Sunday, September 16, 2012

Local Latino Immersion Experiences

The first culture projects for this fall semester are due on Friday.

Students in intermediate Spanish have been going into the community to discover businesses, churches, cultural centers, clubs, stores, restaurants, events, and homes where they can be immersed in Spanish language.

During the first visit to their cultural immersion destination, students are encouraged to ask questions that the experience raises for them, make vivid and honest observations, to note any particular things they realized they wished they knew how to say while they were there, and any cultural notes that they made while preparing to attend an event.

After attending or visiting an event or a location in the local community, students spend time in reflection.  They note anything that surprise them about their observations.  Perhaps there were words, attitudes, actions or concepts that made them wonder or feel uncomfortable or that made them feel especially at home and welcome, etc.  The idea of reflecting on the experience is to examine the language and culture up close, to get out of one's culture zone, and to prepare for deeper observation at the next opportunity.

In an online discussion forum, students share their reports (en español) about what they observed, how they felt, and how they plan to prepare for a return visit next month.

Already, several students have shared their plans to visit a church service in Spanish, their experience volunteering in a local tutoring program for Latino gradeschoolers, a visit to the local Hispanic fruit market, and a Mexican Independence Day celebration.  I'm looking forward to reading the submissions as they come in, and watching the cross-pollination of culture project ideas for the next round next month as students share what they've observed this time around.   

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