UC Berkeley Awards


Chancellor Award for Public Service (2008)

One of the UC Berkeley awards that Amelia Barili received is the Chancellor’s Award for Public Service. She was distinguished with this honor in 2008 for the work her students and her do assisting the Latino Community.
Dr Amelia Barili RECEIVING CHANCELLOR'S AWARD for Public Service

In this picture she receives the award form the UC Berkeley Chancellor, Professor Robert Birgenau.

Later that month, prof. Barili was  profiled in this article from the UC Berkeley Letter Home. She speaks of the difference that Service Learning makes in students lives. “When they interact with refugees–says Barili–students see that their own troubles are not so bad”. Barili believes strongly that with the privilege of an education, comes the responsibility of sharing that knowledge beyond the boundaries of the campus. Many of her students are inspired by this way of teaching and learning and keep volunteering many years after that first experience in Barili’s class. Read their testimonies in  Students Volunteering Locally and Abroad.

 Barili profiled in Letter Home

Nominated for UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award (2009)

Because of her innovative undergraduate and older adult courses, and her work with the community,  prof. Amelia Barili was nominated for the UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award in 2009.

Chancellor’s Community Partnership Grant (2011)

In 2011, professor Amelia Barili, received the Chancellor’s Community Partnership Grant for her project “Spanish Grammar and Political Asylum.” That UC Berkeley award was granted to prof. Barili and to East Bay Sanctuary Covenant–with whom she had been partnering since 1999–to expand and deepen the capacity of the student volunteers and of EBSC to serve Latino immigrants and refugees.

The new and expanded program created with this grant included three major steps.

The first step was to hire a paralegal/staff attorney  to work with the Spanish 102A students, explaining the intricacies of the political asylum process, to better prepare them to assist the UCB Law School students as interpreters in political asylum cases and U-visa Cases. As result of this Chancellor’s Community Partnership Grant, the number of Spanish 102A students working with School of Law students in the pro-bono EBSC legal clinic augmented exponentially. From 1 student in 2010, to 10 Spanish students assisting as interpreters in 2012.  They assisted the EBSC team of law students in writing detailed declarations that included the clients’ personal background and the persecution they suffered in their home countries. They often followed the cases from the first “intake” all the way to interpreting for the clients at their interviews at the San Francisco Asylum Office.

The second step was to hire an undergraduate student, who had taken Spanish 102A before and volunteered at Santuario–as EBSC is familiarly called–, to coordinate between the Spanish students and the six busy EBSC staff members. With the assistance of Barili and the ESBC staff, the undergraduate coordinator developed a handout of instructions to guide new students on the various procedures at EBSC, from answering the phones and receiving clients who come with a wide range of legal assistance requests, to doing ‘intakes’, (‘intakes’ are the refugees stories for their political asylum processes). This part of the handbook was developed in collaboration between the student coordinator and the paralegal/staff attorney that we hired with the grant. The student coordinator also developed an effective system to maintain records, schedule and kept track of students hours for volunteering, produced instruction folders to easily guide students in their daily office tasks at East Bay Sanctuary.

The third step was to give greater visibility to this joint project between UC Berkeley and East Bay Sanctuary Covenant. To that effect interviews were filmed with members of this NGO and with students from Spanish 102A and prof. Barili.  They were integrated in a short documentary titled “Building Nurturing Communities: A Berkeley Story”, which was uploaded to Vimeo and You Tube. In that documentary students and community partners reflect on what is unique about this collaborative learning experience.

Barili developed this innovative pedagogy–which bridges the university and the community–as part of her Spanish 102A Advanced Grammar and Composition course. It is a win-win opportunity for everyone involved.


Educational benefit for the students involved

From a purely linguistic perspective, students have a real-world setting in which to practice their Spanish language skills. They speak and listen, face to face with Spanish speaking immigrants. They also have the more challenging experience of speaking and listening to immigrants on the telephone, which is much more difficult because there are no visual clues.

Even more important from a cultural and socially integrative point of view: they learn about the immigrant experience. Many students in the UCB course are themselves immigrants who came when very young or children of immigrants but do not know the great difficulties their families experienced in assimilating or in obtaining legal status in the United States. Clients at the East Bay Sanctuary are in the process of petitioning for legal status, petitioning for relatives, applying to adjust status to become Legal Permanent Residents, or applying for citizenship. In assisting clients with these legal applications, students will see how complicated these processes can be and understand the great difficulties their own families might have had. Often students comment that they had no idea of what their families went through.

In the new and expanded collaboration with UCB Law School students at the EBSC legal clinic, Spanish 102A students also learn about other cultures. Many of the clients they work with are indigenous (Mayan) Guatemalans. This is a unique opportunity to interact with the large Mayan population (near 5,000 of them) in the Bay Area, who themselves are learning Spanish. When acting as interpreters in U Visa program at EBSC, students also learn about the culture of violence against abused women and LGBTs that occurs throughout Latin American and the world.

