Tuesday, May 26, 2015

When Information Coalesces across the Spanish Curriculum

by Ann Abbott

Sometimes when you teach Spanish community service learning, it can feel like you're all alone. It can feel like you have to fill all the gaps in students knowledge about immigration, professional skills, specific vocabulary--and all in just one semester. 

It can feel like we're all teaching in different directions, with different goals.

And then...

Sometimes it can feel like our students take complementary courses, learning things that expand their understanding of the issues we see in a Spanish CSL course. 

Here's a message I received from a student this semester; the video is at the top of this post.

Hola Ann,  Quiero compartir un video muy poderoso que vi en clase hoy. Estoy en la clase SPAN 312 de Pilar Martinez-Quiroga. Es una clase de literatura espanola y Pilar eligio el tema de la inmigracion y la emigracion de Espana por este semestre.  Entonces hoy vimos el video parte 1 de "Europe or Die" cual es "Storming Spain's Razor-Wire Fence." Es sobre los Africanos intentando a entrar Melilla (tierra espanola en Marruecos) y llegar en Europa eventualmente. Hay una valla muy grande entre Melilla y el resto de Marruecos patrullado por la Guardia Civil.  Es muy interesante porque yo pensara que una muralla asi solo existia entre Mexico y los Estados Unidos, pero es casi lo mismo en Marruecos. Fue muy impactante para mi y me recuerdo mucho de la pelicula "Quien es Dayani Cristal?" y todos los asuntos de la inmigrancion latina de que hablamos en su clase en el semestre anterior. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Student Reflection

by Nicole Tauster

[A note from Ann: Dr. Glenn Martínez's talk took place early in the spring semester, but I am just now posting Nicole's reflection.]

La charla de Glen Martínez fue muy interesante, especialmente la discusión de la explotación de enfermeras hispanohablantes como traductoras en sus trabajos. Profesor Martínez presentó los resultados de una investigación hecho en un hospital urbano en Phoenix. Unas enfermeras quienes son habladores nativos de español contestaron preguntas sobre cuándo ellas usan su español en el hospital y cómo se sienten en esas situaciones. Muchas de ellas sentían que no pasaron bastante tiempo con sus pacientes porque los médicos que no hablen español siempre piden a las enfermeras por ayuda cuando tienen enfermos hispanohablantes. Esto no molesta algunas de las enfermeras porque ellas quieren ayudar a los enfermos expresar sus sentimientos mejor, pero otras se sentían mal o estaban nerviosas si pensaban que el nivel de su español no era suficiente para traducirlo todo. Pero el problema verdadero es esta explotación de la habilidad de hablar español sin reconocimiento o recompensación. Hablar español no es un requisito para trabajar en este hospital en Phoenix, entonces debe ser algo especial, algo extra que un candidato puede añadir al hospital. Pero no lo es; es una expectación de muchos de los empleados en el hospital.

Esto es casi el opuesto de que hemos aprendido en nuestra clase y de lo que hemos visto en nuestra comunidad en Champaign-Urbana. Aquí, yo creo, es algo bueno si Ud. pueda hablar español. No es una expectación de personas que hablan inglés como su primera lengua sino algo extra. Siempre estamos oyendo que hablar español tiene valor comercial; puede ayudarnos conseguir trabajos si somos bilingües. Me lo han dicho las mujeres de ECIRMAC y Azucena y otras en el Crisis Nursery también. Entonces es muy interesante que en las profesiones médicas, un área muy respetada, la habilidad de hablar español no está considerada algo especial que merece reconocimiento.

Espero que la situación de las enfermeras en el hospital de Phoenix sea un caso aislado y en otros lugares y profesiones sea diferente, pero la verdad es que no lo sé. Aunque no estoy segura, voy a continuar a creer que mi habilidad de hablar español es algo especial. Quizás si yo lo trato así, mis empleadores y los miembros de mi comunidad harán el mismo. 

How to Talk about Education Experience in Business-like Terms

by Ann Abbott

I wanted to share an email I received from a former student who worked with Teach for America. Aside from the fact that I am very proud of her work, I want students to take a close look at the second paragraph, where she has teased out the transferable skills that she developed while doing Teach for America.

Think about how you can do the same thing based on your Spanish community service learning work, community-based team projects (SPAN 332) and social media marketing (SPAN 202).

Here's her note to me:

How is everything going for you and your family back in Illinois?  I follow you on Facebook and it looks like all is going well!  I am just beginning my second year with Teach for America and already starting to think about post-TFA jobs.  I am applying for various business jobs, and hoping to land something international where I can use my Spanish skills.  

During my past year I have been very humbled by my experience here in the Delta, and although I am choosing a slightly more lucrative path, I have gained and continue to gain some very valuable experiences here.  For your students who are unsure what to do after graduation and are passionate about community service- I highly recommend TFA.  The skills I have gained in this environment are easily transferable to a business setting.  Communication, data analysis, organization, management, and working in a fast paced environment with no supervision have all lead to my heightened sense of readiness to successfully enter into the business field.

Student Spotlight: Kelly Klus in Colombia

by Ann Abbott

For all my students who think about living and working abroad after they graduate: this video tells Kelly Klus' story of living in Colombia and teaching English this past year.

Think about it! But don't over-think it. If Kelly had a good experience on this program, you know that you could, too.

