Cross-cultural studying right in their own backyard
GOSHEN, Ind. — Sometimes you don’t have to travel thousands of miles in an airplane over oceans to truly encounter another culture. Sometimes you just have to cross the street.
This summer, Goshen College students are participating in the 40-plus year old program Study-Service Term (SST) in Senegal, Peru, Nicaragua ... and Northern Indiana. Four college students are participating in the Goshen College Latino Studies Semester in Northern Indiana, the first domestic SST location.
Ana Juarez, the director for the program, said that all four students grew up around here and this is “changing their perspectives on their community, even though it is the same place.”
Sophomore Jair Hernandez, who grew up in Goshen, said, “This program wasn’t set up to be a complete immersion. The purpose is to study a culture that is trying to integrate here. It has opened my eyes to things I wasn’t aware of before. Now I have a different perspective.”
Similar to other SST locations in places that have “significantly different” cultures, the students are studying another language, in this case Spanish. Two of the students are beginners and are learning conversational skills. The more advanced students are learning professional skills, as well as research and literature. In addition, students write weekly journal entries and work on papers and projects.
Junior Ivette Sifuentes, from Elkhart, said that she is enjoying the Spanish classes, the first she has taken as Spanish is her first language. Her teacher is correcting her grammar and helping her not to speak in Spanglish, a mixture of English and Spanish that she grew up with.
Though Hernandez and Sifuentes, as Latino students themselves, are much more familiar with the culture that they are studying this summer, “they are learning their own culture in a different way and have more appreciation for their own culture,” Juarez said. “They are learning more the reasons why different groups immigrated, as well as what people and organizations are already doing.”
Part of that learning comes from regular field trips, guest speakers and cultural events.
Like students in other study abroad locations, the students in Goshen are paired up with host families, though they meet with them weekly instead of live with them.
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