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Venture Grant Awarded to SH329 Service Trip

The Service Learning portion of the SH329 Chicana Literature course, set for spring 2012, will conclude the semester with a two-week excursion to New Mexico. Shelli Rottschafer, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Spanish, began the service portion of the class in the spring of 2010, and was awarded the Venture Grant from Michigan Campus Connect (MCC) for her proposal entitled “Service Learning in New Mexico/SH329 Chicana Literature.”

“To make the history and the literature come alive, a mandatory travel component to New Mexico is incorporated,” Dr. Rottschafer said. “Chicano implies a multiculturality. Chicano has influences from Spanish speaking cultures, as well as indigenous Native American culture. New Mexico is an excellent blend and an ideal example of this intermeshing.”

The course focuses on the literature itself, including poetry by Jimmy Santiago Baca, as well as the Chicano culture and how its traditions will continue into the future. To supplement this cultural focus, students will travel to Gallup, New Mexico to live at the Rehoboth Christian School on the Navajo Reservation where they will accompany firsthand experience of reservation life with service for the community.

Dr. Rottschafer, with the support from Eric Bridge, Coordinator of Service Learning; Brenda Hennink, Director of Adult Student Recruitment; and Dr. Chad Gunnoe, Provost and Dean of Faculty, was awarded the Venture Grant in order to assist with the project’s funding.

“This grant is awarded for Service Learning experiences, and our New Mexico portion of our Chicana Literature course definitely applied,” Dr. Rottschafer said.

Although the grant will cover many of the costs associated with the two-week excursion, as with other service-learning trips, students will be required to pay a course fee. The excursion will be led by Dr. Rottschafer and Brenda Hennink, who co-lead the first trip in 2010.

“I have spent a good deal of time in the state of New Mexico. I have relatives (both my mother’s and father’s side) that live there. Some of my relatives live on and near the Zuni Reservation,” Hennink said. “Between Dr. Rottschafer and I, we have enough knowledge of the landscape that we do not need to refer to maps when we are there. This leads to a very easy trip with little logistical stress for both the leaders and the participants.”

Students will volunteer in the Rehoboth Elementary School during the morning and in the afternoon will participate in the Head Start program at Church Rock Elementary. They will also do grounds work on Rehoboth’s campus, tour Zuni Pueblo, and travel to Acoma Pueblo, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Chimayo.

Dr. Rottschafer is hoping to continue the Chicano Literature course in the spring of even years, and on odd years hold a Latina Literature course, which had its own travel component this past spring to Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, where students toured street murals, visited the National Mexican American Museum of Art and Culture, and experienced one of the local taquerias.

“I plan to continue this course and its objectives with the help of Brenda Hennink, the support of the Modern Language Department, as well as the AQ community as a whole,” Dr. Rottschafer said. “This class and our students’ efforts definitely demonstrate our commitment to volunteerism and learning from other cultures, as well as making an impact of our own within our greater world community.”