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Department ofModern Languages and Literatures


Students at the SCU Climate and Environmental Justice conference

Students at the SCU Climate and Environmental Justice conference

Michelle Benavente ‘25 reflects on presenting a poster at the Climate and Environmental Justice Conference

Michelle Benavente '25 (Child Studies, Spanish Studies) presented the poster "Storytelling for Climate and Environmental Justice: Fostering Imagination and Action with Children's Literature," at the Climate and Environmental Justice Conference at SCU in April with Dr. Brita A. Bookser (Child Studies) and Katie Dalpino '25 (Psychology, Child Studies). This project examines the content and qualities of children's literature as a tool for social justice, imagination, advocacy, and action toward relationality, protection, and thriving in community. They presented alongside Mikaela Dacanay ’24 (Psychology, Child Studies) and Sofie Fernandez’s (Psychology, Child Studies) poster “Street-Level Climate Science: Decolonial Experiential Learning Opportunities for Young Children in Metropolitan Contexts,” which addresses the implementation of children’s literature and inclusion of children’s lives in relation to climate and environmental justice.

“As a Spanish Studies and Child Studies double major, I find joy in the moments when my interests overlap and I can use my knowledge from one area to broaden my understanding of the other. With the Department of Child Studies, I worked with Katie Dalpino ’25 and Dr. Brita Bookser to conduct a content analysis of the bilingual Spanish-English children’s book, I Am Sausal Creek/Soy el Arroyo Sausal, written by Melissa Reyes, illustrated by Robert Trujillo, and translated by Cinthya Muñoz. We then made a poster to present our findings at an Environmental Justice Conference at SCU in April. While creating the poster, I thought a lot about Dr. Laura Callahan’s course, Span 176: Spanish and Latinxs in the United States. It’s valuable to have written presences of Spanish in the US; this book in particular makes an important story accessible to more children, and it provides visibility to Spanish-speaking children who are a part of communities near Sausal Creek in Oakland. Additionally, I reflect on the benefits of introducing English-speaking children to a second language at an early age. Over the summer, I plan to work in an early-childhood education setting, and I want to share this book with the kids. I love learning Spanish, and the prospect of sharing that love with children is really exciting!”


student story

Image L-R: Mikaela Dacanay, Sofie Fernandez, Michelle Benavente, Katie Dalpino, Brita A. Bookser.