Summer Centered: Lev Greenstein '20 Teaches in Two Languages
The anthropology major with a minor in Spanish is teaching a bilingual curriculum to Philadelphia children as a tutor for Puentes de Salud.
Lev Greenstein ’20 is spending his summer learning how to teach. As a Center for Peace and Global Citizenship-sponsored tutor for Puentes de Salud’s Summer Literacy Program, the anthropology major is taking a progressive approach to education.
The Philadelphia organization’s summer-long camp specializes in educating children who speak both Spanish and English. The program encourages its participants to concurrently develop their proficiency in both languages. As a teacher for incoming third and fourth graders at the camp, Greenstein co-teaches lessons that facilitate the bilingual literacy of his students, among other activities.
“[We] try to build up confidence in reading and writing, problem solving, agency and activism, and generally in the self for each child,” he said. “The overall curriculum for the four weeks we spend together is Arte y Cultura, Migración, Animales, and Superheroes.”
Puentes de Salud’s mission extends beyond the classroom. The South Philly nonprofit, co-founded by Steve Larson ’83, offers health care, community building, and other wellness programs in collaboration with the city’s growing Latinx immigrant population.
A spring 2018 course, “Spanish in the US: Language, Identity, and Politics” taught by Associate Professor Ana López-Sánchez, as well as courses Greenstein has taken for his psychology minor have informed his ability to lead bilingual lessons for his students at Puentes de Salud.
“The importance of giving Spanish and English equal relevance in the classroom relate to the emphasis my ‘Spanish in the U.S.’ class put on what methods of bilingual instruction actually benefited students the most,” he said.
Greenstein’s coursework for his Peace, Justice, and Human Rights concentration, specifically Visiting Assistant Professor Anne Balay’s class “Oral History and Activism,” also inspired his work, offering him an academic perspective on the community outreach aspects of his summer internship.
“The Puentes summer program is blessed with an incredible tutor-to-student ratio because of an enthusiastic team of volunteers, and that makes the personal interactions and moments of progress in the classroom all the more meaningful as they come with a sense of community,” he said.
For Greenstein, the advantages of his job stretch far beyond its melding of his academic interests. Being able to establish lasting relationships with his students is even more enlivening.
“Working with kids brings light into any day, and getting to add that into my summer has been a gift,” he said. “It just felt like a really grounded way to continue on my path of learning about what intentional community looks like and being a part of the collaboration that makes it so strong.”
Following this summer, the rewards Greenstein has received from teaching and engaging with a local community have opened the possibility of pursuing a path in education eventually.
“This work has inspired me to consider my role as an educator more seriously, in whatever form that might take,” he said. “And it has also made clear to me that I want to work with communities directly.”
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ Center-funded summer work.