I’m Hania, and unlike the rest of the bloggers am writing to you from Salem, Oregon. I am an undergraduate anthropology major and Spanish minor at Willamette University. I work as an assistant teacher at a bilingual elementary school and am piloting a new position as a library based Diverse Texts Outreach Intern. I am incessantly curious, and constantly inspired by the educators I work with; and I am always happy to discuss the successes and challenges of using diverse literature in the classroom!
I recently returned from a year abroad in Nicaragua and Belgium. I spent my weekends in Nicaragua volunteering on farms and learning about life as a pinolero. Thanks to the incredible patience of those I encountered along the way, I learned how to make the delectable Nicaraguan bebida de cacao, pick coffee beans (without ants crawling up your legs), become a sardine in a public bus, use anise as mosquito repellent, and understand “manoamanoamanoa” as my bus stop of Managua.
My time in Nicaragua served as a constant reminder of how privileged I was (and am) to be surrounded by books of all shapes and sizes. I grew up surrounded by books and am an avid reader in both English and Flemish. Growing up speaking Flemish in Washington State, I relied on books as a major cultural and linguistic connection to the far-away Flemish community. My childhood relationship with literature led to my passion of learning about the world through books.
In the past ten years, Salem’s Hispanic population has grown dramatically. Such demographic shifts are challenging schools to figure out how to best meet the needs of their diversifying student bodies. I am interested in both raising awareness about resources like Vamos a Leer here in Salem, and exploring how we might cultivate similar community connections through books.
My undergraduate research has focused on increasing the use of diverse children’s literature in local schools – and led me to Vamos a Leer – a community that I am excited to join from afar! I spent my summer working with another Willamette student to create a video that highlights the value of diverse literature, and provides some guidance in choosing diverse books for the classroom.
In my spare time I enjoy outdoor adventures, exploring new places (planned and un-planned), reading, artsy projects, practicing my Spanish and learning new words in any language. This fall I will be bringing you some author interviews, and I look forward to an exciting year discovering Latin American children’s literature with you all!