and expand consumer knowledge of their company. Not only is she learning marketing through writing to ZipCar, but also in writing the grant proposal because she is passionate about it, with hopes of growth in volunteer opportunities in the community, and marketing for the Spanish 232 and 332 classes.

Mackenzie is looking to find a career in business. She will be able to use the experience of dealing finally, forming the budget, with the grant as a way to further her knowledge of business practices which will someday help her in her career. She has seen what it looks like to be specific and precise in making a budget.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Community-based Team Project Reflections

Team: Grace, Maggie and Val

Our team Valentino Contri, Maggie Flynn and myself, GraceLarson, worked to design and present information about our two community basedlearning Spanish classes to the community at a local symposium and showcase.The classes we are presenting are Spanish 232, Spanish in the Community andSpanish 332, Spanish and Entrepreneurship, designed and taught by our professorAnn Abbott. Our audience was the Public Engagement Symposium, which took placeat the ARC on April 18th, and the Service Learning and Social EntrepreneurshipShowcase which will be taking place in the Illini Union on May 2nd.

Our mission was simple: Effectively provide informationabout our classes to the professors, students and community members whoattended the showcase and symposium, as well as receiving feedback from them.We aim to spread the word about this class; where we are involving ourselves inthe community, and why. Not only are we looking to inform future students, butinform other professors about this style of service learning, and informcommunity members about how we are getting involved in their community, and howthey as well can be getting involved.

We began our project by parceling off pieces of work weknew that needed to be done. Val was responsible for a handout that spoke aboutthe two classes; their similarities and differences, that contained ourprofessors contact and blog information. Maggie was responsible for making ahandout of student ‘reflections’, which we obtained by doing a short writtensurvey in class of people’s reactions and memories towards this class andtowards their community experiences. I myself focused on making a handouthighlighting the many community partners we work with in this class; and whatis our mission as we go to work at those places. I also worked closely with Annto create a poster that would be attractive, and attention grabbing- giving themost important information without over-elaborating. We all took photos in ourcommunity settings to visually show what we were doing in the community. Valeven interviewed one of our classmates Stephanie who was doing a fantasticafterschool athletic program in Leal School; he even attended and filmed partof the program!

When it came to the actual presentation, Val, Maggie andI came to the symposium with our handouts, poster, and even some cupcakes Imade, in hand. We posted our informationand proudly stood by our table, speaking with many people- professors,students, and other community members about our program, and in turn learningwhat they had to share and what programs they were involved it. It was awesometo spread the word about our class, but I think we got more out of it then wethought as we interacted with others and learned about their programs and goalsin the program. It was a challenge to coordinate it all and make happen- butoverall, we achieved our mission, and learned more than we even thought we would.Hopefully we can only improve it for the next Showcase!

¿Y qué?
The symposium was a great opportunity to explain whatspanish in the community offers to both the students taking the courses and thecommunity that they serve. As a presenter, it was great to reflect upon what wedo in the community and also how our community partners have made an impact onus. But, the most beneficial part of the symposium was the collaboration thatoccurred between the different public outreach programs. We informed severalpeople about what we do in the community, but we also had the opportunity tolearn about other programs and ways that they were working to make adifference. This gives the possibility of future collaboration between thedifferent programs that could make an even bigger impact. The exchange of ideasbetween these like-minded people will only inspire improvement that willultimately benefit everyone.

¿Ahora qué?
Representing Spanish 232 and 332 at the Symposiums has taught us how to professionally present a concept to a group of people. Having to create materials and set up our space allowed us to prepare the information and ourselves. We learned the importance of combining points of information, personal reflections, and adding visual appeal. Beyond the creation and marketing of the presentations, we also got to practice networking.

Individuals would approach our table and ask us what the courses are about and the benefits they provide. In order to answer their questions in the best way possible, we really had to use our interpersonal communication skills. It was not the time to be shy! With a smile on our faces, we needed to be able to demonstrate the value that these courses have for their students and the community. IN a way we were "selling" Spanish 232 and 332. And many who approached our table had no idea these courses existed. However, after hearing our personal opinions and experiences, they often left saying that these courses sound wonderful. Some even thanked us for our work!