Student Reflection

by Nicole Tauster

Knowing Your Audience

Obviously in the course Spanish and Entrepreneurship we are going to discuss entrepreneurship, but particularly social entrepreneurship. Throughout the semester one of the most important things we talked about was the fact that you have to create something that would solve a problem in the community and/or provide a needed product or service. If you don’t create something of value, what purpose will it serve? No one is going to want or need it and you won’t be making any difference. In order to really help a community or a specific group of people, you have to know what it is they need.

I think CU Immigration Project struggles somewhere around here… They are a wonderful organization, one that I had the opportunity to volunteer with a few times this semester, but they are lacking the knowledge to truly progress and make a difference. It’s not that they don’t know what the Latin American immigrants in the Champaign-Urbana need or that they aren’t providing useful services, because they are. They have passionate people working to help advocate for immigration rights and the resources to help people. The problem is that they just don’t know their audience well enough.

I volunteered to help at workshops CU Immigration Project put on to teach people about DACA and DAPA and how to check if they were eligible, apply, etc. And both times hardly anyone showed up. There were always plenty of volunteers, but no one for them to help. I thought it was very strange, especially considering each workshop was at a different time of day and different location. The second one was supposedly even more advertised than the first, yet even less people attended. One of the women in charge of the events actually confessed to me that she didn’t know why so few people were showing up. She speculated maybe some had to work during the day and so they were unable to attend, or perhaps they were afraid and thought that the legal processes were a trap. She admitted she didn’t know and needed to find out.

I myself can only speculate as to why hardly anyone attended these events, but it is up CU Immigration Project to investigate the causes for lack of attendance. They have so much to offer, but until they truly get to understand their target audience they will not be as successful as they can be.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Results of Community Based Team Projects

by Asilah Patterson & Marcos Camarillo


This semester our group focused on a social media marketing campaign for Darcy Lear who is a Spanish Lecturer at the prestigious University of Chicago. Here business, offers a variety of services including academics (writing coach for PhD candidates), job/career transitions (resume critiquing and interview preparation), and on campus workshops (interview preparations, professional school applications, and job search documents).

In a time like now when social media is extremely popular, we knew that we needed to utilize the most commonly used outlets in order to ensure that Darcy’s services would be publicized to the fullest. One major source that we utilized was Darcy's Twitter page, which was very beneficial to our project. Twitter allowed Darcy to be connected to other professionals that offered similar services while simultaneously promoting her own. Marcos and I were also aware of the “peak” hours of Twitter (which can be classified as the time of day where individuals are the most active on the website) and we recognized that Darcy needed to produce tweets during this time. We took into consideration the busy schedule of Darcy and decided to use a database called Hootsuite which gave Darcy the ability to plan her tweets from days to even weeks ahead. The database would automatically post her tweets which enabled her to market her services without the constant stress physically tweeting every three hours.

One important aspect of Spanish 332 that we also decided to use was the “hashtag”. In class, Professor Abbott spoke about the importance of the hashtag and how it has the ability to expose a smaller business to a broader audience. What is so fascinating about this is that it is completely free of charge. We were able to promote Darcy’s services faster and more efficiently.

In total, this campaign was very successful. Darcy has increased her Twitter followers and has received some clientele from this project. Although her numbers did not increase drastically, we are very content with our results. It takes time to build a strong foundation for a social media marketing campaign.

So what?

One thing that we have definitely learned from this experience is the importance of time management. In order for a social media marketing campaign to be successful one must constantly be engaged on various outlets of social media. We are full aware that life can be very busy so utilizing databases like Hootsuite, or SocialOomph will make marketing less time consuming.

We also recognized the importance of having multiple accounts on different platforms. During our project, Marcos and I completely forgot about our Facebook clientele and this is problematic because we could have potentially lost clients. By not staying actively engaged on both websites, we put our Facebook campaign at risk. We are now fully aware of how beneficial it is to pay close attention to multiple outlets of marketing.

In short, Marcos and I learned that there are easier ways to produce desired results. We also learned that it is imperative to be familiar with new technology so that it is easier to maneuver throughout the databases (Twitter, Facebook, Hootsuit, SocialOomph, etc.). As technology continues to evolve, I am certain that newer resources will be created for small business owners like Darcy Lear.

Now what?

With the videos and tweets we helped Darcy compose, we are also reaching out to a wide variety of people. The videos are posted on YouTube offering interview skills techniques in bothSpanish and English. Since YouTube is so widely used, the chance to reach out and affect others outside of the Champaign-Urbana community dramatically increases. A lot of the time, person who are looking for jobs aren't sure of how to appropriately respond to a lot of the questions. With help from such an academic professional, like Darcy, were able to best assist those needing guidance for their interview processes. Working with social media and Darcy has helped us learn a lot about the "twittersphere" and the plethora of people we actually reach out to. Even if we're not able to personally help these people, they can use any of the other videos Darcy's posted as references or also look up Darcy's Twitter for informative consulting and advising tips. Within the community it's important to spread the word about projects and people like Darcy. Being in such an academic setting, the advice is very useful for those seeking employment post-graduation or throughout their education. Although Darcy's Twitter followers have increased a lot as well with Facebook subscribers, there's still a long way to go. To maximize the effectiveness of Darcy's consulting, the course and community should follow and subscribe to her page. The easiest thing about this all is that it's so simplistic. It's either on Facebook, Twitter, or Darcy's blog so it's really accessible to the majority of people. Hopefully Darcy Lear's social media can grow to help a lot more people than just the Champaign-Urbana and UIUC community and that others may gain such insight from the very useful information.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Results of Community Based Team Projects

by Ken Kliesner, Shafia Murad, Annissa Zak, Julianna Ryuh


Our group took a different approach to the SPAN 332 project. We chose to search out grants to apply to that would allow us to get university funding for putting on an event that works with the Immigrant community. We ended up applying to the Service Learning Grant with a proposal to put on a DAPA registration event for the Champaign-Urbana Community, partnered with ECIRMAC (East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance center). A few of our group members had attended a similar event weeks prior and had seen the impact that it made on people’s lives and wished to continue making that impact! (If you’d like to learn more about DAPA visit this site: So our group wrote a grant which contained our proposal, the budget, and the impact that it would have on service learning at the university by hosting a DAPA registration event. Unfortunately, there was a federal court order which suspended DAPA implementation after we had submitted our grant, making it impossible to even register for DAPA. That's the only reason why we believe we didn't get it!

