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Davidson Students Open Community Center for Writing and Culture

October 9, 2000
Contact: Bill Giduz 704/894-2244 or bigiduz@davidson.edu

by Alexandra Obregon '00

Three Davidson College students and their faculty advisor have taken a decisive step towards more culturally sensitive communication with the growing Latino population of northern Mecklenburg County.
Jeremy and student
Jeremy Campbell helps student Ivan Romero.

Under the guidance of Associate Professor of English Shireen Campbell, Jeremy Campbell, Seth Davis, and Eduardo Estrada have begun offering English as a Second Language (ESL) tutoring services without charge to Latino students and families in Huntersville and the surrounding areas.

Funded by grants they received from the Ivy and Sunshine Lady foundations, the tutors meet with people seeking help on Wednesday and Thursday evenings in their new Community Center for Writing and Culture (CCWC), located in the Huntersville Parks & Recreation Center building. Tutors provide one-on-one help with writing and reading assignments, job applications, medical forms, and other vital material that may be lost in translation. They employ teaching methods proven effective in the Davidson College student writing center, which professor Campbell directs.

Professor Campbell explained that the CCWC's cross-cultural outreach is unusual for a college or university writing center. She developed the idea for the project last spring as an independent study project with student Jeremy Campbell to determine a means of extending the services of the writing center into the community.

To prepare for their work, Jeremy and the other student-tutors undertook a four-day training session to learn the logistics and theories behind one-on-one tutoring and cross-cultural communication. The training included a workshop on the challenges of bilingualism led by Ramon Figueroa, assistant professor of Spanish at Davidson and a native of the Dominican Republic.

"Our goal is to help people be more effective at what they do," said Jeremy Campbell.

He and professor Campbell have high hopes for the CCWC, envisioning "a place where trained multilingual tutors provide warmth and compassion." He continued, "We hope individuals may come because of a homework assignment, but stay because they want to improve their speaking abilities in English."

The CCWC is one of several community outreach programs at Davidson that serve Latinos in the Huntersville area and Charlotte. Others include translating services at StrongTower Medical Clinic, and ESL tutoring at Huntersville Elementary and Eastway Middle School.

Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,600 students. Since its establishment in 1837, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country by "U.S. News and World Report" magazine.

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