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Recognized Global Engagement Initiative Programs

ACTFL would like to thank the following members of the Global Engagement Action Group for their work on this initiative:
Beckie Rankin, Lexington (MA) School District (Chair)
Mary Curran, Rutgers University (NJ)
Laurel Derksen, Anchorage (AK) School District, Emerita
Gautami Shah, University of Texas at Austin
Valerie Shull, Rogers Park Montessori School (IL)





The following programs have been recognized as globally engaged through the ACTFL Global Engagement Initiative review process in 2016:

Integrating Spanish and Health in Nicaragua

Contact: Nohelia Rojas-Miesse
513 529-4506

To supplement her medical Spanish class, Nohelia Rojas-Miesse developed this week-long program in 2010 for pre-med students interested in Spanish language learning and health care in developing countries. Students who participate in this program live with host families, fully immersing themselves in the culture both day and night as they work with Nicaraguan doctors, teach hygiene to young patients, and investigate local health-care services. Over the course of the seven days that students are engaging with clinic patients in Spanish, they conduct interviews to understand medical needs, shadow doctors, provide basic medical assistance, aid in the pharmacy, and participate in excursions to better understand the Nicaraguan culture. Over one hundred students have traveled to Nicaragua in the six years of the program, helping over 500 patients each year. While practicing language and exploring culture in Nicaragua, Miami University pre-med students help set up ambulatory clinics in rural and underprivileged communities, partnering with local doctors to provide health care outside of larger cities. For these students, this program isn’t just about developing confidence in their communication abilities and cultural knowledge as it pertains to real-life medical situations, but also about providing medicine, understanding the local medical and socio economic issues, and comparing their own cultures with the richness of those in Nicaragua. For the staff members involved, a key part of the program beyond seven days of medical aid is that students return to Miami University more interested in practicing Spanish, in improving world health, and in exploring other service opportunities.

Educano Vidas and Fowlerville High School Partnership

Kristy Placido

In Kristy Placido’s Spanish 2 Unit on Guatemala and Spanish 4 Unit on El Salvador, she and her students have learned about the cycles of poverty and lack of opportunity. Through a colleague, Placido was connected to Vilma Garcia and “Educando Vidas” which helps fund the education of students in Antigua, Guatemala. Each year, Fowlerville students invite Garcia as a guest speaker to their school, and brainstorm ideas to support education in Antigua. Fundraising efforts have included a fair-trade craft market, school-wide festivals, a snack shop, and using social media to engage other members of the community to donate towards education. Over the 5 years that students have worked with Garcia, they have raised of $6,000. Furthermore, students from Fowlerville High School have developed relationships with the students they support, writing letters back and forth in Spanish. Placido explains, “By creating enduring friendships with people in the target culture, my students have a much deeper understanding of the causes and impacts of extreme poverty, and a greater sense of empathy.” As students can see tangible results of their linguistic and cultural competencies, they are proud of their efforts to positively impact others’ education.

Reading to Play, Playing to Read

Lucía Osa-Melero
512 789 0378

As a way to increase Spanish course enrollment at Duquesne University and to engage in the growing Latino community of Pittsburgh, two Spanish professors implemented a community engagement project through a partnership with Casa San José in which upper-level Spanish students developed curriculum for a program for young immigrants. Several of Beechwood Elementary’s recent immigrants and Duquesne University Spanish students interacted during three sessions, teaching and learning about the immigrants’ cultures to create a final performance at Duquesne University, where families are exposed to the college campus. In Spring 2015, students wrote and performed scripts about Mexican history, and in Spring 2016, they focused on healthy habits and nutrition. Each spring, college students interacted in Spanish with both young people and their families, developed some mentoring relationships, and deepened their knowledge and appreciation of local and native Hispanic culture. Students self-reported that this community-engaged cooperation was a two-way street of learning, where the enthusiastic college students interacted in a safe space with Hispanic elementary students to discover what is relevant and meaningful about each culture.

Stanford Language Center & International Institute of the Bay Area

Vivian Brates

Part of the Spanish curriculum at Stanford includes a service learning component in which students use the language in a Spanish-speaking environment. One particular community connection is in Redwood City where students work in small groups with native Spanish speakers to study for the citizenship exam. While the goals are for improved communicative and cultural competencies for the college students and a passing score for the Hispanic people, many formal and informal relationships have developed.

Students Teaching Students: Elementary Spanish Program

Darcy Pippins

When faced with budget cuts, upper-level Spanish students from Norman High School became volunteers to create lessons, curriculum, and materials to teach Spanish in 4th and 5th grades. Once a week, 31 high school students teach Spanish to over 700 students in 4 feeder elementary schools for 30 minutes before the high school day begins. Before presenting their lessons, the student-teachers collaborate with the high school Spanish teacher as well as the elementary teacher to plan engaging lessons, meeting with other student-teachers during their own free time to brainstorm, share authentic resources, and discuss activities. During the lesson, student teachers present literature, digital images, and art as a venue for learning about culture, and also encourage the elementary school native speakers to act as experts. Not only does this experience benefit the elementary school students who engage in positive language and culture exposure before beginning their middle school curricula, it also encourages the high school students to be advocates, to be role models for younger students, to continue in the world language teaching profession, and to more deeply understand Spanish language and culture.

Previous Recipients:

2015: Blue Valley CAPS World Business Partnerships, Carlyle High School Classroom Without Walls, Cincinnati Country Day School, Deerfield High School Reciprocal Exchange, Illinois State University World Languages Teachers at Unity, Lincoln Way World Languages Department, Rogers Park Montessori in Costa Rica, Rutgers University Conversation Tree, SUNY Oneonta Service Learning in San Andres, Colombia, University of North Carolina-Greensboro Global Village, and University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Cajun Watershed & Intercultural Immersion Program Download PDF.