So what?

We learned a lot from this group project in which most of us had not really had much experience. Writing a grant proposal takes a lot of commitment and careful planning and it was definitely a new and very useful experience that offered us a lot of practical knowledge and understanding. Even though we were not awarded the Service Learning Grant, we still learned a lot about the DAPA program and how we could educate the immigrant community about it. Additionally, we developed some very useful teamwork skills and gained the necessary practice needed to write a winning grant proposal in the future, be it in the context of professional work, community service, or our future education and research. Not only did we write the best proposal that we could, but we had to ensure we completed all of the other requirements (filling out multiple forms, getting the proper signatures, researching prices and venues, ensuring our project would mutually benefit Illinois students and the community, etc.) on a very short timeline. We started this grant proposal just three weeks before the proposal was due, so we had a lot of work to do in a very short, finite amount of time and the fact that we completed everything with high quality and in a timely fashion shows that we efficiently and effectively worked together to accomplish our goal.

Now what?

Our group did not get any grants to continue with our project for DAPA. Through this project, we became more aware of DAPA and how it can be a huge help to undocumented immigrants from getting deported unfairly. We also found out how there is a community in Urbana-Champaign that helps undocumented immigrants with their applications.  Some of us are graduating this year, but even if we cannot personally help with DAPA in Champaign- Urbana, we will find volunteer opportunities to help the Latino community in different areas. Hopefully more volunteers participate in volunteering and the DAPA program gets reinstated by the federal government so more parents of children born in the United States can stay with their children.

Results of Community Based Team Projects

by Justin Chacko, Sheila Shenoy, Nicole Tauster


We worked with Dr. Pilar Egüez Guevara, editing and transcribing videos for her project entitled “Comidas que Curan”, the goal of which is to inform the younger generations of Esmeraldas, Ecuador about nutrition and how to make traditional foods in healthful ways. Dr. Guevara traveled to Esmeraldas and interviewed several abuelas about traditional dishes that they have been preparing for their families for years. She filmed these women preparing the dishes and then spoke with them afterwards about the preparation and personal connections they had to each food. We used a lot of the footage, which was in separate clips to help her edit the individual video segments and render them together into one cohesive product. We transcribed some of the clips by adding subtitles in certain parts to make a professional-looking final product that she could post on her website.

 So what?

It was important -- not only to us but also to Dr. Egüez Guevara -- that these videos were as professional and didactic as possible. While the cinematography was aesthetically pleasing, the most important point to get across was the information presented. Editing and putting together a short video merely showing how to make the recipes would have been simple, but the only way to truly relay the information presented was to add text and present it in an educational manner. The cultural aspects could have been featured in and learned from academic journals. However, we needed to take into account our target audience, the young “YouTube generation” of Millennials. The best medium to communicate with them is not through text, but rather through technology, specifically quick and fun videos they are probably more likely to come across.

Now what?

The video will reach a wide variety of people based on the format the information is presented in, as well as the fact that YouTube is a popular social media site that connects a vast, global audience. Many of these recipes are quite old and are not in any cookbook that can be found. Instead, these traditional dishes are kept only in the minds of the people of Esmeraldas and passed down orally from generation to generation. Through the videos, we are able to link the people of Esmeraldas, particularly the younger generations, and allow them to reconnect with their heritage and rich culture. Likewise, they can learn a little more about the nutritional benefits of the recipes from the videos and can lead healthier lives. As we were working through this project, we discovered a few key takeaways that we believed could contribute to our future success. Specifically, we were able to come up with creative ideas that apply directly to our plans for the following year. Some of our group members are involved with social media and digital marketing, and have found these videos as a way utilize video platforms to combine the aspect of culture with technology to disseminate cultural awareness to a wide audience. With some of our group members teaching abroad in Spain next year, we can effectively use the skills we have learned and used throughout the process of our project to share our experiences outside of the United States. Those interested will be able to learn a lot about a different culture, heritage, food and lifestyle.    

Results of the Community Based Team Projects

Shreya was the photographer.
by Shreya Vasavada, Kimberly Soto, Brittany McCauley, Vicky Pavlou


