San Antonio Sabbatical

Mid-Semester Update

Posted on: October 14, 2010

These past two months have gone by rather quickly.  My sabbatical is half over.  Our Lady of the Lake University students have been taking their mid-term exams and are on a fall break today and tomorrow.  So, this seems like a good time to review the goals of my sabbatical leave and assess my progress thus far.

As this is my first sabbatical, I didn’t quite know what to expect.  Sabbatical experiences differ greatly and my sabbatical project is a unique one.   The purpose of my sabbatical is to learn about counseling issues and strategies for working with the Hispanic/Latino population and to improve my speaking ability with the Spanish language.  The primary manner in which I am doing this is by taking two graduate-level psychology courses that are part of OLLU’s Psychological Services for Spanish Speaking Populations (PSSSP) certificate program.  A supplemental activity that I added one month into the semester is weekly Spanish lessons at SEFLA that I spoke about in a previous post.

My lecture class, Language and Psychosocial Variables in Interviews and Assessments with Latinos, is informative and engaging.  Our two textbooks provide lots of data about Hispanics/Latinos and special concerns affecting this population (for example, immigration issues and cultural values) and how these issues affect the counseling process.  Classroom Professor sparks interesting discussions and shares her related personal and professional experiences and encourages the class to share theirs.  By doing the assigned journal entries (see #1, #2, and #3), I have been able to reflect on these issues and more clearly connect the readings to my own experiences.  Furthermore, these journal entries have allowed me to practice my writing skills in Spanish.  The class is currently working on case studies which we will role play in groups at our next class meeting on Monday.  I expect that this activity will be very educational.

My practicum is a clinic placement at Community Counseling Service.  I am a member of the Tuesday Spanish Team.  This team consists of six therapists-in-training, two observers (including myself), and Clinic Team Supervisor.  Therapy sessions are conducted primarily in Spanish (sometimes the younger family members — the children — prefer English, so there may be a switching of languages during the session as all of the therapists and Clinic Team Supervisor are bilingual).  The cases are interesting and reflect a variety of common counseling issues.  The live supervision format (reflecting team) is a great teaching tool.  Although I don’t understand everything that is said, I get the main points and offer comments and support to the students on our “star team”.  This is a name we have given ourselves.  The team has bonded very well and the therapists-in-training have shown great clinical skill, a testament to their OLLU training.  Clinic Team Supervisor has a relaxed and supportive style which makes the learning environment comfortable and enjoyable.  At this week’s clinic meeting, prior to our client’s arrival we had our mid-semester reviews/check-ins (one-on-one meetings between each student and Clinic Team Supervisor followed by a sentimental group check-in with the entire team).  Everyone seems very pleased with the way things are going.  The team members complimented me on my participation and choice to spend my sabbatical leave at OLLU.  I really like this Spanish Clinic Team and the clients whom we are serving.

Elvia, my private language teacher at SEFLA, is doing a great job of engaging me in Spanish conversation.  We have had open discussions about a variety of topics, reviewed some grammar (preterite and imperfect verb tenses), reviewed exercises that I completed in the workbook, and played fun educational games (hangman and a guess-the-person-that-I-am-describing game).  At my request, we spent half of one lesson working on the language for my role play for Classroom Professor’s class.  I’m enjoying these extra lessons with Elvia.  She’s knowledgeable and fun.  Elvia likes working with me; she said that I am “a joy to teach”.  We’ve already completed four of our ten scheduled meetings.  She has invited me to her home so I’ll probably be visiting her soon.

One difficulty I’m having is doing my assignments without the aid of my Spanish reference books.  My parcel post package of books (which I mailed two months ago) never arrived.  The box was damaged in transit and its contents spilled out.  I’ve been working with my postmaster to try to recover these missing mail items from the Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta, Georgia and will probably file a claim for monetary reimbursement (the missing box was insured for $200).  I miss having my Spanish dictionary (I’ve been using Yahoo’s Babel Fish to look up words), verb conjugation book, and medical Spanish guide for psychologists.  Yesterday, I finally gave in and ordered duplicates of these books from Amazon.com so the remainder of the semester should go more smoothly once I have my trusted language tools.

I’m looking forward to attending my first National Latina/o Psychological Association conference next month in San Antonio.  It will be wonderful to hear many of the Latino-themed sessions, learn about current research in the field, and meet my fellow colleagues (in fact, one of my fellow interns from our University of California – Santa Barbara days will be one of the presenters).  OLLU, one of the NLPA conference co-sponsors, will be hosting special events — a reception, student poster session, and a reading — as well.  This should be a very good experience.

Part of the reason for having this blog is to share some useful resources with my readers.  Regarding issues of Hispanic/Latino culture, I have posted a few educational items.  Check these out:

Overall, I’m making very good progress towards my sabbatical goals.  I’m learning a lot and enjoying my time in San Antonio, Texas.

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