Spanish at Aquinas College

Spanish: Hands-On Experience

Student outside a house with flowers Aquinas Study Away student, Olivia Smith, is spending the first semester of her junior year in Spain. She is taking four classes at the University of Salamanca—grammar, conversation, Spanish culture and Spanish business—with other international students. Olivia is living with a host family during her time in Spain in order to completely immerse herself in the language and culture of the country. She also has the opportunity to travel to Portugal, Ávila, and El Escorial through the University of Salamanca, and has her weekends free to travel around the country and explore Salamanca. >>Read More


students by art

An education is not complete without hands-on experiences. Spring 2017, Dr. Shelli Rottschafer taught Latinx Literature. This upper level Spanish course focused on issues of immigration and adaptation of Latinos/as in the United States.

One of the authors read in the class was Luis J. Rodríguez, who was featured during the 2016-2017 Contemporary Writers Series. Rodríguez met with the Latinx Literature students.  He discussed his personal experience and shared his writing process.

Students also had the opportunity to visit the Detroit Institute of Art to see Diego Rivera's mural "Detroit Industry." The class also took a mural tour around Southwest Detroit, all while learning about the Latinx diaspora, social activism, and creativity.

Alyssa Chartier ‘17 was particularly affected by the course. A Spanish and Community Leadership double major, Chartier is passionate about serving Spanish-speaking populations. She has studied abroad in Spain and participated on the Peru Service Learning trip to Casa Hogar, where she will return after graduation. She loves getting to learn and talk about the Chicano (Mexican - American) community and the positive impact they have on our society. In class, she has specifically focused on empowerment and advocacy for the Chicano community, specifically in Detroit. After the excursion to Detroit, the students wrote poems inspired by their experiences.  

“My poem illustrates the injustices, struggles, and beauty of this part of Detroit,” Chartier says. “The majority of the area is Spanish speaking but is also very diverse. There is so much culture and life that goes unnoticed. The main concept of the poem was to say that if you want to help this community you need to truly understand it.”

Mi Comunidad: Un poema dedicado a SW Detroit
Mi Comunidad 
Mi casa, mi hogar
Un lugar lleno de familia,
Donde el amor está visto y 
Nuestras diferencias nos congregan.

Mi Comunidad 
Muestra la diversidad.
Los chicanos por la calle,
Los árabes cercanos,
Los anglos también.
Todo está aceptado.

Mi Comunidad
Llena de pasión y personas que se expresan por el arte. 
El deseo de hacer arte por las calles es prohibido.
Resistir el sistema, tiene consecuencias.

Mi Comunidad
No es perfecta.
Los edificios vacíos, 
La basura por las calles y casas sucias. 
Todavía es un barrio vibrante. 

Mi Comunidad
Donde la industria, y los camiones  son abundantes. 
Contaminada por las químicas, 
Gases de los autos, crea la mala salud. 

Mi Comunidad 
“Mexico-Town” 
Estos estereotipos no definen esta ciudad.
Somos mucho más que una calle. 
Somos el suroeste de Detroit. 

Mi Comunidad 
Cultiva deseos de crecimiento y el miedo de una cultura perdida.
Inspira la esperanza cuando personas ayudan uno al otro
Instiga la tristeza cuando la ayuda no sirve para nada.

Mi Comunidad
Si quiere ayudar, se necesita aprender de nuestras necesidades. 
Comprender el progreso 
Aceptar la belleza 
Ser nuestro amigo
Entender la diversidad
Ver el arte
Escuchar a los ciudadanos 
Reconocer la lucha 
Sentir la esperanza

Entonces se puede conocer:
la gente
el suroeste
la ciudad 
Mi Comunidad

My Community: A poem dedicated to Southwest Detroit (Translated)
My community
My house, my home
A place full of family
Where love is seen and
Our differences come together.

My community
Displaying the diversity.
Chicanos throughout the streets,
Arab-Americans nearby,
Whites as well.
All are accepted.

My community
Full of passion and people that express themselves through their art.
The desire to make street art is prohibited.
Resisting the system, has its consequences.

My community
It isn’t perfect.
The empty buildings,
The trash throughout the streets and aging houses.
Still it is a vibrant neighborhood.

My community
Where industry and cargo trucks are abundant.
Contaminated by chemicals.
Gas fumes from cars, create bad health.

My community
“Mexico-Town”
These stereotypes don’t define this neighborhood.
We are much more than a street.
We are Southwest Detroit.

My community
Cultivates desires of growth, yet fears loss of culture.
Inspires the hope that people want to help each other.
Instigates sadness when the help doesn’t arrive.

My community
If you want to help, you need to learn of our needs.
Comprehend progress
Accept beauty
Be our friend
Understand diversity
See the art
Listen to our citizens
Know the struggle
Feel the hope.

Then you are able to truly know:
The people
The Southwest
The City
My community.


group photo of students Aurora Arias, a well-known contemporary Latin American writer from the Dominican Republic, visited Professor Bédère's Spanish American Literature class (SH 327). Arias discussed her experience as a writer and two of her short stories the students had previously read and studied.