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Showing posts from December, 2012

Student Reflection

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by Flora Ramirez


With the semester finally coming to a close, I can genuinely say that I am grateful for all of my experiences with both La Línea and CLACS. While both experiences were very different from one another, they were able to further inform my personal interests in very unique ways.  
My work with CLACS “Story Time” helped me value culture.  I realized the importance of exposing children to other cultures and the positive impacts in can have. By creating this sense of awareness, parents and teachers can begin to foster respect for people of various backgrounds. To some extent, my time at CLACS even taught me to further value my own culture and my parents’ success with passing down our traditions and language to me.
Even though my time with La Linea was short, I felt extremely involved with the two cases I was part of.  Here, I realized how important my language and culture was in terms of making myself personable to community members.  I was able to use my own experiences and …

Student Reflection

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by Megan Creighton

Un Abrazo Fuertísimo
My time as an undergraduate came to a close today after I handed in one final paper. I had toiled over this research throughout the entire semester and spent the last two weeks almost entirely devoted to writing my paper on it. It was the last remaining requirement for my anthropology degree, and I had always imagined that the moment of completing my senior capstone would be triumphant and rewarding. So I finally finished my paper early this morning, and I trudged through the violent wind and rain to at last hand it in. When I left the building, there was no big “hurrah” or celebration. Besides experiencing some moderate sense of relief, I left the building feeling quite underwhelmed.
In this last week as an undergraduate, I experienced many “lasts”.  I spent hours finalizing this last paper. I took one last written final. I worked my last shift at my student job. I used my I-card for the very last time. But the only “last” I think that will be t…

Student Reflection

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by Daniel Cox

[My apologies, this post appears out of order because I accidently posted it to a different blog. So, here is a look back at the earlier days of this semester and Daniel's experience with his community partner. --Ann Abbott]


My transition to the office
My community project this semester involves interpreting, translating, and general clerical work for the Frances Nelson Dental Center through Smile Healthy. I initially chose to complete my volunteer assignment through Smile Healthy because I had not previously used my Spanish in an office setting. Throughout my first three years at the University of Illinois, I’d spent several hours in a classroom setting, assisting ESL students and tutoring students in Spanish. That being said, Smile Healthy offered the opportunity to try something new:  working with Spanish speakers over 17 years old and using a set of vocabulary that I usually do not use.
One of the hardest challenges I’ve faced was adjusting to the medical terminology…

Student Reflection

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by Flora Ramirez


With the end of the semester just around the corner I decided I would try and pair up with a second community partner in order to fulfill my required twenty-eight hours of service for this class. I decided to get in contact with La Linea.  This is a pilot program at the University YMCA that is staffed by volunteers that provide phone information service in the form of basic translation and interpretation. I was particularly drawn to this group because I had worked with them as a sophomore when the program was initially taking off.  After contacting Francisco Baires, the Community Programs Director, I was able to meet with him and another volunteer by the name of Carolina.  During our meeting we discussed what La Linea had evolved into in my absence and what our own person abilities could bring to this program.  Having explained to them my interest in speaking more with immigrant community members they then presented to me a new case they were involved with and asked if…

Activism and Community Service Learning: Providing Models to Our Students

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by Ann Abbott

One of my goals this semester while teaching "Spanish in the Community" was to enhance my emphasis on civic engagement. In a way, it came easily because this semester coincided with the Presidential election. However, I want students to see that they can become active citizens, even activists, outside of the polls and beyond national issues.

In future semesters I will use the image above to build a lesson plan including the following points:

Students research what legislation is pending now.Students research what politicians on this list are still in office, which are not.Students research what happened with the bill that is listed.Students produce a script about an item for which they want to advocate now. Advocacy can seem like a mysterious concept, a mysterious process. Messages like the one above demystify the process and give students models about how to organize themselves into groups and imagine new roles for themselves within the political process.
That&…

Student Reflection

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by Flora Ramirez
While I am still working with CLACS, I am consistently spending more time working with La Línea.  I must admit that I underestimated the fast-paced nature of this position.  This is derived from La Línea’s genuine understanding that life is unplanned.  Thus, they tailor their services to meet the unpredictability that characterizes the lives of individuals. This means that the hours of operation are more flexible and prompt responses are crucial.   
Even though the variance in the hours of operation can make it difficult to keep track of my hours, I appreciate how closely this position reflects real life community activism.  The duties entailed at La Linea never appear to remain static. By these I mean that people can call about real life problems and so their concerns are wide-ranging. I will confess that when I realized people could call to ask for help with just about anything, I was a bit apprehensive.
However, I soon realized that one of the reasons behind La Línea…