Our group had to attend two different events, one of which was Read Across America day and the other which was a Public Engagement Symposium. In order to maximize efficiency we split our group into two pairs and each pair worked on one of the event projects. Kimberly Soto and myself worked on the Read Across America project, While Shreya Vasavada and Vicky Pavlou worked on the Public Engagement Symposium. All four members of our group attended both of the events on the day they were scheduled and we worked together to carry out the activities that the events required us to perform. Also, to guarantee success, we all came together for group meetings and reported what we were working on. Everyone communicated efficiently and asked for help when needed. Read Across America was held on March 7th. For our project, we had to set up a table promoting reading in Spanish. At our table we provided Spanish books and four English books, and an activity in which kids could win candy prizes, if she/he solved a matching puzzle story. In order to create our game, we chose three Dr. Seuss books, both in English and Spanish and picked a page from each book. We created a poster of the pages and replaced all of the nouns with pictures describing them instead. The object of the game was to match the missing words to the corresponding pictures. The children were able to practice their Spanish by reading the stories we provided and playing this matching game. Some of the children knew very little Spanish, but we helped them read the poster. The Public Engagement Symposium, held on March 10th, was an event in which we had to create a booth in order to promote our Spanish 332 class and teach people what the class entails. For our booth, we made posters with pictures of the different community projects that our class offers, and we created an activity in which slips of paper with stats about our community partners were put into a bowl and people who approached our table had to choose one and decide what community program they thought the stat was about. We provided brochures people can read while passing by our booth. The brochures had more information about our class and testimonials. We had many material things on our booth, but I personally think the individuals enjoyed hearing us speak about the class,

So what? 

We noticed that we were one of few booths that offered activities in Spanish at the Read Across America event and we think it was very important to include the Spanish speaking community in events like these. Also, kids learn better when they first learn to read in their native language and then are taught reading and writing in English so it is important for them to come to these events and feel encouraged to read instead of feeling left out. We were also very excited to see how some kids wanted to see the words in Spanish even though they didn’t know any Spanish. We think it’s very important for kids at a young age to become aware of language and cultural differences in a community. Since there wasn’t many Spanish booths, there isn’t many Spanish speakers attending these events. If we are able to continue creating this program, I believe we will be able to attract a different population: Spanish-speaking population. It is important to gather different activities in Spanish and English to expose a diverse crowd. The very few Spanish speakers were shocked when they saw our booth, they always stated that there is never activities for their children who speak Spanish. The Public Engagement Symposium was a great way for other community members and UIUC staff and students to learn about SPAN 232 and 332. Community member that did not know of these classes were asking us for Professor Abbott’s email so that the students could help translate for various community events. Many individuals were intrigued about our class and the great things we do for the community. Hopefully, this was a great way to promote our class and get more people involved with the community.

Now what?

Through the various platforms that we were able to take part in, as mentioned in the previous section, there is still much work to be done not only on our projects but also other community projects. The Read Across America Campaign was a perfect place to be able to promote bilingualism through Spanish and English children’s books and reading activities. For the future students who take part in the campaign, it would be beneficial to have a compare and contrast of English and Spanish so that children are able to make the connection of the English word to the Spanish equivalent. This way, rather than simply matching pictures to words, they are able to start forming concrete examples and they may remember these words better. The Public Engagement Symposium was something that none of the group members knew what to expect. However, to our surprise, the setting was very formal and professional. With professionally made posters filled with figures and numbers, we felt intimidated but would like to advise next year’s students to keep it authentic! This year, the symposium gave out little booklets designed like passports. There were a select few booths listed in the passport that one must visit and collect a sticker from. Ultimately, a filled passport was the ticket to entering a raffle. One of the booths included in this passport was ours, Spanish in the Community (see attached picture of stickers). For those who stopped by our table to either chat with us and grab a sticker for their passports, we shared our personal experiences of working in the community. For future years, we would advise that the students dress professionally and are eager to share their experiences. We found that the more eager we were and the more diverse experiences we had, the more people wanted to listen. Ultimately, for the future, we hope that Spanish in the Community can reach greater heights and we are able to be a helping hand in various aspects of the community. Integrating Spanish into the community, like we did with Read Across America, is imperative to raising awareness of the importance of the language. The public engagement symposium was a great way to let others know of the work we do and also learned many other ways to be involved around the C-U area. We thank Ann Abbott for the great platforms to apply our skills not only in the classroom, but also outside! The skills and lessons learned in this course will be taken with us and applied to our careers and lives even after.

Results of Community Based Team Projects

by Annette Popernik, Adam Klauss, Bryan Boccelli, and Danielle Binder


La Línea is a helpline dedicated to the Spanish speaking and immigrant community of Champaign-Urbana. Since 2010, La Línea has served the diverse Latino community by helping with advocacy, translation, referrals, etc. As a team, we focused our attention on developing their Facebook page. Our goal was to communicate with and inform the community of various opportunities and resources as well as expand the reach and activity of La Línea’s Facebook posts. From the start, we decided we wanted to have a general layout of what we would post each day, week by week to have similar themes but to also make sure that our posts were varied enough. On Mondays, we posted about various events happening in the local community, from community gatherings and La Línea fundraisers to educational events like DACA Workshops and Health Fairs. On Wednesdays, as a form of empowerment, we informed them about Latinos making national news. Lastly, on Fridays, we posted information about agencies and organizations that can help with a variety of problems including healthcare, immigration rights, domestic violence, etc. With our strategy we were able to promote La Línea and the services we provide but also involvement in the community, empowerment, and education. We often followed our schedule but sometimes added a post in between or diverted from the theme for that day. We realized the need for flexibility if there was something happening in the community or an issue or event we wanted the clients to know about such as Governor Rauner’s budget cuts.

So what?

