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Miami students engaged in Hamilton's Hispanic community

12/13/2007

Miami University students are working in Hamilton's Hispanic community, part of a Harry T. Wilks Leadership Institute "Think Tank": Thinking Globally, Acting Locally. Known as Wilks Scholars, the students committed to a two-year curricular and community-based program; this is its second year.

Faculty involved are Shelly Jarrett Bromberg (Spanish and Portugues, Latin American studies, Miami Hamilton) and Sheila Croucher, Rejai Professor of Political Science (American studies).

Students are working in two areas: with community partners on a language and cultural exchange and to develop a Hispanic business association. The business group is based at the Taqueria Mercado, 6503 Dixie Highway.

Miami junior Kevin McLaughlin said the association will allow Latino business owners to come together, discuss issues and help each other out. "We hope they'll gain a way to have a voice in the wider community, to unify the community so they can be heard and so they can pool their resources a lot better," he added.

The language and cultural exchange students meet community members for classes in three different locations. "It's truly an exchange," said Croucher. "The students learn as much from their partners as the partners learn from the students."

"Students focus on helping their community partners increase their language skills through a variety of methods," said Jarrett Bromberg. "In exchange, the students learn about the experiences and cultures of their community partners. Everyone is a teacher."

Wilks scholars working in Hamilton, in addition to McLaughlin, include: Christine Bruns, Greg Claus, Courtney Elsen, Michael Humenansky, Frank Keeling, Jessica Reading, Chris Scott, Angela VanHorn and Jamie Viars.

Wilks scholars are involved in other areas of the region as well. Those working in Cincinnati's Over the Rhine neighborhood and with Butler County farmers on sustainable agriculture efforts include: Whitney Barth, Katherine Croft, Joshua Dahn, Lisa Dayringer, Erin Donia, Heather Hillenbrand, Allan Michael Lanton, Benjamin Menjer, John Obrycki, Marisa Rendina, Amy Weber, Thomas Whalen and Jennifer Woolum.

Additional faculty involved are Mary Frederickson (history), Thomas Klak (geography), Peggy Shaffer (American studies), and Charles Stevens (America studies/international studies).

Nicholas Longo is director of the Wilks Institute, established at Miami in 2002 with a $5 million gift from retired Hamilton attorney and businessman Harry T. Wilks.

For more information, visit www.units.muohio.edu/saf/wilks/index.php.

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