A Buckeye Career Center senior is using her experiences in working with the local Hispanic population to educate others.
Senior Early Childhood Education student Sarah Smith, from Dover, is offering presentations to local groups and community members regarding the topic. She explained that she hopes to help Tuscarawas County residents feel informed, while also helping members of the Latino population feel accepted. “I just want to be their advocate,” said Smith.
Smith serves as president of Camp Imagine If, an after-school tutoring program for English as a Second Language students. The camp typically runs every Thursday after school at the Dover Alliance Church with 50-60 Spanish speaking students attending to receive help with their homework and learning the English language.
Smith is so dedicated to busting the stigma, she chose this topic as her 2018 Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) project.
To begin, Smith surveyed her coworkers at a local coffee shop to gauge their thoughts on the Latino community. She explained that she realized that many of her co-workers were ill-informed or had negative perceptions towards Latinos. She is now sharing her knowledge that she has learned from her time with Camp Imagine If, with various groups in the form of a presentation.
Following the presentation, Smith provides the attendees with a follow-up survey to find out if she was able to influence the minds of those she presented to. “I hope to educate them on who they (Latinos) are and be a representative for them that speaks English,” said Smith. She added that she also wants to help relieve some of the tension that might exist. “I want Tuscarawas County to know where they (Latinos) came from and what they came here to do. They just want to help their families. I know some people understand that, but some don’t.”
Smith is encouraging all local residents to lend a helping hand or just say hello to someone from a different culture. “Just learning a sentence or two in their language means so much to them. Taking an interest in their culture really brings out their personalities,” said Smith.
Smith so far has presented to two of her Buckeye Career Center classes and also has plans to present to other groups that are interested in learning more about the Spanish-speaking community in our area. Following graduation in May, Smith wants to use her life experiences as she continues her education to become certified to teach ESL students. For more information or to contact Smith for a possible presentation to your group or business, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.