2020 Barlow Travel Grant

Leah Clark Velez ’02

Personal Background

Leah Clark Velez ’02

The Bates Barlow Travel Grant offered me an incredible opportunity to exponentially build my pedagogical photo collection for my Spanish language classroom.

Over the course of two months, I took 3,203 pictures of daily life in Manizales, Colombia: restaurants, food, supermarkets, open-air markets, shopping centers, the exterior and interior of homes, businesses, street signs, municipal and public buildings, schools, universities, and so much more.

After almost a decade of piecing together a photo collection from my pre-digital and pre-instructional years, I now have a large catalog of pictures that correspond to the Georgia Performance Standards themes for Modern Languages, taken from a perspective that will meet my needs as a language instructor, that I have already begun to integrate into instructional units.

In the short term, I hope to present this project at the ACTFL 2022 Convention in Boston, MA, while in the medium term, I hope to create a student manual for my classroom, as well as slides and a manual that I can share with other teachers for use in their classrooms, or as inspiration for their own methods, teaching strategies, and projects.

Manizales, Colombia

Trip Report

My trip for the Bates Barlow Travel Grant has come to an end, but I feel the opportunities to develop and grow my idea are only beginning. I would like to visit more countries to take additional pictures so students may see the variations between Spanish-speaking countries. I have asked my Spanish-speaking students to take pictures, specifically of rural home interiors, plates of prepared food, and menus if they travel to Mexico or Guatemala.

Inspiration continues to grow from my trip this summer, and I am in the process of gathering pictures from friends in Spanish-speaking countries where I served as a Peace Corps volunteer, studied during my Junior Year Abroad at Bates, and studied as an AFS exchange student.

I hope to continue to develop contacts and professional relationships with educators in Colombia, where my family will inevitably return for a visit in the future, and look forward to eventual collaborations for language learning and instruction. As social media and technology continue to evolve and change, I will undoubtedly find new and interesting ways to engage students using my pictures across different platforms.

Reflections and Next Steps

I feel that not only did I accomplish a huge professional goal as an educator, but I wholeheartedly enjoyed the experience as a person who loves language learning. It is very important for my students to see that I enjoy what I teach, and I feel that completing this project energized me in a certain way.

I was again the adventurer that led me to language learning in the first place. Even though the grant has come to an end, my trip to Manizales was a seminal experience on which I may grow and expand for the rest of my career.