Spanish course offers service learning projects


Senora Perry is the retired high school Spanish teacher that was adopted by one of the teams in the Spanish for Health Care class. The students on the team spoke Spanish during their visits.

Nisheeka Simmons, Staff Writer

The new Spanish for Health Care (Spanish 220) class taught at Francis Marion University (FMU) has been reaching out to local healthcare organizations to raise awareness for the need for Hispanic outreach in the health care professions.

Spanish for Health Care is a service learning course that was offered for the first time in fall 2013.  Wendy Caldwell, associate professor of Spanish, taught the Spanish for Health Care course and said it was a learning experience both inside and outside of the classroom.

“I think it is a very rewarding experience for most students; some of the teams put in a lot of hours,” Caldwell said.  “Students who may not do well on traditional assignments tend to go above and beyond on the service projects.  This class makes students reflect critically about the community’s needs and their role as an engaged citizen.”

Mary Bachelor, senior Spanish major, was a student in the class and a team member in one of the four service projects in which the class was participating.  As a part of the ¡Salud! team, Bachelor was working to co-produce a CD to be distributed to several organizations, such as McLeod Hospital System, that serve children.

“At the beginning of the semester, [Professor Caldwell] got all our basic information and asked us what our interests are,” Bachelor said. “Another student had put that they were interested in music production, and I had put that I had interest in guitar, piano and singing.  That is where the idea for a music CD came from.”

Bachelor said the CD will include original songs with health-related themes, including exercise and hygiene.  The CD will be titled “¡Salud! Canciones para niños.”  Bachelor added that production posed its challenges, but she had fun and the end result is worth it.

Caldwell said each of the four teams from the service class sponsored with a partner agency.

For example, the Pee Dee Coalition team volunteered for the Coalition and provided translations of brochures and PowerPoint presentations shown to Spanish-speaking audiences. 

The McLeod Hospital team assisted with translations during the McLeod Diabetes Fair and aided with accurately translating signs shown in the hospital to Spanish. 

Another team, the Laurel Gardens Assisted Living adopted a retired high school Spanish teacher and spoke the language with her during their visits.

Caldwell said the Spanish for Health Care course was designed through a Ready to Experience Applied Learning (REAL/QEP) course grant.  Spanish majors, minors and students pursuing a major in a health-related field are all allowed to take the class.  According to Caldwell, the class filled up quickly with students majoring in areas from chemistry to sociology.

She explained that 36 percent of the Hispanic population resides in the South and that, according to the 2010 Census, South Carolina was the state that saw the fastest increase in its Hispanic population.

“The area [Florence] has two major hospital systems, so it also seemed like a logical need in the community,” Caldwell said. “This is one of the largest service classes I have ever taught.  It has been a learning experience, and it has been very rewarding.”