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Taking Latin America to the Community

Published: Monday, 01 Feb 2016
Author: Joy M Whitten
Department: Latin American Studies Center

For a second year, MSU students enthusiastically took Latin American and Caribbean culture to a local elementary school.  The student groups, Brazuca, Caribbean Student Association, Latinos on the Move and Spanish Club recruited volunteers to run activities for elementary students at Pinecrest Elementary International Night in East Lansing.  Eighteen MSU students helped children learn Portuguese and Spanish colors and numbers, color paper calaveras or skulls, make gods eyes, flowers, and papel picado which is paper cut into designs.  Children also played La Loteria which is a game similar to bingo where they could learn different Spanish vocabulary.  The MSU students talked about how much they loved working with the children and also taking home their own handmade crafts.

Combining cultural learning while engaging students in an activity also worked well with high school students.  In December, office assistant and graduate student Leydi Egan, helped teach Grand Ledge High School students about the significance of corn in Mesoamerican culture.  Spanish students learned about the creation stories of the Aztecs and Incas and the beliefs of how corn creates and sustains life.  Following the lesson, students made their own tortillas and Mexican hot chocolate.  The high school students told us how much fun they had and thanked us for coming out to share.

This was Leydi's and CLACS's second visit to Grand Ledge High School.  In September, the same teacher, Ginger Metevier, invited CLACS to talk about Mexican Independence Day.  Conversations focused on the dispelling stereotypes and differences between Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence Day.