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.

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