Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Student Reflection

by Susannah Koch

Public Engagement Symposium: A Unique Opportunity to Network

The month of February was a very busy one for me as I was starting to really dive into the job search for after graduation and the Public Engagement Symposium was February 28th with my group in Spanish 332. One of the main components of the class is an ongoing group project focused on a community event or organization. My group was originally just Taylor Eighmy and I, but we happily gained Marlee Stein after a few weeks. We decided to choose the symposium presentations project for the semester and have really enjoyed the process so far. The project consists of two presentations at two different symposiums at the beginning and end of the semester on the Spanish Community Service Learning Classes Spanish 232 and 332. The first of the two presentations, the Public Engagement Symposium, took place in the Illini Union and there was collection of organizations, classes, and projects that have a community outreach component represented at the symposium. It was a unique opportunity for networking, educating the public and improving each organization by learning what works for others.

After much discussion and planning at the undergraduate library, Marlee, Taylor and I decided to prepare a multi-media presentation. This included a colorful poster, key words, hand-outs and two computers; one with a video of interviews from students, community partners and Ann, and the other with the Spanish and Illinois Blog for perusal. I tackled the video using iMovie on the computers at the library and quickly discovered it takes time and patience to use the program, as well as good ears. It was a long process, but I think that it came together well and gave us an opportunity to include more people and community partners in our presentation directly. The hand-outs were about the two classes in general, what was similar and different between the two, and then there were two others with testimonials from past students of the classes who have integrated the skills they learned into their careers and life goals. I really enjoyed watching the video clips and talking to people about the class and how important it is to them because it has been so important to me. I especially enjoyed my interview with Ann Abbott as she is the brains behind the entire operation and the ideal example of taking initiative and helping make change locally.

All of our components turned out well, including the poster, which Marlee designed using several different pictures from students and community partners in action. We decided to focus more on the visual aspects of our presentation materials, with bright colors, large pictures and target words in Spanish and English also printed on colored paper. We definitely stood out from the other groups because our poster was simple, whereas a lot of the others were filled with information and various graphs. The presentation itself also went well because we had the opportunity to share our experiences, but to also learn from others. It was unexpected the amount of networking that we did in terms of looking for new opportunities for students who take the Spanish in the Community classes and of ways we can improve the experience for all parties involved. There also seemed to be a great interest in CSL classes from people, as it is something new on campus and of great value to our community.  

Thanks to all who helped make our presentation a success!

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