I joined the Peace Corps at age 19. I was selected because of my background in 4-H to work in Agricultural Extension in El Salvador, Central America. The experience changed my life. It taught me Spanish but more importantly it taught me that there are different ways of living and thinking in this world.
I have continued to have a relationship with El Salvador through the past many years. I was part of a church community that declared Sanctuary for El Salvadorans and Guatemalans fleeing the violence in their countries in the 1980s.
In 2001 I returned to El Salvador to do the field research for my dissertation. I wanted to study the effects of the war on current women leaders. I choose a repopulated community Huisisilapa in the northern state of La Libertad. I lived in the community for most of five months interviewing women and learning about their lives and seeing them carrying out duties as volunteer women leaders.
Upon returning to Spokane, I organized a group of women to build on my relationship with the women in Huisisilapa. Hermanas Spokane began February 2002 and in 2008 received non-profit 509(3) status. Visit us at HermanasSpokane.org.
BiLingo Kidz is a computer program for ages 7-14 and the kid in each of us. I developed the program as I realized that many young people do not have access to learn Spanish at an age where they can learn to speak as a native. The program is culturally authentic with mini-stories in Spanish about four children who live in Latin America: María Esther a 10 year old girl from El Salvador, Juan Pablo an 8 year old boy from Colombia, Diego a 14 year old from Mexico, and Teresa a 12 year old from Chile. All the stories are recorded using native speakers from the respective countries. The CD-ROM also includes original watercolors painted using over 6,000 pictures taken in the countries and question activities to reinforce the vocabulary. The vocabulary uses adapted ASL to teach vocabulary kinesthetically concurrent with the audio. Games reward students for their progress.
Dr. Phyllis Andersen
Spokane Community College
1810 North Greene Street
Spokane, WA 99217