Posting on the Facebook page over the course of this semester allowed our group to really collaborate and work together as a team. When a client calls the helpline to ask a question, they only get a sneak peak into what La Línea does. With the schedule we set up for the semester, we were able to inform clients about events and resources they wouldn’t think of asking about or wouldn’t have typically known about. We made sure the clients’ needs were being met through the Facebook page. Our goal was to post relevant material that would benefit the community and inform them of resources they could use that they might not have known about. The various community-hosted events that we promoted over the course of the semester such as the DAPA and DACA information sessions were crucial because La Línea serves many immigrants. Our group was able to work very closely editing and revising every single post on the Facebook page to make sure everything that was posted was pertinent, useful information that the Champaign-Urbana immigrant and refugee community could use. It was really important for us to have posts in English and Spanish since La Línea serves English and Spanish speakers. We made sure the grammar and usage of Spanish was as accurate as possible because we wanted to show clients the effort and careful deliberation put into each post, which helped create rapport for and confidence in La Línea as a whole.

Now what?

La Línea has brought so many wonderful opportunities to Latinos living in the Champaign-Urbana community. Our hard work has contributed to a large social media following of individuals who use our services to seek out ways to immerge themselves and become a part of the growing community. From our advertising of various activities, group outings, restaurant deals, special events, etc., we have promoted a strong and stable place for Latinos to come together and share common interests. We learned the importance of teamwork and collaboration by working together to create a schedule for online posts and making sure we paid close attention to the needs of our followers. People choose to actively follow La Línea’s Facebook page because it is consistently updated with new opportunities. In addition to the online support, the page also provides the helpline’s phone number if further detail is requested about a particular subject or event. In the future, the social media team can connect current clients with the Facebook page by telling them about the page and what it is for. Awareness is crucial. Other future strategies can include creating themes based on the needs and interests of Latinos and immigrants specifically in the Champaign-Urbana community, but the team should investigate and find evidence as to what those needs and interests are versus basing it on personal opinion. There is room for improvement and as La Línea grows, other forms of social media can be used to market the agency as well. So many Latinos utilize our services and we are happy to lend a hand. Because of our growing popularity, we hope that more and more people will find the support we provide helpful and continue to visit our page!

Results of Community Based Team Projects

by Allison Diaz, Elizabeth Chan, Rodrigo Avila


For our semester project, our team, including Rodrigo Avila, Elizabeth Chan, and Allison Diaz, was tasked with planning and implementing the social media strategy for the ECIRMAC Refugee Center. After conducting an interview with the women of ECIRMAC, we understood their goals, audience, and tips for success for the Facebook page. One of our biggest priorities was to share what ECIRMAC is all about. It is sometimes difficult to explain the importance of the daily work that ECIRMAC does for the community because to quote Deb, “We do it all.” Each day is different; the women of the refugee center help immigrants and refugees deal with difficult tasks from just about anything from signing up for Obamacare to completing confusing paperwork. The Facebook audience is not composed of clients to the refugee center, but the volunteers, prospective volunteers, and other people in the community. We noted that Facebook insights informed us that76% of fans are women, and 90% speak English, and the majority of fans are from Chicago and the Urbana-Champaign area. With our posts, we aimed to inform people about the kind of work that ECIRMAC does to help their clients. Additionally, we wanted to spread information about current issues facing immigrants and refugees, promotions about upcoming events, and information about other organizations in the community connected to immigration rights like La Línea and CU Immigration Forum. In our posts, we posted in both English and Spanish as much as possible. Once our team was able to access and post through the Facebook page, we made sure to create meaningful content on a consistent basis. By looking at Facebook insights, we saw that average post reach increased from an average of 20 people reached prior to our project to an average of 150 people reached. This was most likely because of consistent, meaningful, and engaging posts. Although ECIRMAC does not have any additional money to put towards promotion and advertising on Facebook, we relied on other resources to spread the word such as sharing posts on our personal Facebook pages. Throughout the course of the semester, the ECIRMAC grew 20 likes and is now at 401 likes. We plan on keeping up with ECIRMAC through engaging with posts of future Span 332 students who will manage their Facebook page.

So what?

As a community, the services provided by various organizations such as ECIRMAC and La Línea are not very well known by the community. There seems to be a barrier between the students that attend at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the rest of the community since organizations such as these are unknown by the students. The issues addressed are not well known by immigrants and as part of our project to help the refugee center we decided to inform our community about the various opportunities that are provided by organizations such as ECIRMAC. Through the course of the project our group benefited as well as the rest of the community in Urbana-Champaign. Our goal was not only to improve the activity within ECIRMAC’s Facebook page but also to inform the community about all the opportunities that several groups have to offer such as workshops involving free health services or assistance with immigrant services. Not only did it help us inform our community but it also gave us ideas towards what we could do as a community to help others. Posting about the association with other organizations such as La Linea and the C-U Immigration Forum also informed our community about the many opportunities that are provided to refugees. In the end, having the ability to improve the social marketing of ECIRMAC proves to be a benefit not only to the Refugee Center itself, but it also helps the community to get involved with the different types of services that are provided to them as well as the issues that are addressed.

Now what?