We were also lucky enough to speak with some of the other presenters at the symposiums and hear that they wanted to collaborate with us. A few examples of interested organizations included the Office of Volunteer Programs, a graduate student project on non-profit management, and local businesses that simply need some Spanish speakers. Making these connections with others and figuring out ways in which we could share ideas helped us practice our networking skills and taught us how useful they can be (especially now that we're all graduating). Overall, this was a very useful and helpful project to be involved in.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Community-based Team Project Reflections

Team: Susana, Joy and Alex

The goal of our group project was to complete a service-learning grant application proposal for the State Farm Youth Advisory Board (SYAB).  Each year the SYAB service-learning grant is awarded to projects around the country, with funding up to $100,000. We selected the Access to Higher Education/Close the Achievement Gap issue area because we felt that we can relate to the issue because of the volunteer service that we are involved in.  Our team member, Susan, Alex and I all volunteer in an educational setting; Susan during school hours and Alex and I work with an after school program (SOAR).  We agreed that the education issue area was something that we are most passionate about.  At the beginning of our project, we did a lot of research into the grant application and other service-learning projects in order to fully understand what kind of projects the SYAB usually supports.  The next steps involved speaking with Professor Abbott and SOAR coordinator to learn more about the projects that we’re involved and to see how they can be expanded with more funding.  We had to work through some technical details to make sure that we qualified to apply to the grant.  The initial stages of crafting an approach to the grant application was challenging because we had no previous knowledgeable about the grant application process or the needs of the programs that we were trying to expand.  As a group we met with Professor Abbott several times to discuss her ideas and integrate them with our own.  After brainstorming we finally divided up the questions on the grant application and began to write. Several challenges arose with the writing; the first was a consistency in our language and the second was a tendency to exceed the character limit.  It was also challenging because the ideas that we had for the grant proposal were still abstract in our minds, so framing answers to the questions were tricky.  Also, the grant application itself was just much longer than we expected it to be overall.  To address this, our group set mini-goals to accomplish in the upcoming weeks to the grant deadline.  However, as we were working along we heard back from the University that we would need to receive the appropriate approvals, pushing the deadline ahead by weeks.  At this point, our team felt a little overwhelmed but we did our best to make revisions to the writing that we had already done and to outline responses to those answers that we didn’t have.  In the end, we had to submit an unfinished product to Professor Abbott for her to take on the rest. We felt that we did the best we could in the time that we had. The grant proposal was beyond the scope of our team to complete in its entirety; however the proposal process drew out many great ideas and promoted excellent critical thinking in order to frame meaningful responses. --Joy

Through writing the State Farm Youth Advisory Board Grant, our team realized the importance of the symbiotic relationship between the University and the Urbana-Champaign community.  We have a lot to offer to the local community in terms of resources and volunteer efforts.  Yet the community also has a lot to offer to the University.  We are exposed to new cultures and experiences, and the community broadens our horizons.  In part, our grant proposal served to strengthen the outreach efforts of the University to provide academic resources to the Latino youth community in Urbana-Champaign during the critical summer months.  The beauty of service learning is that both parties -- in this case, the University students and the community members -- benefit from the experiences.  Additionally, our team learned how to write a grant.  More importantly, however, we discovered how to articulate, clearly and concisely, our ideas to better society. --Alex

Overall, this project has exposed us to the grant-writing process, the difficulties that come with a project of this size, and the process of visioning the future of the Spanish service-learning program. Writing the grant, especially as a team of three with a faculty liaison, helped us develop strong writing and teamwork skills, which we can apply to whatever we do in the future. We also experienced all the planning and research components that go into writing a grant, which will serve us if we ever apply for another one. The challenges we faced--particularly the challenge of putting together such a large document before a deadline--showed us that some projects are beyond the scope of what three students can do and delegating is necessary. It is disappointing that we were not able to fully complete the grant proposal, but we hope that future students and faculty will use our proposal as a foundation for getting a successful grant proposal off the ground. Creating a vision of what the Spanish service-learning program is capable of was very rewarding and gave us great hope for the future of the class. We evaluated what the program looks like now and what aspects are beneficial. Then we identified areas that need work/finding and created new opportunities for the classes that would only work with financial resources. With or without funding, the future of this program looks very bright and we are happy to have been a part of an effort to make it grow. Now that the ball is rolling, we would like to see this grant be put into action int he future. As for our futures, writing the grant proposal for this program enriched our experience withing the class and developed skills we will always be able to use in the future. While a challenge at times, we took a lot away from this experience and look forward to seeing what great impact this program has on the CU community in the future. --Susan

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Partnering with the Community via Service Learning

by Ann Abbott

I am excited about today's conference at the iHotel on the UIUC campus-- Responding to Immigrants: Bridging Research and Practice to Meet the Needs of immigrants in New Growth Communities.

My session is a workshop--"Partnering with the Community via Service Learning"--from 1:30 - 3:00 in the Humanities Room. (You can see the entire conference schedule here.) It will be a "how-to" workshop, designed specifically for people who want to start a CSL course or program. Community representatives will be welcomed as well; sometimes the initiative for a CSL course comes from the community itself.

Here are some materials that I will share during the workshop.

