In this paper, the author discusses her experience with the service-learning program Ayuda y Aprende while taking Spanish 301 at Purdue University. Ayuda y Aprende is a service-learning program through the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, in which advanced Spanish students work with Lafayette and West Lafayette elementary school children of Spanish-speaking families to help them adjust to the English language and American school culture, as well as improve their Spanish. During the weekly visits, university students work with children individually and in groups to assist them with school tasks such as classwork and homework. There was also time for the university students to get to know more about their students, such as their different cultural traditions and their experience so far learning multiple languages and adjusting to a different culture. Throughout the visits, the Purdue students expanded their own Spanish vocabulary by learning new words from the children, which is significantly useful in advanced Spanish courses where a wide knowledge of vocabulary is expected. This program also allowed Purdue students to obtain a real-world experience of how children feel when living in an area with a culture vastly different from those of their prior communities. The author had the ability to discuss future career goals with the children, while also encouraging and celebrating their ability to learn and speak multiple languages. Overall, this program is a wonderful opportunity to connect Purdue Spanish students with their local bilingual community and allow children of the local community to feel welcomed and supported in their educational environment and proud of their bilingualism and cultures.
"Supporting Public School Students' Education and Adaptation to U.S. Schools while Celebrating Bilingualism,"
Purdue Journal of Service-Learning and International Engagement: Vol. 7
Available at: https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/pjsl/vol7/iss1/10