Spring is in the air and the time has come to move out of the classroom, get involved in our community and put our Spanish to the test. Since January the class has read about the history of the Hispanic presence in Oregon. Students have listened to oral histories documenting the Hispanic experience here in the Portland Metro Area and beyond. We researched and read about organizations and programs designed to improve the lives of our Hispanic neighbors. We hosted community leader and director of CAUSA (Oregon’s Immigrant Rights Coalition), Francisco López and discussed with him the topic of immigration reform and how it relates to Oregon. Next week students will interview local artist Eduardo Fernández who was recently chosen to paint Governor Kulongoski´s official portrait. Currently our class meets once or twice per week to allow students more flexibility in their schedules so that they can complete their required service learning hours. These ¨pasantías¨ are like mini-internships. Similar to our senior project program, students research an organization of interest, are matched with a mentor and are required to document and share about their experience through blogs. As you will see, these blog entries are requied to be written in Spanish while students have the option to translate them into English. This year the mentoring organizations include: Teatro Milagro, Schoolita Alegría, Bienestar, Midland Public Library and Art on Alberta. The class will also help staff three important spring events in our local Hispanic community. These events are: El Día del Niño hosted by Centro Cultural of Washington County and Cornelius Public Library on 4/24, El Día del Niño hosted by Midland Public Library on 4/25, and the 26th Annual Cinco de Mayo Fiesta.
As their teacher, I am very proud of the genuine interest they continue to show in the subject matter and of their desire to learn from and support the mentoring organizations. These students are committed to learn more about our local Hispanic community and they are hopeful that their contributions may help make a difference. They are finding meaningful ways to take their years of Spanish classroom instruction beyond the confines of classroom walls and engage with native speakers living in our community...I can´t think of a better way for them to conclude their formal language study with us?!