Now that the semester has ended, we learned how to implement a social media strategy. We implemented a social media strategy for ECIRMAC. Once we got permission to post on the ECIRMAC’s Facebook, we decided to post on their page every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We posted things related to their programs but also outside sources related to them. Although we thought implementing a social media strategy would be easy since we are on social media majority of the time we are in school, we learned that it wasn’t. We had to obtain permission to post on their Facebook page which was tricky because we couldn’t find the contact of the person in charge of their social media. After countless attempts of contacting the person, Professor Abbott helped us and we got permission to post on their page. Figuring out things to post on their Facebook page was a bit tricky as well. There were many programs that we could post about but we had to find the one that suited ECIRMAC the best. We decided to each post something on a day we were assigned so that there aren’t any repeat of posts. Only Allison had permission to post so we all picked our days to post something and emailed it to her so she could post it on the Facebook. It was better that Allison posted on behalf of us because it prevented repeated posts on the Facebook page. Having repeated posts would make ECIRMAC look unprofessional so having one person post our posts allows us to look professional. It also allows us to double check the posts before posting to prevent repeated posts. Looking back, finding things to post was hard. We had to make sure what we were posting was aimed for the audience we were aiming at. We realized we had to come together and collaborated on things to post and how we should post things to the Facebook page. Although it took some time to figure things out, we learned that teamwork gets things done. Additionally, the purpose of this Facebook group was to get people to know what ECIRMAC was all about. We hope that our three times a week posts got the message out and that the next group to take this on would do the same thing. Getting word out on ECIRMAC will definitely help them out with business and could help out the Hispanics/Latinos in the CU community know that there are resources out there for them to utilize. We hope that ECIRMAC can continue to post resources or events three times a week to notify residents about these events or programs which can benefit their lives.

Results of Community Based Team Projects

by Patrick Revesz, Alli Gattari, Kathleen Kolumban, Emily Melavic


Our group mission was to fund raise $500 for a community partner of Spanish 332. Patrick, Emily, Kat, and myself met up various times to devise a fundraising plan and discuss what community partner we wished to support. The choice was difficult because all of us volunteer for separate organizations such as ECIRMAC, Crisis Nursery, the International Academy, and Prairie Elementary School’s dual language program. All of the partners could benefit from the donation. Who has the most immediate needs? Before we decided on our community partner I attended a CU Immigration Forum retreat where I met the Urbana School District Latino parent liaison Lucia Maldonado. She gave a presentation on the situation of unaccompanied migrant children in the Urbana schools. Several unaccompanied minors traveled here from Central America on their own due to uncontrollable levels of violence and poverty. She explained that many of the students were in need of a lawyer and the funds to pay for legal representation and transportation to Chicago for immigration proceedings. According to Politico, 9 out 10 child migrants subjected to a removal order or voluntary departure did not have a lawyer. The 7 out of 10 children who did have a lawyer won the decisions allowing them to stay in the United States. 80% of child migrants in Illinois do not have a lawyer. Many of these children qualify to stay in the United States under asylum and temporary juvenile visas. I brought this news to my group and we all decided we needed to something on a local level and raise awareness and money - fast. All of the funds raised would subsidize the students’ legal representation and transportation to Chicago for immigration proceedings. We also decided to focus on educating our campus and C-U community about who are unaccompanied minors and the challenges they face and overcome. All of the students attend school where they receive most of their meals and support. Many of them work after school till late hours in the night. Therefore, we wanted to express our support and solidarity as they attempt to receive asylum relief or other legal forms of status in the United States.

So what?

So we fundraised. A lot. Instead of raising $500, we raised all of $4,434. Essentially we divided our fundraising process into two stages: spreading awareness and raising money. Stage one was spreading awareness. For this we held two puppy-chow sales in the foreign language building. At each sale we handed out sheets, alongside the puppy-chow, which informed our customers on the current issue regarding unaccompanied minors in the area. In addition to being aware of the issue, we wanted people to also be aware of what was going to be the foundation of our stage two: movie screenings. So in order for there to be a large turnout, we printed fliers that advertised the screenings and handed them out as well. All in all, the puppy-chow events allowed us to shed some light on the issue and advertise our major events – while still raising money towards the cause. A few weeks later, in collaboration with CU Immigration Forum, we held our two movie screenings. Each one showed the documentary Which Way Home. We thought it was important that all members of the community had the opportunity to attend. Therefore we held one on-campus at the University YMCA, and the other off-campus at Urbana High School. After reaching out to local companies, we were fortunate enough to have a number of community donors. We served food items from Rick’s Bakery, El Charro, Café Kopi, Common Ground, Maize, and generous families in the Urbana school district. We were even a part of a solidarity walk with CU Immigration Forum and la Casa that took place before the Urbana screening. Several students and community members walked from campus to Urbana High School in order to raise more awareness for the unaccompanied minors. On the whole, our efforts were well rewarded, and we achieved more than we ever thought.

Now what?

Now it’s time to use the money and awareness that we raised to assist the local unaccompanied minor population. In terms of the difference that our money can make, here is a breakdown of what could come from the money we raised: With the $4,434 that we raised, we could help CU Immigration Forum provide 443 healthy lunches or 177 legal consultations or 88 Greyhound bus tickets for the children to attend legal proceedings in Chicago. In total we can help provide all three of these necessary services for 52 minors who desperately need the resources that give them a chance to stay in this country. So far we know of around 30 local students who need these services, meaning we are able to continue to provide to those children who will arrive unaccompanied in the future or provide even more assistance to those who are already here. Our contribution to this cause goes beyond monetary support as we were also able to raise a lot of awareness for this issue by promoting our events and talking with community members on social media and in person. This increased community knowledge will mean that others may want to continue their support for this population and spread knowledge to others in the community who can donate their time and money to supporting these kids. Hopefully this can lead to a sustainable system for aiding unaccompanied minors who come and stay in the community both in the immediate future and long term. With our extra money and awareness, the community may also be able to begin preparing for the future needs of these children and those that are still arriving instead of having to react to problems as they arise.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Student Spotlight: Nick Romito

by Ann Abbott

Nick Romito was a great student, but he's also a great guy. I love that about him. 

Nick is applying to medical school after a few years out of college, and I thought that many of my students who want to go to medical school, too, might benefit from reading some of the things that Nick did as a Spanish student at Illinois. (If you want to know what Nick has done since college, I have video interviews with him on my YouTube channel.)

