Students from Kenyon, Columbia Elementary unite for “Borders in Play” project

GAMBIER, Ohio — Kenyon College students, in collaboration with fifth-grade students from Columbia Elementary School in Mount Vernon, will give a public presentation of their joint work exploring the concept of borders through children’s literature. The presentation, titled “Borders in Play,” will be held Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 9:30 a.m. in the Gund Ballroom in Kenyon’s Gund Commons, 101 E. Brooklyn St.

For the past two months, Kenyon students in Professor of Spanish Clara Román-Odio’s class “Cultural Productions of the Borderlands” have collaborated with the fifth-grade students to study how borders are portrayed in children’s literature. The students examined literature ranging from science fiction to Latino/a short story to poetry, with each selection exploring borderlands and how they relate to topics such as bullying, social differences, bilingualism, ostracizing and marginalization. Groups of the fifth-grade students, led by Kenyon students, studied this literature through the analysis of plot, setting, character, language use and symbols to understand how these created a border experience.

“‘Borders in Play’ is a significant community-engaged learning project that engages 45 elementary school children with Kenyon students seeking to connect an academic disciplinary theme, borderland theories, to a real-life context,” Román-Odio said. “The children were exposed to memorable stories and poems, practiced skills that support literacy, and gained role models and friends. Kenyon students were able to frame the issues of poverty, marginalization and borders from multiple perspectives and contexts and to document the role they can play in improving local civic life.”

Students also will present their work in an event at Columbia Elementary School on Tuesday, Nov. 7.