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UD, Marianist publisher team up to produce educational materials

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

By David Eck

DAYTON DEANERY — Most college internships give students practical experience in their chosen field, but a recent experience in Mexico City allowed University of Dayton junior Ben Girmann to use the skills from both of his majors, visual communications and Spanish.

Girmann spent seven weeks this summer working alongside artists and designers at Groupo SM, one of the largest international publishers of educational materials in the Spanish-speaking world. He worked a regular daily schedule creating spot illustrations for books and illustrating storylines. The materials will be used in classrooms in several countries, including Brazil, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The English-language books are intended for students in the fourth and fifth grades.

Fluency in Spanish enabled Girmann to function in the Mexican work environment.

“Being able to work alongside professional designers and combining English and Spanish is a unique opportunity for a visual artist. This is just a perfect way to bring together my interests in art and design with Spanish,” Girmann said. “That was my first time really being exposed and immersed in another culture. It gave me a greater appreciation and understanding for Latin American culture in general.”

Outside of work, Girmann, a member of Incarnation Parish in Centerville, experienced the Mexican culture and went on excursions to costal regions like Acapulco and Veracruz. He also visited various parts of Mexico City.

Scott Endress, an accounting and Spanish major from Akron, also did an internship in Grupo’s Mexico City offices, helping with financial policies and procedures and working on developing an international finance strategy as Grupo deals with currencies and exchange rates from multiple countries.
Internship opportunities are among the benefits of a collaboration between Grupo SM and UD, which are two of the largest Marianist organizations in the world. The collaboration produces English-language textbooks for Spanish-speaking students who are learning English. Products carry the University of Dayton Publishing brand.

Grupo SM, based in Madrid, designs and produces the books, while UD leverages its experience in education to adapt the materials for the curriculum in which they are used. UD also acts as a resource for Grupo SM. The files to create the products are digital so they can be created in Mexico City and modified by personnel throughout the world.

“By combining Grupo SM’s considerable editorial experience and strong business presence with the University of Dayton’s academic excellence and research capabilities, we will be able to further develop materials and training for English as second language teachers,” said Steve Marban, director of UD Publishing.

The collaboration grew out of Grupo’s desire to enter the growing English teaching market. They sought out UD’s educational resources, explained Amy Anderson, director of UD’s Center for International Programs. The university was also interested in the unique opportunities for UD students and faculty produced by the collaboration.

“It’s a strategic alliance of sorts but in a very specific way because we both have this Marianist family connection. That ultimately drives our collaboration,” Anderson said. “We’re leveraging both of our areas of expertise so both institutions get knowledge out of it but can [also] contribute.”

The collaboration has given UD additional insight into the needs of non-native speakers and sensitivity to their educational needs, Anderson said. Another benefit is increased recognition of UD in other parts of the world.

“The partnership is a way to extend awareness of the University of Dayton name into Latin American through the rapidly growing marking for high quality English-language learning materials,” Anderson said. “Thousands of school children will be learning English through books and materials associated with the University of Dayton.”

UD Publishing may also begin producing materials for teacher training, Anderson said.
Grupo SM has about 1,600 employees worldwide and is known for its children’s and teen literature.

“They’re a major player in the publishing world in Latin America,” Anderson said. “They want to recognize and encourage writers to write for this age group. They view books as a mechanism to develop people in Latin America and society in general.”

David Eck can be reached at [email protected].

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