ECE habla Español

We are continuing on in our series about volunteer work and employees who are taking advantage of ECE's service time off program.  This week we're looking at an opportunity that allows for strengthening not only the community, but the day-to-day tasks of an evaluator.  While ECE requires translations for all foreign language documents, many staff members have various levels of expertise with multiple languages. 

Many thanks to our volunteer, Melissa Ganiere.  To find out more about the organization where she serves, visit the Core/El Centro website

Intercambio Language Exchange

I have been involved with the volunteer "intercambio" program at Core/El Centro in Milwaukee, WI for over two years now. Prior to COVID, we met once a week in person. The language exchange involves learners of the Spanish language (of various levels and abilities) speaking to native Spanish speakers who are improving their English fluency. It is a safe environment for language learners to practice, as mistakes are welcomed and gently corrected.

Like most, Core/El Centro became familiar with the word “pivot” during the pandemic, and the Intercambio program moved to a virtual platform. Although a bit more challenging online, due to an absence of body language or the ability to have independent, side conversations, the language exchange continued. The benefit of moving to an online platform, however, allowed folks from outside of the Milwaukee area to join in on the fun.

What do we talk about?

The topics of conversations are as varied and diverse as the people involved.  We’ve discussed political differences, cultural norms, educational beliefs, literature, favorite recipes, and of course, the latest movies and television shows. There is knowledge acquired at every encounter, both of the target language and of each other.

I am happy to give back to my community and am grateful to have a resource that equips me to better communicate with those from the Spanish-speaking world. It's an opportunity to improve myself while also trying to improve the world around me.

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Melissa Ganiere is a Research and Knowledge Management Evaluator and has been with ECE® since 2006.  She specializes in education from Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, along with refugee documentation and online verification. 



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