15 April 2013

Tax day, and the day of the blast in Boston. I spoke to two tutors, students at UK today, both students in a Spanish class performing service learning at the UK. Both students were sophomores, and both were from Louisville. One was a Communications major, the other Spanish.

They asked about my research and what I studied. At a certain point in our conversation, I asked them if they had heard about the explosion in Boston.

“Yeah, that’s terrible.”

“I did, yes, people have been tweeting about it like crazy.”

We shared some hashtags with one another. I asked them about tutoring at the library.

“It’s good practice, but I know I really don’t use it much with the kids.”

“Neither do I, I get kind of embarrassed.”

Right: exactly, the service learning and the politics of the linguistic marketplace. As I speak to them, and I reflect on what’s happening in Boston, I ask myself about how the event itself comes international, transnational, and translinguistic. The distribution of the tragedy in and its linguistic circulation, brokered into communicative strategies agents conduct exchanges. Right: theory for I try to speak Spanglish with the tutees, and the same advice I gave them. Throw in some Spanish, just small words here and there. Even the devalued Pocho Spanish-flavored English has value for second language acquisition when situated in the English dominant linguistic marketplace.

But back to Boston: what a tragedy, and something close, a place I could have lived. It’s difficult to understand what’s happening in Boston, but the images are horrific. The university has already sent out emails instructing staff to be observant.


I ended up helping Perla, and chatting with her father for a few minutes. He works at a golf course north of the city. He said it’s a difficult job. He’s one of the parents I’m really starting to feel rapport with. I said hello to his son, Benito, and I started to realize I was getting to know the families. I don’t know the parents yet like I did at MANOS, but I am developing connections and my use of Spanish is building this. Also through greeting some of the students in the open area of the library helps this. My regular volunteer work has also contributed to my ethos at the library.

With Perla, we worked on her spelling. I tested her on the words as she wrote them into sentences. She didn’t need much help. With her math homework, the same. She’s bright. She reminds me of a few MANOS students, and I can see that her father is very dedicated to her schooling. There may be more fathers involved here because of the type of involvement.

Question: is there more father or mother involvement at MANOS or Mexington? I suspect Mexington, and that’s because there’s less involvement with the tutoring session, or perhaps because of the division of labor in the families, or perhaps simply schedules. I will have to make some observations about this when I return to MANOS in a few weeks. I can ask the library for the rolls for the last year as well to see which parents have been involved with library programs. I hope MANOS has some of that information.

The second and last student I helped was Mario, first grader. We worked on his spelling words, which he wrote three times each with a pencil, a pen, and a marker. I quizzed him on each word with each writing tool. He was prone to use “qw” to represent “qu” as in “quiet”. He was getting better with the word by the third time he wrote it. I also quizzed him orally several times how to spell “quiet” and “quick”.