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SPAN 2003 Service-Learning Project

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By: Kathleen Guerra, Spanish Language, Literary & Cultural Studies

Article  •
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During the 2022-2023 academic year, I received a Community-Engaged Teaching grant from CCESL to support service-learning projects in all sections of our SPAN 2003 course. As always, the CCESL grant enabled me, as a representative of DU, to directly impact and support the important community-engaged work our students do. And, more importantly, the grant allowed us to help support and build the work of our community partners.

In more specific terms, our SPAN 2003 courses during Winter and Spring terms (6 sections in total) partnered with two different organizations: Programa Familiar de Lenguaje (Winter and Spring terms) and We Don’t Waste (Spring term only). Programa Familiar de Lenguaje is a community-based program that offers free sessions in Spanish at different community hubs for young children and caregivers to promote early literacy and lifelong multilingual practices. SPAN 2003 students participated in these weekly sessions, connecting with children and caregivers alike. In addition, they created original content for the program to distribute on their social media platforms, distributed flyers to promote the program in new areas, as well as contributed to a bank of videos with different songs, books and simple recipes that caregivers can access at any time to engage with their children in Spanish. The CCESL grant allowed us to purchase much-needed classroom supplies that are used by all participants, as well as provide a celebratory end-of-the-year outing and lunch at the Denver Children’s Museum. All students were invited to attend. Inclusive events like these go a long way to build communities and connect all learners to the language in an engaging way. In fact, some students were so inspired by their experience that they continued to volunteer with the program. Without the help of the CCESL grant, we would not have been able to contribute to the growth of the program and these important community-building events.

Our ongoing collaborations with these organizations are fundamental to connecting our students with communities just outside the walls of DU. With both Programa Familiar de Lenguaje and We Don’t Waste, our students were able to positively contribute to the growth and success of these programs and use their developing linguistic abilities to interact with members of the community. This helps center the idea that Spanish is a local language, not just an academic subject. It is my hope that with the help of CCESL, we can continue to support these collaborations and help our communities thrive!

Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

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