Spanish class uses service in place of finals

(Photo: Jayde Vogeler, Photography Editor/The Simpsonian)

(Photo: Jayde Vogeler, Photography Editor/The Simpsonian)

by Clayton Bowers, Staff Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Students in Mark Bates’ Spanish 222: Media and Culture class are benefiting others instead of taking an exam for their final. Three groups are doing three separate projects that will go toward providing aid around the world.

The projects range from raising money to provide chickens in areas that were badly hit by the avian flu to having pen pals with kids in Ecuador to helping Latinos in the Des Moines community learn English.

Katie Bucklin, a freshman at Simpson College, has been helping out at the Trinity Methodist Church on the north side of downtown Des Moines. Bucklin, along with her group, has been helping the church out with their English Language Learning Program, which started in 2001 and has had great success since its genesis.

What began as just one teacher and one student has expanded to more than 180 students and 30 volunteer teachers in five different levels of English classes.

“We go down to Trinity on Tuesdays and Thursdays every week,” Bucklin said. “We basically all just talk to the people and help them communicate in English.”

Although these classes consist mostly of Latinos, people from areas across the world, such as Iraq and India, come to these classes to learn English as well.

“The ages of the people involved in the program range from children to adults,” Bucklin said. “I work with a group of women all over the age of 40, but I’ve also talked to 15-year-old kids who work three jobs and still come to these classes.”

Some of these people are new to America, yet some have been here for more than 10 years. Without the ability to communicate effectively, these people have to work low-level jobs that don’t require much or any conversation.

“It’s been incredibly interesting to help the people learn differences that we don’t even think about while communicating,” Bucklin said. “Last week one of my main points was to help them see the difference between ‘help out’ and ‘help in.’”

There’s a way that the Simpson community can help take part in this service project. Those interested can donate hats, mittens or any winter apparel at a mitten tree in Dirlam Lounge in the Smith Chapel through the end of the semester.

“I’m focusing personally on the connection between my church and Trinity,” Bucklin said. “We’ve done things to help feed the homeless, but right now we are doing Christmas boxes where people can bring in beans, rice, games and blankets.”

Anyone can get involved in these projects to help benefit people in the community or across the country. Check out the Facebook page Restock The Flock to see how you can help raise funds to help with the avian flu. The page also provides fun chicken facts regularly.