Intercambio: A Language Exchange Service Learning Opportunity for Intermediate Spanish Courses Clara Burgo DePaul University Chicago Language Symposium 2014 Introduction • Spanish Intermediate Sequence 124-125-126 with service learning • Vincentian Philosophy of DePaul University doing service and learning from the community, values of human dignity and social justice • Environment of mutual interest, cooperation, and dedication Intercambio • A reciprocal arrangement between campus and community • Enhances the student’s knowledge about the Spanish-speaking world through community service • Tutoring and mentoring forming relationships that expose commonalities at the core of humanity • An exemplary model for service learning at DePaul The community sites 3 Latino community sites: • Erie House • RICS • Centro Romero • 25 hours a quarter (3 hours a week) for 8 weeks The community sites • A mutually beneficial relationship • Through advocacy and education, these sites serve new immigrants from Mexico and Central America who are integrating into their new cultural environments • Awareness of the social realities of Latino communities in Chicago and responsibility of ensuring justice and equality How Intercambio Works • A mentor of Intercambio visits the classroom for placement and questions • A key role in learning and practicing Spanish, informing class discussions, enriching their writing, and adding to their Spanish cultural competence • Improving Spanish conversation skills while exchanging perspectives on social justice issues and culture JYEL Service is a requirement for this course Junior Year Experience Learning (JYEL) credit: Apply their knowledge of Spanish to the analysis of lived experiences Use the experiences to understand a new understanding of issues Use their understanding of Spanish to solve problems https://www.facebook.com/dpu.intercambio Service in the classroom 3 reflections by student mentors and the Director of Intercambio D2L Discussion Board Weekly Questions: Orientation Week Intercambio Reflections Orientation Week • First impressions: • How did you like it there? If you were in Intercambio before, did you notice any differences? Are there more community members? • Describe your first impressions about your comunity site and your expectations Intercambio • How many community members visited the site this week? What are the activities that you did in interaction with them that you enjoyed the most and that are more beneficial for your service learning experience? • After 1 or 2 sessions with Intercambio, do you have a more specific idea of what Intercambio is about and its dynamics? Could you describe it? Is it what you thought it was going to be? Explain. • Any challenges or things you have been struggling with? Fluency? Any improvements? Feel free to discuss any aspects that have been hard for you and suggestions about how to overcome any difficulties. Reflections • How did you like them? Do you think these sessions help to improve Intercambio? • Do you think it is an effective way of connecting Intercambio with the classroom? • In what ways has intercambio changed your life? What have your learned? have you changed your mind about the community members once you got to meet them? Arlach et al. (2009) • Community members changing views of university students, of themselves and of social issues • Service-learning class format where community recipients can have expert roles • Knowledge is co-created and multi-directional, and time is devoted to dialogue about current social issues Aspirations • To increase civic engagement in students and narrow the distance between universities and communities • Service-learning is better positioned, in terms of legitimacy, funding, research, and following, to fulfill its mission than in the past • A need for knowledge to be local and cocreated WITH the community. • To improve communities • The format of Intercambio and the research method to empower the community members to be on equal ground with their university counterparts • Community members had a valuable asset to teach • For the first half, pairs practiced English and Spanish. During the second half, the group reflected together on a social problem • Intercambio was designed so that community members were on equal footing with university students rather than being served by them • Honest dialogue leading to a more complex understanding of reality and a desire to change unfair aspects of that reality • The highest stage of learning is conscientización, the awareness of social problems to the point of intervening to change them Centro Romero • Centro Romero is a community agency for the immigrant Latino population in Chicago: citizenship preparation, youth after-school programs, leadership programs, ESL, GED, and literacy classes • Foreign language textbook exercises that students did in both languages to encourage partners to get to know one another's background, as well as practice vocabulary Dynamics of the sessions • A game or presentation and a reflection, exploring cultural, power, and class differences between the community and university students dialogue between the oppressors and the oppressed • Stories and articles related to social issues, and reflection in a group format. The reflection topics included immigration reform, neighborhood violence, job prospects after graduation, and the war in Iraq Observations • Discussions tended to be democratic • Most community students’ family of origin was low-income with an education of high school or less vs. the university students tended to be more homogenous in age (18-22) and socioeconomic status (primarily middle class) and they were legal U.S. citizens Community Members • Feeling more trust (confianza) and comfort reduction in stereotypes • Stopped seeing the university students in terms of class or race, and began to see them as human beings with stories, aspirations, and struggles similar to their own • Humanizing the Other feeling equal What Community Members Gained from Reflections • Learning to speak up • Reflection as support group • Reflective actions: watching the news • Infrequent actions: serving as a translator • Committed action: teaching a literacy class • Hopelessness: Immigration issues Benefits • A template for a reciprocal, asset-based, community-university partnership • Knowledge flowed bi-directionally • Community members learned they had to rely on themselves for the betterment of their own lives • Changing views of university students, of themselves and of social issues 3 elements for success (1) a reciprocal, long-term engagement between people of different backgrounds and levels of privilege (2) ample time to reflect on current social issues (3) an acceptance that reflections might be uncomfortable, awkward, or downright painful. Conclusions • Service Learning following the mission of DePaul University • Intercambio as mutual exchange between DePaul students and Latino community members • Centro Romero, RICS and Erie House as the service sites where language exchange and social justice reflections take place References • Arlach, Sanchez and Feuer (2009) Voices from the Community: A Case for Reciprocity in Service-Learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, pp. 5-16. • http://steans.depaul.edu/docs/publications/ne wsletters/spring2011.pdf Image from: http://steans.depaul.edu/faculty/serviceLearning.asp Steans Center THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION!