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Linfield Latino volunteers bridge the community cultural divide

Linfield’s student group, Latinos Adelante, is making the case for equitable college access, and putting their actions where their words are.

The Latino volunteer group is working in collaboration with McMinnville High School to bridge the communication gap between the high school and parents in the school’s English Language Development program. In a series of meetings at the high school, Linfield students are talking about the value of a high school education, and advocating for college.

“Visiting an institution many of the parents never mastered themselves can be intimidating,” Crystal Galarza ’13 says. “Add to this a cultural and language barrier, and you can see why there is a lack of parent participation in their children’s education. Knowing we can help them overcome these barriers is truly empowering.”

“I know my parents had the same questions and concerns that most of these parents have, so it’s a great opportunity to help those who are in a similar circumstance,” says Maria Sandoval-Perez ’11 (pictured). “We all know that we are helping people like our parents.”

Opening the dialogue between parents and the high school can be a delicate process, requiring patience. “During the first two meetings, we only had about three families attend,” Sandoval-Perez says. “However, the last meeting was amazing. The entire cafeteria was full.”

The importance of family within the Latino community makes parental involvement crucial to the students’ academic success. Understanding the need, Linfield’s volunteers made 200 personal phone calls to remind parents of the event, attended meetings, and served as translators for the 150 participants. They helped parents understand graduation requirements and important academic documents, such as report cards and transcripts.

“These students are energetic and passionate about helping us bridge the communication gap that so often occurs between schools and parents of English language learners,” says Brian Crain, assistant principal of curriculum at the school. “As a non-Spanish speaker, I am truly dependent upon their assistance. The last meeting was incredibly powerful, with the largest turnout of English Language Development families in the school’s history.”

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