SPAN 232 "Spanish in the Community"
Syllabus / Course calendar

SPAN 332 "Spanish and Social Entrepreneurship"
Syllabus / Course calendar

Course quiz, contracts and permissions

Wiki student sign-up

Wiki student work log

Community-based team projects

Spanish CSL Facebook page

Reflective Essay Prompts

Community-based Team Project Reflections

Team: Megan, Alicia, Katie and Jaclyn

Nuestro grupo tuvimos un proceso largo llegando al concepto de nuestro proyecto, pero finalmente decidimos hacer un proyecto creando videos informativos sobre diferente formas de tecnología.  Nosotros enfocamos en como crear una cuenta de Skype. Primero, tomamos un foto de cada paso y explicamos en español que necesita hacer para crear su propio cuenta.  Incluimos como cargar Skype, crear una cuenta, comprar dinero para llamar a un teléfono fijo y como llamar otra gente con una cuenta de Skype. Trabajamos juntas para crear el video y dividimos los objetivos de la propuesta para que cada persona harían la misma cantidad de trabajo.  Creando un video fue muy divertido, también hicimos todo con la meta que es fácil para entender.  Con el video, vamos a ponerlo en un blog que creamos con la esperanza que las próximas clases continúan haciendo videos de diferente tecnologías para el consumidor. 

Cómo llegamos al proyecto
Al principio, nuestro grupo decidió trabajar con la Profesora Abbott en escribir una beca. Queríamos aprender sobre el proceso de escribir y proponer una beca pero los detalles específicos de esta beca nos dejaron muy confundidas y perdidas. El programa requiere un elemento de tecnología que no pudimos incluir y tambpoco pudimos implementar el producto si hubiera sido escogido como proyecto. Por eso, decidimos cambiar el proyecto. Tuvimos muchas ideas cómo hacer una guía de todas las becas asociadas con el mundo hispanohblante o crear una guía de instrucciones para escribir una beca. Sin embargo, estas ideas no incluyeron el elemento de tecnología que nos costó el primer proyecto. La Profesora Abbott no dio la sugerencia de identificar una manera de integrar los estudiantes de ingeniería y la tecnología con Spanish in the Community. Entonces, empezamos de nuevo y formarmos una idea bien útil y también fácil de continuar en los semestres que vienen. Vamos a hacer vídeos instruccionales (tutoriales) sobre la tecnología. Sólo vamos a hacer un video sobre Skype, pero para los estudiantes en el futuro, vamos a crear un blog que pueda actuar como un recurso de videos y listas de vocabulario. Fue un proceso difícil y teníamos miedo de no decidir nunca qué proyecto hacer, pero al final, ¡estamos muy contentas con el producto!

¿Y qué?
Nuestro proyecto, el video “Como hacer y usar una cuenta de Skype,” es importante pero el propósito del proyecto es más importante. Más de enseñar un miembro de la comunidad hispanohablante de Champaign-Urbana como hacer y usar Skype, queremos empezar a reunir las áreas de español e ingeniero. Es un pensamiento intrigante porque son áreas que no son muy relacionados, pero, podíamos reconocer muchas necesidades técnicas a través de la comunidad hispanohablante de Champaign-Urbana. Para establecerse en una comunidad nueva para un inmigrante recién llegado, necesita saber algunas cosas técnicas que un estudiante de español no sabe, como instalar una televisión, comprar un servicio de internet, etcétera. Un estudiante de español con un estudiante de ingeniero pueden crear algo, por ejemplo un video, ¡que puede explicar bien la tecnología pero también en español! Nuestro proyecto solo es un comienzo de esta idea.

¿Ahora qué?
Our project proposal includes many ideas for how-to videos that future SPAN 332 students can create.  These videos can be then be uploaded to an online blog for easy community access.  We decided to include possible videos dealing with subjects such as “how to create a Gmail account” and “how to set up a TV” because these are important skills people should have in today’s modern world.  Advancement in technology also requires new ways to educate a diverse range of consumers in how to use that technology.  Spanish-speakers, for example, need culturally and linguistically appropriate ways to learn how to set up a Skype account (our video), an email account, a Facebook account, and other technologies.  As of now, few resources such as these exist to help people who speak other languages.  These how-to videos are a great way to spread knowledge to everyone. A whole series of videos or business of how-to videos dealing with technology can be created in a variety of languages, from Spanish to Swahili. Hopefully, our blog and videos can give people access to the world in ways they never thought were possible. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Community-based Team Project Reflections

Melissa, Brendan and Carlos

La Línea es una línea de apoyo para inmigrantes en lachampaign-urbana comunidad. Desde cuando empezó su misión ha cambiado un poco.Al principio La Línea fue dirigido hacia inmigrantes hispanos, pero hemosdescubierto que hay muchos inmigrantes en nuestra comunidad que necesitanapoyo, no solamente hispanos. Por eso La Línea ha decidido ampliar su alcancepara ayudar a más gente. El problema que tiene La Línea es que mucha gente nosabe de nosotros y por eso nuestro grupo quiere hacer un video para informar a másgente de lo que hace La Línea. Nuestrovideo será muy corto y casi como un comercial para La Línea.