Above all, students gain valuable life experience and develop a more caring attitude towards those in need. Most of the Sanctuary’s clients are barely literate at best and quite poor. Students interact with families who are struggling to get by economically and only beginning to learn how to access social services. They interpret for them filing out employment applications or applying for social services. They also interpret at medical/mental health appointments.

Being at a stone-thrown away distance from campus, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant introduces students to a very different Spanish-speaking world than the one they experience in the classroom. After reading “La Soledad de América Latina”, the 1982 Nobel Speech in which Gabriel García Márquez comments on different models of development and their impact in that continent, and having read the testimony of Guatemalan indigenous Nobel prize winner Rigoberta Menchu, students have the opportunity of meeting at Santuario, the actual people that had to run away from the violence these authors are writing about. This NGO has more Spanish-speaking asylum clients who have fled persecution in their home countries than any agency in the Bay Area. Students work with indigenous Guatemalans, victims of the latest genocide in the Americas, currently victims of a discrimination comparable to that suffered by African Americans in the American south after the Civil War. They also help with clients fleeing violence in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries

While volunteering at Santuario, students have also the unique opportunity to work with victims of domestic violence, often so severe that it amounts to torture, and learn that it occurs in all countries and that many countries refuse to protect women and children from their abusers. In other cases, students work with LGBTs who have suffered terrible persecution, often at the hands of law enforcement, simply because of their sexual orientation.

Perhaps most important of it all, students learn that they can make a difference and that they can use the knowledge and skills they are learning at UCB to actually respond to needs in the broader community. This inspires students to dedicate themselves to learn, and opens their hearts/minds towards contributing to create nurturing communities. Often they continue contributing to the Latino community locally and abroad, and in some cases create NGOs to help others. See the page Students Volunteer Locally and Abroad in this website


Benefit for the Community Partner

The Sanctuary has the largest affirmative asylum program in the Bay Area. In it law students in the California Asylum Representation Clinic (CARC) at Berkeley School of Law represent clients in the asylum process, under the supervision of the Sanctuary staff. The program is continuously expanding. Spanish 102A students in this new phase of our partnership, supported by the 2011 Chancellor’s Community Partnership Grant–worked as interpreters with a team of law students, assisting them in writing detailed declarations that include the clients’ personal background and the persecution they suffered in their home countries. They, then, translated for the clients at their interviews at the San Francisco Asylum Office. Spanish speaking clients are generally indigenous Guatemalans (Maya) who fled the most recent genocide in the Americas, victims of domestic violence and LGBTs who were persecuted on account of their sexual orientation. With the help of the Spanish 102A student volunteers acting as well informed interpreters–because of the training received with the paralegal–East Bay Sanctuary, was able to expand their services to the Latino immigrant population of the Bay Area.

Besides having the new opportunity of working in the above expanding programs, Spanish 102A students continued to perform general office duties including answering the telephones, interviewing drop-ins, assisting clients with applications for employment, petitions for family members, residency and citizenship, or simply talking and listening to clients. These duties are most of what Spanish 102A students have done up 2011. Barili and East Bay Sanctuary were able to enrich and broaden the students’ experience and serve more clients, in this new phase of their partnership, thanks to the support received by the 2011 Chancellor’s Partnership Grant.


In 1999, Barili began implementing this innovative pedagogy of integrating what is learned in the classroom with practice based knowledge acquired learning from/with the community. Since then, over 600 of her students have put nearly 10,000 hours volunteering at East Bay Sanctuary covenant and at bilingual schools in the Bay Area, assisting Latino children and un-accompanied minors from Center America.


Nominated for UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence (2015)

Because of  her strong contributions to UC Berkeley’s equity, inclusion and diversity work, Amelia Barili was nominated on September 2015 for Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence. 

Among the contributions cited in the nomination is the work she does with her undergraduate and older adult students helping them develop their voices and serve those most in need in the community through such courses as “Biographical and Autobiographical Writing: Telling the Stories of the Undocumented”; “Volunteering, Global Education and Good Writing”, “Engaging with Life: Volunteering and Neuroplasticity”; “Harnessing Wisdom and Compassion through Volunteering”; “Each One Helps One: Neuroplasticity in Action”.

She was also nominated for the CAAIC award for her dedication to expanding the creation of service learning courses, and supporting engaged scholarship–throughout campus and in collaboration with other universities–by initiating and implementing Faculty Learning Communities on Collaborative Service Learning (2013-14) and on “Volunteering and Global Education” (2015-16).

The UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence has traditionally been given only to Deans and tenured Faculty. That Barili was nominated for the award, being a lecturer, speaks highly of the appreciation for her work with students, colleagues and the Latino community locally and overseas.