The first-year students presented original stories written in Spanish to bilingual students from Bridgeport’s Cesar Batalla School
It was definitely rewarding to see that all the hard work I put into creating my book put big smiles on these children’s faces.
— Caitlin Hurley ’21, first-year Fairfield student and Read Aloud participant
Kindergarten students from Cesar Batalla School in Brideport, Conn., enthusiastically gathered in Fairfield University’s Barone Campus Center last Wednesday to participate in the Spanish language program’s annual Read Aloud event. The day marks the culmination of a semester’s work for Fairfield students enrolled in Professor M. Covadonga Arango-Martin’s "Elementary Spanish" class, by offering them the opportunity to read and present original childrens’ books in Spanish that they illustrated and wrote as part of their coursework.
“This event is one of the highlights of the semester,” said Professor Arango-Martin, coordinator for the University’s Spanish language program. “It gives students the opportunity to meet the children they have been writing for, read to them, share common experiences, and see value added to their work.”
At the beginning of the semester, Fairfield students learn about a group of Cesar Batalla students and are assigned to write a story for them based on their ages and interests. The stories are written in Spanish and then read to the students who are bilingual, or learning English. The books are then donated to the Cesar Batalla classrooms for the students to enjoy and read again on their own.
"This was by far the highlight of my Spanish experience at Fairfield,” said first-year student and reader Nora Hofman ’21. “The students were eager to learn and really enjoyed picking out books to read along with me. It reminded me that there is a much larger world outside of Fairfield University’s small community and how valuable learning another language really is."
From family, school, and health to holidays, food, and hobbies, this year’s books spanned a wide range of topics and included stories like Aprendiendo a Través Viajar (Learning through Traveling), a book by Nicholas Grabek ’21 about a boy named Diego who travels to Spain, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, and Teresa la Tarantula by Carlos Myrtill ’21, a story about a lonely and misunderstood spider who eventually makes friends with a brave little boy.
The Spanish language program’s annual Read Alound event is one of many collaborations that take place between Cesar Batalla School and Fairfield University each semester, organized by the Center for Faith and Public Life. The event serves as an opportunity for Fairfield students to put their foreign language skills into practice and for Cesar Batalla students to be taken out of their typical classroom setting in order to experience learning on a college campus. In addition to participating in the informal story time, the kindergarteners received a surprise visit from Lucas the Stag and participated in a variety of outdoor activities with Fairfield students, including ballgames, chalk drawing, and bubble making.
“It was definitely rewarding to see that all the hard work I put into creating my book put big smiles on these children’s faces,” said Caitlin Hurley ’21. “The girls in my group loved looking at the pictures and were so excited to see Lucas the Stag. Reading to these children was a great experience.”