SIOUX CITY, Iowa — With books about Winnie the Pooh and Puss in Boots in her lap, Maria Rodriguez is handed a bilingual version of “The Little Red Hen” or “La Gallinita Roja,” and “Jack and the Beanstalk” or “Juan y los Frijoles Magicos.”
Spanish is her first language. She didn’t learn English until she was in school, around the age of 5.
“...It's not just volunteering ... It's a way to connect the classroom experience with outside work.”
— Alicia Harper, service and leadership coordinator
Volunteering at Mary Elizabeth Child Care Center & Preschool, the bilingual freshman at Briar Cliff University is asked to make recordings of her reading these books in both languages so Spanish-speaking children can listen to the stories.
Rodriguez was one of about 200 students volunteering 2,000 hours across more than 20 agencies in a weeklong initiative called Serve Without Boundaries, which Briar Cliff started last year as part of a required one-credit course for all freshmen.
“Something that’s special about this is that it’s not just volunteering,” said Alicia Harper, service and leadership coordinator at Briar Cliff. “It’s a way for them to connect the classroom experience with outside work.”
Throughout the week, they volunteered at local organizations including Opportunities Unlimited, GiGi’s Playhouse, the Siouxland Humane Society and the June E. Nylen Cancer Center.
Tyler Krajewski, a freshman at Briar Cliff studying business administration, grabbed a couple boxes of books featuring the whimsical tales of Dr. Seuss and Walt Disney:
“It’s nice to see we can make a difference in just the little things like sorting out books,” he said.