Student Reflection

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by Michelle Lee

When you walk into the second grade classroom, there is a bulletin board about the various attitudes that are conducive to a healthy learning environment. From the photo, examples of these attitudes include respect, enthusiasm, empathy, and integrity among many others. Not only are these qualities important for the students in the development of their character, they are also crucial for tutors and other community volunteers to possess as well. These sheets of paper are posted all throughout the school on bulletin boards in the hallways as well as at the main entrance. I was actually surprised that these kids were already learning very advanced words that I feel like I learned in middle school! One word that stands out to me the most is integrity; I see it everywhere, which suggests that it is something that is stressed a lot at Garden Hills. Telling the truth is something that I find extremely important to working in the community for both volunteers and community membe…

Student Reflection

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by Michelle Lee

During the last week of SOAR, the students made the tutors cards thanking us for working with them this semester. Working at SOAR for the past semester has given me a lot to think about. Initially I requested to work with fourth and fifth graders, but I never thought that I would be comfortable working with such young children. In the beginning of the semester I was very nervous because although I enjoy teaching, I do not like working with any children younger than high school age because I had a bad experience in the past teaching English to third graders in China. However, through SOAR, I was able to find greater comfort in teaching young children and have changed my perspectives on this.

SOAR has taught me how to have more patience working with young children, especially those who attend school in the United States and whose native tongue is a language other than English. I have greater appreciation for the efforts of elementary school teachers who work with these stu…

Student Reflection

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by Daniel Cox


Building Confidence
Throughout the course, we emphasized the importance of building our confidence in order to communicate with members of the community in both English and Spanish. On our final day of class, we all agreed that, rather than our actual Spanish skills, it was our confidence in using those skills that had increased most.
I started to consider how my own level of confidence had changed throughout the course. In terms of my Spanish use, the actual use of usted rather than tu was an aspect that I really needed to improve. On paper, the concepts make sense and I can apply them with ease. However, in reality, using the usted form for sentences or phrases that I almost always use with the tu form. For example, with many patients, I would spend a few minutes before the doctor arrived, speaking with them about general topics, their family, work situations, etc. These conversations broke the mold of the typical four-question interactions in the office. During these co…

Student Reflection

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by Erik Bingham

The End of the Start

It is already almost the middle of December and the semester is coming to an end much quicker than I had thought it would. It still feels like I just started working at ECIRMAC even though I have volunteered there almost thirty hours already. While I have finished my required 28 hours for the semester, my work in the community is far from over. I have already asked one of my supervisors if I could come in next week sometime when I am not studying or writing papers and she said she would never say no to extra help. I’m planning on going in at least twice next week like I normally do but if I am extra productive and don’t have to work on my final papers then I might go in another day as well. Next semester I am going to take Spanish and Entrepreneurship, which is the second class in the series of Spanish in the community at the University of Illinois. I am genuinely excited for this class because I am assuming that it will expand on what we have discus…

Student Reflection

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by Michelle Lee


Earlier last month, the students learned about the many ways to say “hello” in different languages. They excitedly greeted me in choruses of “Shalom!” and “Ni hao!” to show off the new words they had learned. These notecards are taped on the wall right by the classroom door so they are visible to everyone who enters and leaves.
This incident reminded me of the importance of diversity and the acceptance of different languages and cultures not only in the classroom, but also in the larger community as well. Although the students in the SOAR program are all Spanish speakers that come from Latino/a descent, there are other students in the class and school that come from very different backgrounds. Similarly, the local Champaign-Urbana community is made up of very distinct people, and it is their diversity that has helped mold the places they live and frequent into what they are today. Cultural diversity begins with acceptance, and as SOAR tutors we must learn to accept oth…

Student Spotlight: Laura Woodward

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by Ann Abbott

This is an update about a former student of mine, Laura Woodward. I recently received this message from her: 
"I will be attending UCD's (University of Colorado Denver) Masters Program in Counseling, and in three (long) years, I will be a certified therapist!! I am going to take the multicultural tract in clinical mental health counseling. I am currently working with children who have undergone traumas (neglect and abuse primarily) at a children's home. I love it, and I can't wait to start grad school!" Students who do their community service learning work at the Refugee Center are exposed to social work and get to closely observe the work of the bilingual counselors there. Even students who work with other community partners come to realize the importance of all the different kinds of jobs within human services and the important work they do for immigrant communities.

