Four years ago, the Spanish teacher Elena Mangione-Lora created the course âIntroduction to translation and interpretationâ with the aim of having a real impact on the local community and teaching students through experience. The course is offered in the spring semester and focuses on translation theory, ethics, procedures and techniques while working with two partner organizations.
Since the course began four years ago, students have worked with Holy Cross School, a local Catholic elementary school, on various projects. This year Mangione-Lora added a second partner organization in Chile called The FundaciÃ³n BY, which helps people with intellectual disabilities to integrate socially.
For the first project, the students translate the preschool curriculum of Holy Cross School from Spanish into English.
Clare Roach – Spanish Two-Way Immersion Program Coordinator at Holy Cross School and coordinator of the English as a New Language program through the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) in Notre Dame – said the Holy Cross School program is shared with 10 elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago who are trying to integrate Spanish language education into their early childhood programs. The program should be translated for principals and administrators of schools in Chicago who do not speak Spanish.
In addition to translating the program, the Notre Dame students also completed the art projects integrated into the thematic units, Roach said.
âSo they didn’t just translate the program – they improved it,â Roach said.
According to Roach, Spanish-speaking preschoolers who learn the literary foundations of their mother tongue have an easier time acquiring English and making connections with their cultural and linguistic heritage.
Mangione-Lora said she and her students have taken on an extra project very ambitiously, which involves virtually interacting with mentally disabled residents in a home called El Hogar Sagrado CorazÃ³n de JesÃºs through La FundaciÃ³n PAR in Paine, Chile.
Mangione-Lora was inspired to connect with La FundaciÃ³n PAR by two Italian motorcyclists she met at an airport in Chile. The men worked with the organization and encouraged Mangione-Lora to do so as well, she said.
“[They] asked if there was anything we could do to help support, and I said, “Well, I’ll try,” “Mangione-Lora said. “And that’s how the project was born.”
Students have conversations with residents at home throughout the semester and create a final book to give them as a gift.
The book includes a history of the house, profiles of the residents and details of their daily lives. The book serves as an institutional story and can also be shown to community members to raise funds for the house, Mangione-Lora said.
âThe positive side of COVID is that we’ve learned to use technology differently,â Mangione-Lora said. âHaving a community partner across the street is like a community partner on another continent.â
Felipe Ruiz IbÃ¡Ã±ez, executive director of FundaciÃ³n PAR, said residents enjoyed talking with Notre Dame students, especially because COVID-19 limited their ability to leave home and interact with others.
Junior Alena Coleman, a student in the course, said she has been able to facilitate connections and communication between people who speak different languages ââand come from different cultures.
âWhat I took away is that the translation is really involved in the community,â said Coleman. “[It] is actually very meaningful and can really make a difference in people’s lives.
Mangione-Lora said the students do an amazing job doing two semesters of work in one.
âI’m so proud of the students taking it all in stride,â Mangione-Lora said. “The students rose to the occasion and they took the lead.”