Thursday, May 9, 2013

Student Reflection

by Susannah Koch

The End of the End

It took a lot of will power to write this final blog post for many reasons: 1) most of my motivation to do work is gone (senioritis is in full effect), 2) I refuse to believe that everything is ending and that I am graduating, and 3) this is the very last school-related assignment of my undergraduate career. I cannot believe that things are coming to an end in so many aspects of my life. There are a lot of things that I am going to miss about going to school here, and some things that I will happily leave behind. This semester has been a very busy one, full of preparing to apply to medical school, maintaining my grades whilst everyone around me takes an “easy” final semester, attempting to find a job and having fun. I think that I am ready for what comes next in my life, but there will definitely be a transition period from the life I have led the past four years.

Spanish and the Community and Spanish & Entrepreneurship have been two very unique and wonderful experiences. They have really helped direct me to the place that I am today and have given me confidence in myself and my abilities as a Spanish speaker. This past semester was no exception as it gave me more insight into who I am, what I can handle and exposed me to new resources. I finished my volunteering in the community last week after another exhausting two hours watching four little girls with Vida Alegre. I will admit that my time with Vida Alegre was not what I had in mind going into the experience, but I enjoyed the opportunity to speak in Spanish much more than I usually do and work with kids. I had a few trying moments in which I just wanted to leave the room to breathe, but kids are hard work and you need to have patience and keep cool to be successful. My last few hours with them was no exception, but I had been thinking about activities I could do with them the day before and had remembered how much fun my friends and I would have with our cootie catchers/paper fortune tellers. I made one an hour into the evening and then had requests for three more from the other girls. Sadly they were not interested in learning how to make them, but they had a lot of fun asking each other questions and giving silly answers.

I also met a lot of really wonderful people through Vida Alegre and my interest in psychology has been re-sparked after a two year hiatus from psychology classes at the University. Shinwoo, the project manager of Vida Alegre and our main supervisor, is a wonderfully kind and understanding person. We had the opportunity to chat the last time that I was there and I can see that she really values our help as volunteers and our observations of the children. Overall, my experience was a rich one and I had just as many laughs with the children as moments of pure frustration- one evening one of the children poured her goldfish all over the floor while maintaining eye contact with me. Shinwoo kindly organized an end of the year lunch for all of the Vida Alegre staff. It was a great opportunity to talk with the people who do the more clinical side of the program and learn about the other site in Rantoul.

I have learned so much over the past four years and my time in the two community service learning classes has really contributed to my growth. When I came back from studying abroad I had a quarter-life crisis and was no longer sure of what I wanted to do with my life. It was my volunteer experiences with Provena Hospital in the Language Services Department that reminded me of why I was pursuing medicine and I found the passion I was missing. I cannot thank Ann enough for the opportunity that she gives students with these two classes-they are truly gems of the university. Thanks for everything! 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Student Reflection

by Susannah Koch

The Group Project: La segunda presentación!

As I described in one of my earlier blog posts, part of our grade in Spanish 332 consists of participation in a group project with a few classmates. Marlee, Taylor and I have worked a lot over the semester preparing the documents for two presentations, and last Tuesday we finished our project at the Service Learning Showcase. I was expecting the same sort of set-up as the Public Engagement Symposium, but was surprised to find that this was much more about student-driven initiatives. The showcase consisted mainly of Learning in Community (LINC or ENG 315) courses, where each team of students had to present on the project they worked on all semester. We found ourselves a bit out of place as student after student came up to our table and asked us to “explain our LINC project”. Despite this SPAN 232 and 332 fit in really well with the other projects as we still have goals for all of our community volunteering and there are major benefits to both the student as well as the community. The students had to fill out a worksheet about various other projects and so they all asked roughly the same four questions. We all got pretty good at answering them and it sparked some conversation between us as we were asked to reflect on our own experiences. The question “In what ways can the project be improved” left us thinking more so than the other questions. I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience in both of these Spanish courses, but have not taken the time to think of how they could be improved. We ended up saying that we could benefit from more location or task-specific training in our given volunteer position. In addition to this training, we also think that creating a document with past volunteers suggestions and experiences might help make things easier on the new volunteers.

Going into the first symposium we knew very little about what to expect or how to talk about the class in a more structured and formal environment. At this second presentation we were more comfortable answering questions and had learned what parts of our multi-media presentation were most effective. For example, we had not taken into account the amount of noise within the room during the first symposium and, therefore, were disappointed to find that our video was too quiet for people to hear given the noise surrounding our table. We decided against the video for the second showcase and I think that it was for the best as this presentation required much more interaction and talking than the previous one. The handouts were taken by a few students and some seemed generally interested in taking the class, which was great to hear. The poster seemed to be a point of confusion and interest to some students as it was all pictures and very different from the others around the room. One student even went so far as to say he did not like the poster because it was so simple. We explained that that was intentional, but you cannot please everyone! Overall the evening went well and we got to talk to a lot of students about the impact that SPAN 232 and 332 have on the community and we even presented in Spanish to a few Spanish-speaking students.

This group project was a wonderful opportunity to spread the word about the great things that these Spanish in the Community classes are doing on campus and around CU. I also ended up making new friends and enjoying the time we spent together working on all of the components!