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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Student Reflection

picture of computer screen where student did her work alongside a gift of specialty popocorn and a note thanking her for her work with the community partner.
by Christine Kurt

Semester Summary 

My semester in SPAN 232 and volunteering at the Child Care Resource Center proved highly beneficial to both my academic and personal development. Before classes began, 28 hours sounded like a daunting task that I would struggle to complete. However, nothing could be further from the truth, the hours came easily and were enjoyed thoroughly. I can genuinely say I looked forward to volunteering all semester, due to the great people around me and the application of in-class topics.

At the beginning of the semester we picked from a list of community partners and communicated by e-mail to set up meetings regarding the upcoming opportunities for the semester. When I first e-mailed Milagros, my supervisor, I gathered that she would be nice, but I never imagined how kind she would be.  When I first went in to speak to her about what tasks I would complete throughout the semester, she complimented my Spanish (despite the many times I drew a blank on a word or phrase). Throughout the semester she would be extremely grateful of any task I would complete, no matter how big or small. At my last day of the semester, she got me a gift and thanked me profusely for my work this semester. It was a bittersweet feeling leaving that day because I was sad that the semester was over, but very grateful to have met someone with such a passion for helping others.

Experiences throughout the semester allowed me to develop useful professional and personal skills. Being surrounded by and collaborating with intelligent and accomplished women all semester on the Abriendo Caminos project pushed me to put my best work forward. I brushed up on different computer programs, translated PowerPoints, and helped write an educational booklet and newsletter. I gained many office skills throughout the semester and honed in on many more in class as well. On a personal level, the class portion and my experiences in the community allowed me to be a more culturally competent individual. I am now more aware of the struggles of the Spanish-speaking community, especially in terms of health due to my particular volunteering experience. In class I obtained a much better grasp on how complex the visa and green card practices are, as well as the difference between refugees and other terms regarding immigration. For someone interested in the legal field, this class has been the most informative Spanish class regarding the intricate legal process of immigration. In addition to my own experiences, the format of SPAN 232 allows for learning from the experiences of others. A distinct aspect of the class was the amount of time spent learning of the successes and shortcomings of classmates’ community experiences, something I found particularly enriching to my cultural understanding. SPAN 232 has been the class that most allowed develop workplace and life skills, while seeing the convergence of these two aspects.

In summary, SPAN 232 has been a far greater asset to my education than I ever could have anticipated. Something students ask themselves frequently is, “when will I ever use what I’ve learned in the classroom?” With this course, I struggle to think of a time in which I could not use material learned in class- nearly everything was either applied in the community, or could be utilized in the future. I would highly recommend this course to anyone who is not only looking to improve his/her speaking skills, but also better one’s understanding of Spanish-speaking populations. The experiences I have had this semester bettered me as both a student and member of the community. I’ve experienced firsthand the benefits the volunteer gains from the community and learned that volunteering goes far beyond a one-sided relationship. I can guarantee that this class will make you grow into a better person and student, while giving you skills for a lifetime. 

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