(Posted November 15, 2017)

Huntingdon, Pa. – Juniata College has been awarded the Global Engagement Initiative Award for their Spanish and Service Learning in Guatemala immersion program from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). The creator of the immersion program, Henry Thurston-Griswold, professor of Spanish at Juniata, will accept the award on behalf of Juniata College on Friday, Nov. 17 at ACTFL’s Annual Convention & World Languages Expo in Nashville, Tenn.

The ACTFL Global Engagement Initiative recognizes community-engaged learning experiences within the world languages curriculum at all levels of instruction.

“I created the program to maximize student learning, engagement and exposure to the diversity of cultures in the Spanish-speaking world,” Thurston-Griswold says. “Proficiency in Spanish opens a window to rich cultures and provides students with another set of lenses through which they can better process, understand and appreciate the vitality and relevance of all things Hispanic.”

The Guatemala project combines individualized Spanish instruction and a service-learning project that students design in the city of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. First offered by Juniata in 2002, the course is now an interdisciplinary, fully immersive class designed for Juniata students as well as students enrolled in member colleges of the Pennsylvania Consortium for the Liberal Arts. Consortium members include Bryn Mawr, Dickinson, Franklin & Marshall, Gettysburg, Haverford, Juniata, Lafayette, Muhlenberg, Swarthmore, Ursinus and Washington and Jefferson colleges.

“The trip is extremely hands-on and is one of the first times students can apply their studies, outside of the classroom, to their future career goals,” says Megan Moroney, a senior at the college who participated in the program. “It enables you to sharpen your skills, gain knowledge and deepen your understanding and appreciation of the rich and diverse culture of a country that continues to suffer economic and social injustice.”

Juniata’s Guatemala program enables students to provide transformative and empowering education to students at the Asturias Academy, a private, nonprofit school that serves children from the country’s poor majority who often lack access to quality education. Both these students and the Juniata undergraduates benefit from the engagement.

“This experience truly engages students with the world, a hallmark of a Juniata education,” says Lauren Bowen, Juniata’s Provost. “In addition to strengthening language proficiency and becoming more culturally competent, Juniata students also provide meaningful service in partnership with a local community and, in so doing, make a difference.”

Approximately half of Juniata students study abroad, and all students whose Programs of Emphasis focus on world languages and cultures study abroad. The Guatemala trip is only one option for international study; Juniata offers 47 study abroad programs that include study on every continent except Antartica.

For more information about Juniata’s world languages and cultures programs, visit juniata.edu/wlc; to learn about the College’s study abroad programs, visit juniata.edu/international.


– Written by Anna Kauffman ’19 – 

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.