So what?
La Línea Latina is a helpline that connects people,specifically immigrants, with contacts and resources within the community. Itis also dedicated to social justice. La Línea is a collaboration betweenUniversity of Illinois students and the University YMCA with the goal ofbridging the gap between the Latino community in Champaign and communityservices. Clients can call La Línea any day or time and their volunteers willevaluate the situation and either serve as representatives for the client orseek out information that can be helpful, making use of external resources. La Línea is very important for the Latino community inChampaign because although there are many support services within thecommunity, immigrants often do not use them due to lack of knowledge aboutthem, lack of trust, or not having the proper connections to utilize them. Thisorganization provides immigrants with knowledgeable representatives that theycan trust who will do whatever is necessary to make sure that their situationreceives the attention and resources that it requires.

Now what?
With the video that we made, we have informed many people out there that they are not alone. There is help out there for them, and I think we have achieved our goal of informing them. La Línea helps many different people without any if's or but's and this has really showed us a lot. We have learned to lend a helping hand no matter what it is. Even if we cannot personally help them, there are my out there than can. If we at least point them in the right direction we have helped. Within Champaign we have spread the word of what La Línea is, and our next goal is to let others in other cities know about it, too. Hopefully La Línea can grow and help many others like they do here. I am positive that others can learn just as much as we did from this experience.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Community-based Team Project Reflections

Team: Rebecca, April, Ramia and Brenda
Our group intended to write a social media marketing plan to promote the course SPAN 232 and then implementarlo. Por la razón que ya existe un grupo en Facebook para Spanish community service learning, we wanted to make sure to incorporate it into our project. Also, because our professor has a Twitter page that she uses to promote Spanish community service learning, we wanted to use it to promote the class as well.

Although we knew that we wanted to use Facebook and Twitter, we did not plan out details as to how we were going to use them. What we ended up doing was sending out mass emails to registered student organizations (RSO) and departments on campus that we thought would have students that would be interested in the course. IN the email we included links to the Facebook and Twitter page so that students could learn more about the program and "like/follow" the pages if they desired, but we didn't do very much with those pages to reach out to our target population (students who might be interested in the course).

In general, we were successful in promoting SPAN 232 (via email) and were successful in writing a marketing plan. But we were not successful in taking full advantage of Facebook and Twitter as forms of social media.

¿Y qué?
We learned various useful things from working on this project! We have come to understand that marketing is very complex and we need to study it a lot more to advertise our class efficiently and effectively. Effective marketing by way of social media requires innovative strategies. I don't think we were able to use all of our resource to create and implement the best strategies this time. I think we would need more group meeting time and more people than we have to promote our class in the best ways. Although the listervs we used are indeed social networks, in order to have a strong presence in popular social media we would have needed more people so that each one could focus on a medium. With a larger team we would have been able to make more frequent posts and to interact with people who are interested in our class.

To summarize, we learned that the task of social media marketing is challenging in many ways. To be well-prepared for a project like this, a team should have knowledge of marketing, several available team members, and focus on media that will make implementation of the plan effective and efficient.

¿Ahora qué?
As the semester closes, we are finalizing our social media marketing plan. Included in our plan is a benefits section describing the various skills that are acquired and refined in the SPAN 232 course. Some of the skills listed are leadership, communication, time management and team building. Our team project has functioned as a reminder that these skills continue to grow through the SPAN 332 course. We were able to come together using these skills to collaborate ideas and develop a plan. While everything did not turn out the way we anticipated, the learning experience that we took from this project was not halted. The skills we acquired are very transferable to our future endeavors. Particularly, we learned to adapt to changes, which will be necessary as we transition from lives as college students to the work force.

Now that we have created a marketing plan for the course SPAN 232, we have many hop0es for the future of this program. Our idea in general was to bring awareness of the class, SPAN 232, to more students on campus. We wanted to exemplify the benefits and all the amazing experiences the students who take this class get to be a part of.

We hope that our marketing strategy can be used every year to increase the participation and interest in classes like SPAN 232 and 332. We tried to design a simple way of marketing this class using Facebook and Twitter. We know that by using these two popular social medias we can reach massive audiences on campus. Our steps include posting and tweeting a personal quote from a current student of 232 and 332 on a consistent basis, or a picture. This is something fairly simple that can be kept up with the semesters to come. We hope that with these ideas the promotion of SPAN 232 can continue.

Eventually, we hope that other classes and courses find out about all the benefits of courses taught this way and become interested in setting up their classes this way.