UNCW Students Use Spanish Speaking Skills to Serve the Community

Monday, November 16, 2015

Students in advanced Spanish classes at UNCW will demonstrate how they have used their language skills to assist Wilmington community organizations during the Nov. 18 Spanish Service-learning Showcase. Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli is scheduled to speak at the event, to be held in the lobby of the Computer Information Systems building, and the students’ work will be displayed from 8:30 to 10 a.m.

The Spanish service-learning project involved University of North Carolina Wilmington students enrolled in Spanish 490 under associate professors Amanda Boomershine and Amrita Das of the Department of World Languages and Cultures. Boomershine and Das worked with Centro Hispano and Randall Library to secure a grant from the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“This project allowed students to immerse themselves in the language, but they were not the only beneficiaries,” Boomershine said. “Agencies that work with Spanish-speaking clients have a critical need for people with bilingual skills; our students provided services that helped those agencies do their jobs. Students also saw that fluency in another language has considerable value in the labor market.”

After completing 30 hours of service to social services agencies, clinics and an immigration law firm, students created posters showcasing what they learned – in Spanish, of course. In addition to practicing their Spanish skills, some also got unexpected experience providing other services to clients. For example, a student working in St. Mary’s Dental Clinic literally got hands-on experience working with patients, Boomershine said.

As part of the project each student also produced an oral narrative on a prominent Hispanic resident of North Carolina; the narratives will be preserved in the Randall Library’s oral history archive.

-- Tricia Vance