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May 24, 2023
By Jewel Blanchard, senior English major
Pictured above: Maria Lumbreras’ second grade ELL class visiting the ¡Provecho! art installation in the Hannon Library
How would possibilities for the future change if students discussed college at a young age, as a viable option to plan for and consider throughout all of their education? That question is one that Lady Vanderlip asked herself, when considering the future of young English Language Learners (ELLs) and children of immigrant parents who are living in the Rogue Valley. Lady, who teaches Spanish at SOU, describes herself as “committed to the success of the next generation of students, particularly immigrant children.” In collaboration with Maria Lumbreras, a second-grade teacher at Wilson Elementary in Medford, Lady hatched a plan to bring some of Maria’s students to the SOU campus. The trip would introduce these children, all of whom were ELLs, to the concept of college and encourage them to start thinking about higher education from an early age.
Pictured Above: The students meeting Rocky the Raider.
“One of my goals for this wonderful opportunity is to inspire my students to start thinking about post-secondary aspirations.”
– Maria Lumbreras
Lady and Maria planned on taking the students to the SOU campus to meet Rocky the Raider and listen to a story about the mascot that was written in Spanish and English by education major Jose Villalobos. The trip would conclude with the students touring two art installations on campus that feature Latino/a/x identities. The event certainly was a collaborative effort; Lady credits the help and participation of the Schneider Museum of Art, Jonathan Chavez-Baez and the Office for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion, the Hannon Library, the English Program, Admissions, the Spanish 203 class, Youth Programs, and more. With an itinerary in place, the field trip would effectively introduce Maria’s students to SOU through the work and expertise of artists, writers, and professors of a similar heritage to them, “so students could see themselves in these respective fields in the academic sphere.”
Pictured Above: The students sitting in front of the Hannon Library.
A key piece of this field trip itinerary, the aforementioned book reading, couldn’t have happened without education student Jose Villalobos. As part of an unrelated project for his first grade classroom, Jose had recently written a bilingual children’s book about Rocky the Raider, whose cover officially (and adorably) credits Rocky as the “author” and Jose as the “translator.” His book, “Un Halcón Tiene Músculos” (“A Falcon Has Muscles”), is about Rocky visiting and training with SOU student athletes in order to achieve his dream of gaining muscles. Jose says that he “wanted to create something that is highly entertaining” for kids, a superhero story that would inspire students to achieve their own dreams. Jose is currently in partnership with the English Program and the Oregon Writing Project, with encouragement from SOU President Rick Bailey, to get his book published and hopefully sold in the SOU Bookstore, to continue inspiring young students for years to come.
“All these activities were curated to inspire students with a Latino/a/x background to think about their futures and how higher education can play a big role in their lives.”
– Lady Vanderlip
On the day of the field trip, the students were thrilled to be exploring campus, and were so excited to meet Rocky and hear Jose’s story. Their tour guide, Spanish student Nina Schiefelbein, played a recorded message from Jose to the students, as Jose was student-teaching at the time and couldn’t be there. Jose’s message as the “translator” of Rocky’s book encouraged the students to dream big and pursue their dreams just like Rocky did in the story. English Program faculty Dr. Alma Rosa Alvarez, a friend of Lady and fellow advocate for young Latino/a/x student success, stopped by after the book reading. She spent time talking with the students, answering their questions, and leading a fun storytelling game with them.
Pictured Above: Jewel Blanchard reading “Un Halcón Tiene Músculos” to the students.
From the storytime, Nina led Maria’s class to the Hannon Library, where they learned about the art installation by Latino/a/x artist Justin Favela, titled ¡Provecho!, courtesy of the Schneider Museum’s talented educators. The kids tried to pick out all of the smaller images of food within the massive piñata-style mosaic of fabric. Next, Nina led the students upstairs to meet the “terrifying but friendly” sculpture of Swampy the swamp horse, and all the students got to give Swampy a pat for good luck. The last stop on the tour was Churchill Hall, where the class visited the Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion to see the mural The Rivers of Time. This mural depicts the past and future of marginalized groups in Oregon, and how their unique experiences and journeys are currents mixing together in a metaphorical river of time.
Pictured Above: Student tour guide Nina Schiefelbein introducing the students to Swampy in the Hannon Library.
The field trip was a success, with the second grade students learning about SOU students, professors, campus, art, and culture in only a couple of hours. Seeing their excited and curious faces made all of the hard work planning and collaborating worth it. This day will certainly be one to remember for the class as they continue their education and think about their futures. Time will only tell whether this group of students will choose to attend college, but the care and mentorship of figures like Maria and Lady will certainly pave the way for a bright future for each one.
Pictured Above: Students standing in front of the mural The Rivers of Time in Churchill Hall.
Interested in being featured on the English Program blog? Or know someone who is interested? Contact English Program blogger Jewel Blanchard at email@example.com .