Here's what Nick wrote:

I wanted to give you a list of all of the classes that I took for my Spanish Minor. I passed with a grade of A+ in 50% of the Spanish courses I have taken there. The class that I took specifically with you was Spanish 202—Spanish for Business where I had a very high attendance rate (maybe missed one class for when I was sick with the flu). I also took SPAN 232—Spanish in the Community where Megan Kelly was my TA during the same semester, but you were listed as the professor for the class. I graduated from UIUC with Latin Honors status of Summa Cum Laude.
SU 07 SPAN 141—Intro to Spanish Grammar (Proficiency Test Passed)
FA 07 SPAN 200—Reading in Hispanic Texts
SP 08 SPAN 204—Practical Review of Spanish
FA 08 SPAN 208—Oral Spanish
SP 10 SPAN 228—Spanish Composition
FA 10 SPAN 202—Spanish For Business
FA 10 SPAN 232—Spanish In The Community

Community Service Learning (CSL) Information
I did my CSL work at Central High School In Champaign for SPAN 232 where I worked in an ESL classroom tutoring students in the sciences.

Other Information
Since I worked in an ESL classroom for high school students, I learned a lot of new vocabulary from the students in science and math—ESPECIALLY with numbers. This was my first time really interacting with hispanohablantes in the community for such an extended period of time, so what I got out of this was the confidence to speak to others in Spanish. In the beginning those kids felt just as uncomfortable speaking in English as I did in Spanish, and that the most important thing is that we made an effort to communicate with each other. It’s not just about the language itself, but HOW you say things, your gestures while communicating, and how you can re-phrase and formulate new ways to say things in a second language. This kind of thing you can’t learn from a book.  At the end of the day the kids learned something from my tutoring and gained confidence and this was the most important to me.  I want to preferably go into pediatrics (maybe orthopedic pediatrics or reconstructive plastic surgery for children that have had accidents) so learning to work with children in a second language was a challenge and I’m glad to have had the experience. I also may be interested in doing a Doctor’s Without Boarders program after medical school in which my Spanish will come in handy!  You also know this from the video blogs that you posted, but I had a job after college as a Quality Assurance specialist for a food production company where I had to go out on the floor and make quality checks. Most of the employees only new how to speak Spanish so I would not have been as successful at that job if it weren’t for the classes I had taken. I saved a lot of bad food product from reaching the public.

I did not have an honors project, however we did have a final project that you issued for the Spanish for Business class that was a group effort. We had to put together a video presentation, however I think what was most memorable was the memos that we had to write because it helped me write in a professional tone of voice in Spanish which I had never done before. However, I was VERY conversational in our team group discussions in SPAN202 that we would have about the required reading and about the questions that we had to have prepared before class. There were no essays, however it would be nice to mention that I did really well on writing these memos and how active I was in participating. I spent a lot of time writing these and preparing for those discussions because I care a lot about my work and how much I’m learning….also how much I can pass this onto others and affect someone else positively with that knowledge.  Some of these group discussions in SPAN 202 focused on controversial issues which opened my mind up to new viewpoints and also awareness of what is happening in other countries. Also, when I took SPAN 228 I also wrote an essay on stem cell research in Spanish which was pretty challenging, but interesting!

Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to study abroad with my 2 other majors in Chemisty and Molecular Cellular Biology. However I wish I did though!

May I use your information on my blog?
Absolutely you can add this to your blog post! You already have a couple of videos of me where I talked about my experiences after college. I would love to be a positive model for your incoming and existing students.  Let me know if you need anything else!  

Student Reflection

by Nicole Tauster

This semester for SPAN 332, in addition to volunteering, we formed groups and signed up for projects that allowed us to help community members/organizations with our Spanish skills. Some groups took over the social media campaigns for local organizations, others wrote grants or created fundraising events. My group did something a little different… We worked with Dr. Pilar Egüez Guevarra, editing and transcribing videos for her. Dr. Guevarra has a webpage and project entitled “Comidas que Curan” and her goal is to inform the inhabitants of Esmeraldas, Ecuador about nutrition and how to use traditional foods in healthful ways. One of the growing problems in Esmeraldas is that products that the locals have used and consumed for years, like the coconut, are becoming more expensive due to gentrification and higher global demand. Because of this many people, especially the younger generations, were using less healthy substitutes for coconut oil, milk, etc. But Dr. Guevarra wanted to teach them about the health benefits of the ingredients that naturally grow in Ecuador and the traditional ways to prepare healthy dishes. So she traveled to Esmeraldas and interviewed abuelas about traditional dishes that they have been preparing for their families for years. Dr. Guevarra filmed these women preparing the dishes and then interviewed them afterwards about the preparation and personal connections they had to each food. These are the types of videos we helped her edit together to make something she could post on her website.

