The WWPS Bilingual Education Department recently sponsored 64 middle school students from both Garrison and Pioneer to attend ¡La Chispa! in Selah, WA. ¡La Chispa! (The Spark) is a workshop that helps bilingual students build their self-confidence, strengthen their cultural identity, and increase their academic success. This event was presented entirely in both Spanish and English. At this workshop, students participated in team building focused on the importance of communication, having a positive support system, and sharing a voice to create change.
“The students were also asked to reflect on their family’s education and their inspirations,” said Latino Outreach Coordinator Marilyn Melgoza. “Many of the students shared how their parents were forced to drop out of middle school or high school in order to provide for their families financially.”
Melgoza says the students shared how these stories inspire them to continue their education so one day they are able to provide for their own parents and families. She said one student shared how he recognized the importance of being bilingual and how he shouldn’t be ashamed of knowing another language. Another student shared how she had learned the significance of having a voice and utilizing it to help her community, according to Melgoza.
“¡La Chispa! continuously emphasized the importance of being bilingual and celebrating your heritage,” said Melgoza. “Throughout the day I witnessed our students establishing solidarity with their peers and our staff that attended. This is a very critical piece when it comes to Latino success because our culture is highly dependent on building relationships and having a strong support group – it was evident that these connections were occurring at ¡La Chispa!”