This term we launched our first Spanish Sweet Readers Program – everyone participated!! It started with Nerea, a high school junior and Young Leader who engaged her school to help us find a talented Hispanic Musician to help us build an authentic and engaging music based curriculum. Then Nerea translated our training and brought the curriculum to life for the students and facilitators. Next came the school De La Salle Academy students were in a hybrid schedule and pandemic learning, as we have all discovered, was quite challenged. The school, nonetheless, now in its 5th year with Sweet Readers, stepped up, engaged the entire World Languages Department and everyone, including the Principal, the Assistant Principal and their head of technology participated to ensure the connections would be meaningful for all. And when our local eldercare center became overwhelmed by technology, we were able to engage an AARP Purpose Prize Fellow who connected us with the Tejano Center in Houston – staff and leaders at the center pulled together so that isolated adults could be brought out of their rooms and given a safe and stimulating space and the technology to connect. The whole thing was breathtaking, heartwarming and full of joy!
Here’s what Wilson Martinez, our De La Salle Facilitator, had to say:
“All 15 students engaged with this pilot found surrogate grandparents which they longed for whether they had met their own or had never met their own biological “abuelos”.
In fact, 4 of my scholars have Mexocan cultural heritage so they took pride and built confidence based on the cultural exchanges with the Tejano Center senior citizens.
The songs we shared revealed good lyrics, iconic artists known by Tejano Center participants and dance movements like slow dance bolero, fast moving salsa or Tex.Mex sounds.
In sessions 5 & 6 all Tejano Center senior citizens danced on screen with us!
The visits to Tejno Center allowed both the seniors and youth to recall family memories and stories that my students will never forget. For example, the 80 year old grandpa with 38 great grandchildren.
If Art and Music can heal, we witnessed very HAPPY elders during the worst of the pandemic. ZOOM was a bridge for NY to visit Texas. Both states had severe Covid rates at some point in time.
The TPRS approach that the DLSA World Language department practices is founded on research that shows storytelling, story making and story sharing in target language create mental representations that trigger language acquisition and cultural appreciation within a real life context.”