Laura and the program she has decided to attend are important examples for students…

Student Reflection

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by Daniel Cox
Maintaining Relationships
My last entry focused on the importance of establishing connections, which, interestingly enough, segues nicely into the topic I have decided to discuss for this entry:  maintaining relationships. During these last few weeks, I have begun to think about how I will try to keep in contact with the people I have grown to know during my time at the Frances Nelson Dental Center. Although I only spent 28 hours with them, I was able to share a lot of really great experiences with the regulars in the office. I was surprised when I considered how much I had learned about them personally and realized I’d developed a sense of belonging.
After almost three months of working with the same group of people, I felt a sense of comfort and trust. While the office generally had a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, there were several times when it transformed into a high stress environment. When confronted with an issue that I did not know how to solve, I had to rely o…

Student Reflection

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by Megan Creighton


LEAP
Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) is an initiative launched by the Association of American Colleges and University that promotes a  21st century liberal education in a nation that demands more college-educated workers and more engaged and informed citizens than in the past. This initiative challenges a traditional approach to education and instead defines a 21st-century liberal education as “an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change.” This includes providing students with a broader knowledge of the world, especially in areas of science, culture, and society, in addition to study in a specific area of interest, so that students can develop a sense of social responsibility and develop transferable, practical skills. The “Essential Outcomes” of this initiative include:
a) Knowledge of Human Cultures and the Physical and Natural World – (Study in science, social sciences, human…

Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 19.1: Connections to Languages

by Ann Abbott

Looking through the website for the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning I noticed two changes:
The editor, Jeffery Howard, is now at DePaul University. He used to be at Michigan.You can now see pdfs of past articles on-line. So, here is the pdf for my article with Darcy Lear titled "Foreign Language Professional Standards and CSL: Achieving the 5 C's."Although the latest issue (19.1 Fall 2012) contains no articles specifically addressing language issues, several articles are relevant to the work we do in foreign language CSL.
Emily W. Kane. "Student Perceptions of Community-based Research Partners and the Politics of Knowledge." This article concludes that it is possible for students to recognize community members as experts and co-creators of knowledge, as long as the course or project is well-designed. (That is true of almost anything that CSL can accomplish. Curriculum design is vital!) The author adds this very important piece of advic…

Peer Editing for Reflective Writing in a Community Service Learning Course

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by Ann Abbott

When we think about the Spanish undergraduate curriculum, we tend to focus on teaching writing in one course: students take "composition" and we're done. Of course students write papers throughout the curriculum, but the composition course bears the brunt of the work for teaching students how to write, and how to write in Spanish.

Spanish community service learning (CSL) also relies heavily on writing--specifically in the form of reflective writing.

The truth is, as we know, that we need to teach and re-teach writing in every single course. Furthermore, the type of writing we ask students to do--reflective essays--is a form that is, as far as I know, never taught in a typical composition course. Narrative, persuasive and analytical writing, yes. Reflective writing, no.

This topic deserves much more attention than I can give it here. But I this afternoon I attended a talk given by Florencia Henshaw about her research on peer editing in a fifth-semester gramm…

Student Reflection

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by Erik Bingham


Spanish in the United States
The history of the United States is largely a history of conquest. Europeans invaded and colonized previously settled lands and sadly, through years of warfare and disease, reduced the native population and presence in North America. However, the present boundaries of the United States could have been dramatically different. There were many plans throughout the early years of the American republic for the annexation of Canada, Mexico, Cuba, and other Caribbean countries. As a student of history I love entertaining these ideas of alternative history- what could’ve been if things happened differently.
While these alternative history scenarios bring up their own historical problems and situations (like the possibility of a stronger Confederacy with Mexico and Cuba that could’ve won the Civil War), that would most likely change almost everything that has happened, they provide some food for thought. Assuming that there was an American Civil War a…