Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Campaign By Middlebury College Spanish Majors Aims To Challenge Racial Stereotypes

A sign outside of Middlebury College
Wilson Ring
Associated Press File
A senior seminar at Middlebury College called "Spanish In The US" had students conduct research and create materials to educate others about myths surrounding Spanish speakers and Lantinx people.

Students enrolled in Middlebury College's "Spanish In The US" senior seminar last fall were handed a syllabus that tasked them with two main goals: researching extensive empirical data and using their new knowledge outside the classroom walls to combat racial stereotypes.

According to Middlebury professor Brandon Baird, who taught the seminar, the goal of the class research project was to better arm students to go beyond their college studies and promote community outreach.

"One of the main reasons behind this class is: What does their Spanish education mean for them after graduation?" Baird said. "How are they going to take this education beyond the classroom?"

After the students completed extensive research focused on Latinx populations and Spanish speakers in Vermont and the country, the class honed in on several myths and tropes often used to disparage them.

To then help dispel those misconceptions, the students used the data to create informational posters which they hung up on campus and in the Middlebury community. They also used the data they gathered to write and record public service announcements, which aired on the campus radio station.

Maren Walsh, a Spanish major who completed the seminar, said the challenge lay in crafting just the right message that would have impact when seen or heard by others.

"It was interesting to a lot of us students that even though we study Spanish and we're trying to pay attention as much as we can, there are a lot of things that we didn't know," Walsh said.

Baird said since the course's completion, several students have discussed continuing their work and making their individual research projects from the class accessible to those in Addison County.

Listen above to an extended conversation with Baird and Walsh.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
Latest Stories