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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Student Reflection

by Christine Kurt

¡Encantada de conocerles! (Pleased to meet you!)


Hi everyone! I thought to begin my series of blog posts I’d give you a little background on my specific community project and myself. My name is Christine and I’m a junior double-majoring in Spanish and Psychology. Although I’m not exactly sure what I’d like to do, I’m considering the legal field or HR/ employment relations. No matter what I end up choosing, I’m so glad to have a second language to enrich my career path. I’ve been taking Spanish classes in school since I was five years old and have always been fascinated by the language- especially due to the amazing Spanish teachers and professors I’ve had over the past 16 years. Much of my learning has been in the classroom, so it has been wonderful getting to hone in on my speaking skills through volunteering experiences.

I decided to take SPAN 232 to strengthen my oral communication skills and get hands-on experience with Spanish-speaking populations to practice for my future career. Initially I was extremely nervous at the thought of communicating with native speakers in my community interactions, but it has proven to be one of my favorite aspects of the course. I was shocked at the number of volunteering options the course offered; any interest you have could be met- tutoring, health-care, and social service opportunities appeal to any skill set or potential interest. It’s also very manageable to find transportation to volunteering, or to select an organization on campus to meet your transportation needs (very important seeing as I don’t have a car on campus). Along the way, it’s been rather beneficial to hear my classmates’ experiences and see the multitude of ways Spanish-speaking skills are used to give back to the community (in addition to how the community enriches the lives of student volunteers).  Overall, I would highly recommend taking the class because it strengthens your cultural awareness and improves grammar and speaking skills though real-life application.

Specifically, I volunteer in the Child Care Resource Center located on campus. Although it sounds like I spend my time volunteering with children, I have been helping out with the Abriendo Caminos- a program that promotes healthy lifestyle choices among the Latino community.  Specifically, it educates and empowers Spanish-speaking women through a free training program- even certifying them as health experts in their community. These women not only learn about health, fitness and healthy relationships to benefit their own families, but also to act as a liaison to their community regarding any health questions. It’s great to know that some of my efforts volunteering add to an even larger network of women volunteers! It’s funded through a USDA grant and is one of a few Abriendo Caminos programs across the country. Much of the time, I help generate and edit educational materials such as PowerPoints, booklets, promotional flyers, and newsletters to reach the women and to encourage them to become “educadoras” (educators) among their community. I have loved volunteering so much that I plan on returning next semester even after I’ve completed the course! My supervisor, Milagros, speaks Spanish with me and is always makes me look forward to volunteering. She always has such a great attitude and her passion for helping the community is inspiring. I’ve learned a great deal about the health challenges among the Latino community and have fostered some great relationships along the way! I’m so glad this course has opened my eyes to the various ways in which I can put my Spanish skills to use and help the Spanish-speakers in Champaign and Urbana, all while they help me become a better Spanish speaker and community member.

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