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Medical Spanish Class Wins Service Learning Award

Educator Instructor Ligia Gomez's Medical Spanish class won the exemplary post-secondary service learning project award given by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's Agenda 360 and Northern Kentucky's Vision 2015 at the inaugural Greater Cincinnati Celebration of Service on Sept. 27.

Date: 10/26/2011 3:30:00 PM
By: Ryan Varney
Phone: (513) 556-4190
Photos By: Ligia Gomez
Medical Spanish, a class offered by the Department of Romance Languages and Literature in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, was the recipient of an exemplary post-secondary service learning award at the first Greater Cincinnati Celebration of Service on Sept. 27. Educator Instructor Ligia Gomez talks about her class and their work and the Greater Cincinnati Celebration of Service.
Gomez (center) with her Medical Spanish class won a service learning award at the first Greater Cincinnati Celebration of Service.
Gomez (center) with her Medical Spanish class won a service learning award at the first Greater Cincinnati Celebration of Service.

What is the Greater Cincinnati Celebration of Service?

It's an event to celebrate the regionís culture of giving and service to others and honor those whose exceptional contributions inspire others to give back to the community. On Sept. 27, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamberís Agenda 360 and Northern Kentuckyís Vision 2015 hosted the first Greater Cincinnati Celebration of Service.

Other event partners were Children, Inc., the Northern Kentucky Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, UGIVE and United Way of Greater Cincinnati.

Agenda 360 and Vision 2015 were honored to participate in this celebration of student service learning and community service. To quote Bill Scheyer, president of Vision 2015, ďWe believe that the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region has a vibrant culture of service in our schools and that we can build upon our strengths to create a national model. We believe that our young people can have a transformational impact on our community and as we do our work, we will be capturing the exemplary programs and service projects that make our region unique.Ē

The exemplary post-secondary service learning project award was shared by the Spanish assistance program at the University of Cincinnati and Thomas More College. UCís Service Learning course connects students of Spanish with health care institutions to help Hispanic families communicate with health care workers and navigate the health care system through interpretation, creation of educational videos, and translation of pamphlets. Students work weekly at clinics, hospitals, social agencies and health fairs.

Thomas More Collegeís Jamaica Service Learning Program is designed to expose students to different cultures and ethnicities and promote leadership, communication and organizational skills.

What did your class do to get nominated for the exemplary post-secondary service learning award?

The Regional Student Service Network, lead by Vision 2015 and Agenda 360, invited the University of Cincinnati to nominate an outstanding student lead service project. The Spanish Assistance Program was nominated for this award by Michael Sharp, director of the Center for Service-Learning & Civic Engagement.

How has participating in a service learning project affected you and your students?

The effects on the individual student participants are summed up well by the following student reflection.

"In addition to the linguistic benefit that we receive by being able to practice the Spanish language with native speakers from various countries of South America, we get the chance to make a real difference for families and individuals who do not have the same opportunities we do. For these immigrants, living and working in a country where they donít have a command of the language and culture is a tremendous obstacle to overcome. Unlike a regular college class where you sit in a classroom and take the information from the professor, this service learning course allowed us to directly interact with and help people of limited resources who were in need. In this class the students all made an effort to do the work, learn and grow personally. My trimester at University Hospital was a tremendous experience. I got to work in both outpatient and inpatient departments where I interpreted for Hispanic patients to help them communicate their needs to the health care workers, and to understand the advice and instructions they were being given. This experience ameliorated my speaking skills and widened my vocabulary while giving me a wonderful opportunity to help people in need."

In what ways has your project benefited the Hispanic community?

These students helped to close a significant health care gap, resulting in improved service to this vulnerable population. The organizations served by these students have expressed great appreciation for receiving a hand in an area where there are few resources in the community. The organizations served included University Hospital, the Women Center, Bethesda North Hospital Prenatal Unit, the Healing Center and several health fairs throughout the city.

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