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Latin American Studies

Learning through Community Engagement in Latin American and Latino Communities

Story posted July 15, 2013

Alternative Spring Break

Two of this year’s Alternative Spring Break trips worked with organizations serving a Latino or Latin American community.

Harvesting Communities in Immokalee, Florida
Led by Leovanny Fernández ‘14 and Macy Galvan ’13, participants spent the week working with and learning from the migrant workers of Immokalee, Florida by tutoring youth, assisting in a soup kitchen, and advocating for their fair and humane treatment. During their time in Immokalee, the group also met with Bowdoin alumni, Primitivo Garza ’12 (an Immokalee resident), and Allen Ryan, who serves on the Board of the Guadalupe Center, which provides support and educational opportunities for the children of Immokalee.

Spring to Safe Passage in Guatemala City
For the ninth consecutive year, Bowdoin students spent a week working at Safe Passage, which was founded by Bowdoin alumna Hanley Denning ’92. Led by Sandra Martinez ’13 and Tasha Sandoval ’13, participants engaged in cross-cultural exchange and participated in discussion, worked in English classrooms, and facilitated creative projects focused on education and support for the children and adults of the Guatemala City garbage dump community. During the week the students also met with a Bowdoin Alumni Service Trip at Safe Passage, which included Latin American Studies alum Jennie Kneedler ’98.

Community-based Partnership With El Centro Latino De Maine
During the fall semester of 2012, Genie Wheelwright’s students in Spanish 203: Intermediate Spanish I, spent one evening a week at El Centro Latino in Portland, Maine, tutoring Latino immigrants in English. Through the tutoring sessions the Bowdoin students also developed their Spanish skills and learned about the immigrants’ home communities and the challenges they face here in Maine. The partnership was so successful that after the course ended, the students continued driving to Portland to work with the Latino students weekly throughout the spring semester, and they have made a commitment to carry on the work next fall.

With the support of the McKeen Center for the Common Good, each year students take advantage of opportunities such as community-engaged courses, the Global Citizens Grant immersion fellowship or the Alternative Spring Break trip program to deepen their understanding of issues such as food security, environmental sustainability, public health, education, immigration in Latino communities and in Latin America.