As the service-learning liaison I am in charge of fostering the blossoming (pun-intended) relationship between our participants and a cohort of Spanish 101 students at UVM. The Spanish 101 Composition & Conversation course, which explores the history of human migration from Mexico to the US, is designated as a service-learning class by the UVM Community-University Partnerships & Service-Learning (CUPS) office. As a service-learning class, the course is intentionally designed to offer a unique experiential learning process that seeks to draw strong connections between the classroom and our local communities.
UVM Mascot “Rally” visits Huertas fundraiser (Shaw, 2015)
This semester I had the pleasure of working with an incredible group of 27 students that ranged from first-years to seniors. It was the second semester that this specific Spanish 101 course has partnered with Huertas, and as the service-learning liaison I facilitate student visits to the home of Huerta participants. This semester’s group helped with the execution of a very successful on-campus fundraiser in which Mexican-inspired desserts and Huertas t-shirts were sold. The students also took advantage of the opportunity to share information about Huertas with their UVM peers. The class successfully raised over $300, some of which was used to purchase some much-needed garden tools. Despite this spring’s not-so-cooperative weather, several of the Spanish 101 students were additionally able to venture out to the homes of Huertas participants to help dig up new garden plots and clean up those from seasons past. The reactions of many of the students upon their returns made all of my recent crazed coordinating efforts entirely worth it. When asked how her recent visit went, a student replied, “It was amazing! That was the most perfect experience for our class, and our host was incredible! We all want to return to help them in their garden this summer.”
Service-learning visit & garden prep (Wolcott-MacCausland, 2015)
Perhaps what has been most gratifying about working with Huertas is seeing the Spanish 101 students develop over the semester into engaged learners and active community members. Many have expressed interest in volunteering with Huertas over the summer, as well as interning during the next academic year. It is immensely inspiring to see fellow students feel passionate and motivated by the work that Huertas does, which will only be beneficial in further cultivating the growing Huertas community.
I am very grateful to have been part of the Huertas team, and I am excited to see how the relationships between UVM students and Huertas continues to flourish! Mil gracias to the lovely Huertas team, participants, professor Rachael Montesano, and the awesome Spanish 101 service-learning course!