Leadership Studies
Kansas State University
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Dr. Kanost's Spanish Translation Course

K-State Spanish Translation Course Impacts Local Social Services through Service-Learning

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Dr. Laura Kanost’s translation course goes beyond the lectures, assignments and paper writing typical of many college classrooms. Within her Introduction to Translation Course at Kansas State University, she seeks to provide a meaningful and empowering experience through her students’ work by teaching with a service-learning pedagogy. Service-learning is an educational practice that allows students to learn and reflect on community based learning experiences. Kanost is an Associate Professor of Spanish and a champion of service-learning on campus.

“Having the opportunity to integrate a project that will impact the community allows students to become confident and gain the ability to push their work towards a greater meaning,” says Kanost when explaining the reasoning behind integrating service-learning into her courses.

Students in her course are currently working on a group project with community partners they began in September. Each group is partnered with The Crisis Center, Manhattan Public Library, or Flint Hills Adopt-A-Family to produce professional quality Spanish translations for materials used by the respective organization. The project began with students engaging with their community partner to learn about the purpose of the translations, as well as the targeted audience.

“We are excited to get students’ support and at the same time offer them a professional experience that makes their work real. This allows us to get access to quality translations that are a respectful and accurate representation of our message to share with Spanish speaking families in the Manhattan community,” Danielle Schapaugh, Public Relations Coordinator of the Manhattan Public Library, expresses when sharing how this partnership has impacted the library.

Now students are working with a Computer Assisted Translation tool to translate the documents. Kanost, as well as a modern languages graduate student and local legal interpreter, Thelma Carley, will revise the documents. Students will then submit their final translations to their community partners in early December.

Liam Reilly, senior in civil engineering, with a minor in Spanish shares, “By helping the Manhattan Public Library, we will be able to reach more people and help people who would not otherwise know about the services available. Knowing that we could be bettering the lives of people who would have otherwise not known about a service due to language barriers is definitely the biggest takeaway for me.”

Before the end of the semester, students will have the opportunity to get feedback and hear the impact their translation documents are having within the community. Through these interactions, the full circle of service-learning will come together for Kanost’s students.

Service-learning continues to be a cornerstone of The School of Leadership Studies with professors across campus, like Dr. Kanost, being champions for this teaching and learning for citizenship education, community development, and growth. Kanost is also a 2013 Kansas Campus Compact Engaged Faculty Fellow. Kansas Campus Compact is a statewide organization that provides guidance for faculty seeking civic engagement into teaching and research and is housed at K-State.

By bringing service-learning into the classroom, students become equipped with skills of teamwork and civic responsibility they can take with them into their future careers and communities. Kanost is a pioneer for this work in her discipline.

Be the Fan

K-State athletes build relationships with local Special Olympics athletes through "Be the Fan" Service-Learning Project for their LEAD 212 class

Be the Fan pictureIn July 2013, 40 Kansas State University athletes hosted 35 Special Olympics athletes for the "Be the Fan" program, an afternoon of a variety of activities at the K-State football training facility. K-State athletes developed different stations for the Special Olympics athletes to participate in, including warm-ups, passing drills, and cheering on one another. These activities allowed Special Olympics athletes to learn how to build teamwork and confidence within themselves and one another.

Beyond the "Be the Fan" afternoon program, K-State athletes first attended some of the Special Olympics athletes' softball games and bowling tournaments to show their support and begin connecting with each other. The relationships that were made furthered the impact each athlete was able to have on one another at the training facility because of the excitement built up by getting to see each other again.

Assistant professor Dr. Andy Wefald and instructor Dr. Mike Finnegan, partnered with Kim Schnee in the Manhattan High School Special Education Department, and saw this as a valuable learning experience for both sets of athletes. The School of Leadership Studies continually looks for ways to embed service-learning into its curriculum, and "Be the Fan" was the perfect outlet for students to further this learning outside of the classroom. Wefald mentioned, "I enjoyed watching the athletes' relationship grow throughout the project, which made me excited about the bigger opportunities we can shoot for with the Special Olympics program in the future". It was an opportunity for the K-State athletes to share their talents with and learn from the Special Olympics athletes who usually serve as some of the biggest K-State fans throughout the year.

At the training facility the "Be the Fan" program concluded with an autograph signing. This autograph signing was designed so the K-State athletes brought shirts and stood in line to receive autographs from the Special Olympics athletes. "The overall ability of our athletes to work together increased. Our student athletes are still talking about the K-State athletes asking them for their autographs...it was the highlight of their summer," said Jamie Schnee, Special Olympics Coach.