The videos and entire project were certainly interesting—my group members and I loved the whole concept from the moment we met with Dr. Guevarra and she told us about it. But that night, after our whole group met at Café Paradiso, I stayed behind and continued talking with Dr. Guevarra and something she said really stuck with me. She is an incredibly intelligent woman and avid researcher, but the shared with me her frustration with trying to get her work published. She told me that she had submitted her work to several academic journals over a year earlier and either she hadn’t heard anything more or it was still in the peer review process. Dr. Guevarra explained to me that this was particularly problematic due to the nature of her work, human nutrition, because it is a field that is constantly changing because new information is always being discovered. She worried that by the time her work was published in an accredited journal, it might be too late. Things could have changed by then and her previous research would be moot. This, she told me, was one of the main reasons she switched to making YouTube videos and writing blog posts. Putting up her work herself on the internet made it instantly accessible for other people, and a wide array of people, many of whom would never even have access to an academic journal. I kept thinking about our conversation long after it took place, ruminating on the importance of modern technology and accessibility of information. You may think not many people will see or care about that YouTube video you create with your friends or that tweet or Instagram you share, but the truth is you really can’t imagine how many people might see it. We have such power in social media and the internet in general, we could spread our message far and wide if we use the right tools and aim it at the right audience. Throughout the semester we talked more about this, with Ann stressing the importance of an internet/social media presence in relation to social entrepreneurship. But the posts—and any tags—need to be relevant, need to reach the target audience, and above all need to make a difference and offer a product or service the community needs. In this case, Dr. Guevarra’s target audience was young people in Esmeraldas, Ecuador and her service was going to be information on eating and cooking healthfully. So she knew quick, colorful YouTube videos with music would be the way to grab the attention of a younger, tech-savvy generation. And she knew keeping them short and didactic was the way to keep their attention for the duration. Plus, by creating videos, she made a product that could be instantly shared with the community she was working to serve. I will definitely be keeping the idea of ease of access to vital information in mind as I venture into the working world. And how sometimes it might be better to take matters into your own hands, like Dr. Guevarra did, instead of waiting around for someone else to give you the go-ahead. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Virtual Volunteering and Spanish Community Service Learning: An Example

by Ann Abbott

Each semester there is at least one student who struggles to complete the required 28 hours of community service learning with a local community partner. While the best thing to do, of course, is to complete the commitment made to the community partner, if it's not possible for some reason, I like to offer some alternatives.

One of my students took advantage of one of those options this semester, and she shared with me the letters that she wrote to unaccompanied minors and that she sent to They Are Children. She gave me permission to share them here.

Positive Student Feedback about Spanish Community Service Learning

by Ann Abbott

Just wanted to share some messages from students.

CSL as motivation for study abroad

Once again, I wanted to say thank you for a great semester! I feel like I learned so much about myself and the community--in a very enjoyable way. I think that Span 232['Spanish in the Community"] is one of the most applicable classes I have taken, and I know I am definitely going to be grateful for this course in the future. 

After speaking with many of my fellow classmates in Span 232, I knew that I definitely wanted to study abroad. I was inspired when my classmates explaining amazing and eye opening studying in a Spanish-speaking country was.

CSL and content that moves students

Y para cambiar temas, le agradezco muchísimo por un semestre magnífico, realmente ha sido la mejor clase de español que yo he tomado en ambas universidades que asistí.  Que especial y conmovedor ha sido, nunca la voy a olvidar.  Le deseo sólo las mejores cosas en su vida y ojalá nos veamos en el futuro cercano!

CSL and the health professions

Ever since I started at Presence with Alejandra, I wanted to tell you how grateful I was. Throughout this semester, I had the unique opportunity of shadowing her during her patient visits, helped translate documents, and get a glimpse of what my Spanish major is really about. I am so fortunate to have been able to take this course with you. You gave us such a great platform to continue our Spanish skills and passion for helping the community. When others asked what class I was taking, I would tell them how unique this course was. It was truly one of the best courses I have taken here and as I get ready to graduate this coming weekend, I am proud to be graduating with my Spanish major as I am reassured that I can continue this work where ever I go. Thank you again for letting us explore the many avenues of community service through Spanish.

CSL in a Business Spanish Course

I just wanted to thank you again for a lovely semester. I really enjoyed class and learned so much about different cultures, marketing, and working as a team- all while perfecting my Spanish abilities.  So thank you for being such a progressive teacher keeping us talking and learning in such innovative ways! 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cultural Appropriation and Spanish Community Service Learning

by Ann Abbott

Add this to the list of things I never thought I would be talking about while teaching Spansih community service learning: clothing.

Yet this semester I have been confronted with issues of concern about clothing twice.

Chief Illiniwek

One day, in the third of the semester, one of my students walked in wearing a Chief shirt. 

Oh, this was hard. I was frozen for a moment. I had two forces battling within me:
  1. Speak the truth. Always speak the truth. Confront racism. Be true to your moral compass. Call it out.
  2. Don't make a student lose face. Make your classroom a safe environment. (Safe for whom, though? Ugh.) We all make mistakes. Take care of things privately.
I didn't do anything. 
I didn't say anything.
I didn't follow up in any way.

What would you have done? This student is a lovely person. A Latino/a (I don't want to give away the gender). This student was the last person I would have expected to wear something offensive.

After I hand out grades, I might send this person a private email. Would you do that?

Drug Rugs

Do you know what a drug rug is? I had no idea. Do you know what a Baja Hoodie is? I had no idea about that, either.

Until a student of mine talked to me after class about this. She had heard someone (not in our class) refer to this clothing item as a drug rug. She told me how bad it mad her feel. How mad. She associated this clothing item with her Mexican grandmother. With the artisan handwork of the community. Of the artistic, traditional values of people she loved and admired. 

To hear it called a "drug rug" hurt.

What should I do about this? Should I add this to my teaching for next semester? Should I talk to the stores in town who carry this item and call it this in their marketing/advertising?

How can we inform our students about this (and other forms of cultural appropriation) without preaching? Without shaming?

My solution is usually to create activities. To take students, paso por paso, through a series of activities that make them interact with information, share with classmates, come to conclusions, etc. Let's see if I can do something with this...