AcademicsJul 1, 2022

updated Jul 13, 2022

Passion Project — Contribuyendo al bien común

Serving the greater good

One of the great things about learning a language is putting it to practical use.

Sarah Nix, Ph.D.

When Director of Horizons Erica Washburn approached Spanish Teacher Ana Cristina Velez, asking if students would be interested in doing translations for the community, Sra. Velez took the idea to her Hallmark Spanish class. The students jumped at the opportunity, offering the service to their Horizons internships.

“What a resource,” says Sra. Velez. “This is very helpful to people in the community, so they can have information and be aware of things in their native language. We want to continue offering this service through the Hallmark Class in the future.”

Students spent the first semester continuing their study of Spanish literature, grammar, geography, and culture. They went to work on the translations during the second semester, with Sra. Velez dividing the class into teams: Ruby McDonald ’22 and Sienna Trask ’22; Rose Aloo ’22, Randi McGeary ’22, and Samantha Taxter ’22; and Cailyn Tetteh ’22 and Olivia Kick-Nalepa ’22.

The students’ first project was translating informational pamphlets from the Berkshire County District Attorney's Office, where Cailyn interned with the Community Outreach Coordinator. The brochures cover topics such as teen dating violence, how to identify sexual exploitation, and information about the office’s Juvenile Justice Program, a diversion program for youthful offenders.

“What I enjoyed most was reading the translations back to myself and seeing how closely they matched the English text,” says Cailyn. “Though I've been taking Spanish for a while, I am not yet fluent, so it was fun to think of different combinations of things I already knew to recreate the English text, and then read it back and see that I had gotten my meaning across correctly.”

Students particularly enjoyed collaborating to create useful materials for the community. The class is looking for other places it can offer similar help, such as translating Commencement programs and invitations or being a resource to the Admissions Office, possibly providing tours to prospective students and families.

For Sra. Velez, there is magic in seeing the students put their skills to practical use while in service to the larger community. “The students, all seniors, showed a lot of energy, growth, and enthusiasm during the process,” she adds. “That’s the ultimate goal for any teacher. It’s a fabulous way to finish their Spanish careers at Miss Hall’s.”