Navigating high school can be a challenge and doing that while learning English can be an even more daunting task. Students at Gallatin High School got the chance to ask questions about navigating school with fellow peers.
A couple of months ago, I introduced you to Samantha Suazo, a student at Lone Peak High School who created a Spanish newspaper intended for the Spanish-speaking community of Gallatin County and all of Montana.
Now she's a freshman at Yale and back in Bozeman at Gallatin High School talking with students about her shared experience going through the education system. She hopes to instill that same passion in the students.
“By telling lots of people about my story, about my success, about my struggles about the experiences that I've had that have taught me about the person that I am today,” says Suazo.
Many of the students listened closely as she spoke in Spanish and asked her questions about going to college.
“I know that these kids aren't by themselves, that they have each other you know to lay on that they have a choice to cry on,” says Suazo.
For many of these students English, Montana, and the United States is new to them. Navigating a new home and school can sometimes prove difficult with an added language barrier.
“Knowing more about the English language, knowing more about what it means to be Montanan knowing more about what it means to be a resident of the United States,” says Suazo.
Suazo was the first to speak to the students. She recently graduated from Lone Peak High School where she was the first Spanish speaker and immigrant. She came back to talk with students at Gallatin who also happen to be in her shoes as the first in their families to come to move their education forward in a new county.
“Everybody kind of knows about Samantha in the community and I just immediately knew she was amazing. She's brilliant,” says Evelyn Paz- Solis, Bozeman Schools’ Multilingual English Coordinator.
Paz is a multilingual language coordinator at the Bozeman School District. She began this weekly chat to help students who speak English as a second language navigate high school and their potential future after graduation.
“I went to school here, there was zero representation and it just because of the relational hadn't grown,” says Paz- Solis.
Paz-Solis went through the district herself and created this as a way to help students and teachers navigate the growing pains that come with being an English learner.
“I know exactly what they're going through what they're missing, and I even hold space for teachers who are trying really hard, but they don't have the tools,” says Paz- Solis.
As she spoke to students in Spanish, Suazo says she always leaves a piece of herself in everything she does.
“I'm grateful for them being here because it makes me feel as if Montana is changing, and it's changing towards a bright path,” says Suazo.