The cognitive, financial, and career benefits accompanying biliteracy and bilingualism are legion. They often play a leading role when advocates make the case for dual language immersion programs–and well they should. Who doesn’t want a leg-up in the job market, or to keep their brain fit as a fiddle? But despite being less quantifiable, the ways in which dual language immersion education often enlarges the hearts of students is important too.
That’s why we began a discussion this summer about ways in which the increased cultural awareness accompanying immersion education often leads to greater empathy and a passion for service.
Despite being less quantifiable, the ways in which dual language immersion education often enlarges the hearts of students is important too.
Stephanie Irizarry recently caught up with her former Spanish immersion student, Olivia Hines, who traveled to Guatemala this summer on a service trip. Olivia was kind enough to permit us to share some reflections and photographs from her trip with our blog readers. We think you’ll enjoy them, and we hope they inspire you to large-heartedness too. Way to go, Olivia!
Me siento tan afortunada y agradecida por la oportunidad de viajar a otros países y poder usar mi español en la vida real. Esta experiencia me ha mostrado lo importante y especial que es este regalo de saber otro idioma. Me da un motivo más para seguir esforzándome y para alcanzar el nivel más alto que puedo.
I am so fortunate and grateful for the opportunity to travel to other countries and use my Spanish in real-life experiences. This experience has shown me how special and important the gift of knowing another language is! It gives me more reason to continue pushing myself to be the best I can be, and to raise myself and my language to the highest levels possible.
Additional highlights from Stephanie’s conversation with Olivia:
- Olivia was able to connect in a deeper way with the people she met because she was able to speak Spanish. People often came to her directly because they knew they could communicate with her.
- At prayer for the dedication of the home they built, Olivia was called to translate for her peers in her volunteer group. During the prayer, English, Spanish, and the local indigenous language were spoken, highlighting the value of multiple languages together.
- Olivia gained new insight about the world, especially when exploring the state of housing in the area she served. Olivia saw how the way families were cooking indoors with fire impacted daily life and health soot and ash on the walls, and she saw the way families expressed ways in which the new stoves their team installed in the homes impacted daily life in a positive way.
“Estos chicos nunca habían usado tiza antes, y estaban tan contentos cuando les dijimos que podían ser suyas.” These little boys had never used chalk before. They were so happy when we told them they could have it!
“Estas fotos muestran la transformación de lo que usaron para calentar su comida antes a las estufas nuevas.” These photos show the transformation from what they used to use for cooking to their new stoves.
“Algunas de las niñas nunca habían visto ‘pipe cleaners’. ¡Se puede ver cuánto nos divertimos!” Some of the girls had never seen pipe cleaners. (You can see how much fun we had!)
“Este niño que estuvo en uno de las programas de comida en los que ayudamos me robó el corazón.” This boy who was in the food program we helped stole my heart.
“La primera foto fue con la familia dentro de la casa que construimos como equipo. Las siguientes fotos son nuestro proceso de construir la casa.” The first photo was with the family inside the house that we built as a team. The next photos are of our process of constructing the house.