LEC Spanish students partner with local organizations for community based learning


In a move combining classroom theory with the pursuit of a just and compassionate world, Lake Erie College’s Spanish Department has launched a new community based learning (CBL) experience.

Rooted in partnerships with community organizations, the CBL experience will allow LEC’s Spanish students to leave their comfort zones behind, gaining greater understanding of Hispanic culture along the way. The project will hone the students’ communicative Spanish skills and provide valuable resources to the surrounding community, ultimately creating mutually beneficial relationships.

As a main component of the project, students will spend three hours serving at a Hispanic and/or Spanish-speaking organization in the community. This initiative not only allows students to learn within their community, but also strengthens ties between the community and the College, highlighting the importance of community contributions at any stage of life along the way.

“I am excited for our students to step off campus to gain valuable life experience while practicing their language skills in a way that we cannot do in the classroom,” said Dr. Jaclyn Salkauski, assistant professor of Spanish. “The truth is that my students are a little bit nervous about trying something new, but this is a good thing. This tells me that significant personal growth is just waiting to take place for those who forge into new waters despite their fears.”

Dr. Salkauski, who spearheaded the CBL experience, is in her first year at Lake Erie College, having most recently taught at Indiana University and The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). A native of Cleveland, she notes, “I am looking forward to working with the very same communities that helped me in a way that allows me to be here in the first place.”

Lake Erie College has a long-standing tradition of embracing personal development and community involvement as necessary tools for the formation of successful, competent, and compassionate members of the community. In fact, LEC was the first of United States colleges to require a semester of study abroad in 1953. While this is no longer the requirement, the sentiment of global relations spanning geographic and linguistic boundaries is evidenced throughout the current course offerings, designed to educate well-rounded members of a global society.

The list of community organizations who have partnered with LEC students is varied. Students will be collaborating with local restaurants, landscaping companies, religious organizations, medical professionals, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, childcare facilities, elderly care facilities, sport complexes, and schools, amongst many others.

One such community partner, Sister Dolores Mikula, SND of St. Mary Church, has echoed the sentiment of the community: “I think [this experience] could really open students’ eyes and hearts to the reality that our Hispanic brothers and sisters are facing, especially here in Painesville. We want to help you in educating folks about the immigrant reality!”

The CBL experience will span the fall semester as students submit self-reflective assignments that document their experiences as well as their personal and language skills growth. LEC Spanish students will present their personal experiences in class just before the Thanksgiving break.

All students enrolled in Spanish classes at Lake Erie College during the spring 2018 semester will have the opportunity to interact with the community in this way.

If you are a local business who is interested in partnering with the LEC Spanish Department in upcoming semesters, please contact Dr. Salkauski at jsalkauski@lec.edu or at 440-375-7163.

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