Associate Professor, Modern Languages
Courses: LST 308 Motherhood in Latino Communities; LST 303 Borderlands ; PAX 212 Social Justice/Social Change; PAX 240 Narratives of War for Peace Building
Describe the course in which you used service-learning.
I used service learning in many of my courses. If I could I would use it in every course I teach. The courses I use it as JYEL are the LST courses that deal with Latino communities and Immigration issues. The PAX courses deal with refugees and social justice issues. These courses are not experiential learning, but I give the students service learning as an option.
What’s your understanding of service-learning?
To me service learning is engaging students in relationships with communities that benefit from Paulo Freire’s idea of the community as an educational center. I believe it is a fitting model for DePaul students because it should follow the Vincentian ethical principles of respect for communities following social justice principles.
Why did you choose to use service-learning in this course?
I believe in the effectiveness of service-learning when respect for human dignity and openness to learn from communities is at its core. I was part of the first cohort of professors following the Steans Center first service-learning courses, and I know well the center’s mandate. Before coming to DePaul I was working in the South Bronx community at Bronx Educational Services Center, where I had the fortune to experienced, Paulo Freire’s theories of education first hand, and that changed my life.
What were some of the benefits of doing so?
I want to think students will be better citizens for it, and I want to think it has something to do with their service learning experience. The projects and class discussions have more depth and thoughtfulness.
What were some of the challenges of doing so?
Invariably there is a period during the quarter when trust is an issue. Recently I have also noticed that more and more I have to be vigilant of those who have institutionalized service “learning”, and believe that the mandate is to put in a CV that they have done a lot of service, when it is clear that the learning part was left out or has happen as tangentially.
How well did students’ community experiences complement the academic learning in the course?
Absolutely. To me the service learning community experiences are the course.
What learning strategies did you use to enable students to demonstrate to you that they achieved course learning objectives?
I often invite members of the community centers to present with students on Oral Presentations on issues that affect them directly, such as violence or immigration. I find this to be very effective.
In what ways was the Steans Center involved with your course?
Steans Center provides community partners and in my JYEL I also request two class visits from Steans Center staff for service learning reflections.
Please share a story about your service-learning course?
A student came to my class with a conservative attitude towards immigration. He changed. After the class he came to tell me he was going to study immigration law. He is now studying immigration law in Arizona.
Have you derived any scholarly publications, etc. from your service-learning/community engagement work?
Yes, at Bronx Educational Services I developed a Spanish Curriculum to teach BENL (Basic Education in the Native Language).A few years ago, I presented at the Steans Center Service Conference a paper about the community of Emiliano Zapata Sur –I did the service-learning experience with a group of students that I took to Mérida, México-. The paper was entitled: “Worth a Thousand Words: How a Poem Can Awaken Mutual Respect” (Vale más de mil palabras: Cómo un poema puede despertar mutuo respeto)
What advice would you give to faculty considering using service-learning in their course(s)?
Make sure it is really service-learning, what you are considering.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
Thank you Steans Center for your support these many years, and thank you for staying the course.