Facilitating Connection

Facilitating Connection

By Natalie Becker

Beginning this fall semester, the foreign language department will be offering a new, honors Spanish class taught by Professor Jan Emberson. This class, Spanish for Healthcare Professions, fills a great need for the ACC community. This class has been specifically designed to give these medical students the vocabulary that they will need in order to communicate with Spanish-speaking patients in their native language.

Image by Dreux Carpenter
“It’s a fairly intimate relationship between medical professionals and their patients, and anything that can help make that connection deeper is worthwhile. That is one of the really lovely things about learning a second language. You get to know people on a different level than you would have otherwise. And, when it comes to medical services, being able to have your patient or client feel comfortable talking with you is a real plus for both practitioner and client What a wonderful service these ACC students can provide their patients with being able to speak directly to them in their native language, ” Emberson says.
Emberson fell in love with teaching when she was in graduate school for her masters and accepted the invitation to be a teacher’s assistant. Spanish linguistics has always been her specialty, and she is especially interested in the way that adults learn a second language; making her a perfect fit for the ACC community. When asked about her favorite part of the job, Emberson gushes about the teaching process both in constructing class materials and in the student/teacher relationship.
“I love that creative process of being with the students and being the facilitator. It’s so exciting to be able to be a part of their learning experience. I try to make the classroom as real as possible because it’s very important to me to give the students something that they can use outside the classroom. That’s why I’m so excited about the Spanish for Healthcare Professionals class in particular. It is an obvious applied purpose that is geared towards a certain use. To me, applied knowledge is what we’re after in the foreign language department. We want the students to be able to explore how they can use what they’re learning and why it is important to them,” she says.
Emberson is excited and enthusiastic about the development of this class and is creating her own original teaching materials; drawing from available text-sources as well as a variety of online media, like video clips, which she hopes to use to “bring the material off the page and make it come to life.”
She is especially focused on finding out what medical specialties her students are interested in and helping them formulate their own customized vocabulary so that they can get the most applicable knowledge from this class.
Spanish for Healthcare Professions has been extremely well received by the ACC community, filling up for the fall semester within the first weeks of July. Based on this reaction from students, Emberson predicts further growth in this area.
As she says, “because [the class] filled during the first part of July for the fall, other sections are being explored even now. There’s nothing definitive yet, but whatever the need is we are here to serve the students. If the students want it, I’ll do whatever I can to provide it.”

Transposing the Past into the Future

Transposing the Past into the Future

By Natalie Becker
The Arts & Humanities division of Austin Community College is engaging in a little summer experiment this August. Transpositions will bring together seven departments to create a full-length show reflecting the emotional and physical transition from the Rio Grande Campus to the college’s future at Highland Campus.
Director Anne Wharton draws inspiration for the format of the show from local artist Stephen Pruitt and his adventures with Catastrophe Theory Arts. Pruitt formulates his shows to incorporate many different kinds of performers, using casual transitions to create a friendly and informal atmosphere. Wharton wants to bring that spirit of collaboration to ACC. “The show is a way to come together and create a foundation for when we move to Highland and begin sharing a new space,” Wharton says.
The title of the show, Transpositions, comes from a contemplation of the themes of moving and change. “It’s the musical idea of moving a melody line up or down in pitch. You preserve the melody line, but it becomes something new. It’s a relocation that preserves the essence of the thing, similar to our transition to Highland. We’re relocating to a new space but preserving the essence of what it is that makes us the ACC dance department or the drama department,” Wharton says.
The seven departments involved in the show all bring a different perspective on the theme. “I want the show to create a opportunity for artists to explore the concept of change and move without giving strict guidelines. It’s not a straightforward commission – it’s a collaborative process. The show focuses on specific themes but leaves space for individual artists in their respective mediums to create and explore,” Wharton says.
Transpositions relies on multiple dance pieces to provide the main drive behind the show’s theme of move. Dance professor Melissa Watt will premiere new choreography set on the Dance Performance Workshop Class. And Dance Professor Ellen Bartel’s improvisation students will also be involved, creating a unique work that changes every time it is performed. Provenance, a dance film, will also premiere at the show. Dance Professor Catherine Solaas directed the film that brings together current and former ACC dance students in a physical exploration of the raw space at Highland Campus.
The Drama department will be presenting a scene from The Children’s Hour and a monologue from Our Town. The visual art department will be contributing an exhibition of sculptures based on movement from Art Professor TJ Hilton’s sculpture class.
The music department will be showcasing their Jazz Ensemble and Stage Ensemble during a full-hour set before the performances on Thursday and Friday evening. This hour of live music will give the audience time to peruse the lobby space, where sculptures will be joining exhibitions from photography, creative writing and game design.
Transpositions is more than an evening of entertainment and artistry; it’s the foundation for a new future for the audience-driven departments at ACC. “We want to help foster a culture of collaboration so that when we get to Highland, and are suddenly geographically close to each other for the first time, there are already connections in place. A dance student can go down the hall and find a music student to collaborate on a piece, or a video game designer can use a dancer for animation, and so on because they’re already met,” Wharton says.
“That is the goal of the showcase,” Wharton continues, “to bring people together, not just for this one performance in the summer but for a future of collaborations in the community.”
Transpositions is free and open to the public. The show is on the Rio Grande Mainstage Theater on Thursday and Friday, August 11 and 12. The live music will start at 7 pm each night followed by the show at 8 pm.