My name is Katalina, I was born in Michocan, Mexico. In the summer of 1995, at age 9, my parents brought me to the U.S. After walking for 5 hours I was in the United States. I suffered so much, not knowing why I was coming here. I was mad at my parents for that, but now I know that all they wanted was a better life for me. I’ve been denied of scholarship because of my legal status. I’ve been discriminated and overall my life has been a disaster. I don’t know what will happen after I graduate. My life is hard but I know I will make it through. I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow, but at least I know there’s a tomorrow.
Read more of Katalina’s story, as well as the history, hobbies, and goals of the other SSS students, in the slideshow below.
Press the PAUSE button on the slideshow below to click through and read the students’ introductions.
Spanish Speakers Serving
Headquartered in Utah but working throughout the western United States, a non-profit organization called Spanish Speakers Serving (SSS, pseudonym) has organized over the pas decade to empower Latino youth by providing cultural, service and leadership opportunities in a way that will allow these students to build their resumes and hopefully attend and then graduate from university. The class is an application-based class. Students must be bilingual (Spanish and English), must maintain a certain grade point average, and must be actively involved in at least one extracurricular activity. Current students interview prospective students. All applications are reviewed by the SSS teacher, currently Mrs. James, and finally approved by school administrators. SSS consists of classes in schools all over Utah, Idaho, and states, taught by a full-time teacher/educator at a middle/junior or high school. As part of these classes, Latino/a students are trained to tutor elementary students in reading and math. SSS students also act as peer mentors and tutors in their own schools, offering their services to any teacher or student who may need help. Many SSS students also serve as translators in parent-teacher conferences. Because each SSS student is required to be bilingual in Spanish and English, these services are particularly helpful in areas where there is a large population of Latino families but a low percentage of Latino schoolteachers and administrators.
Atkinville and Atkinville High School
Spanish Speakers Serving (SSS) has recently expanded to working in two areas in Idaho that are relatively more densely populated with Latino youth than other areas in Idaho. One of these areas is a small, rural town called Atkinville. The 2010 census shows approximately 11,000 people living in the town, with Latinos making up about one-third of those. There is one high school in Atkinville, Atkinville High School (AHS). AHS has approximately one thousand students in attendance every year, grades 9 through 12. Although no statistical data has been found, anecdotal evidence gathered from several interviews with students, teachers, and administrators suggest Latinos make up about half of the student population at AHS. As far as I know there are two teachers and one administrator at the school who identify as Latino/a. Farming and agriculture have dominated the economy of Atkinville since its founding in 1919. Large dairies have been built in and around Atkinville so that that industry is highly dominant now. Many students at AHS have family members who are somehow involved with the dairy industry. SSS students, many of whom are considered “undocumented” because they came to the United States without legal documentation as children, often have family members who work long hours at these dairies. Some SSS students also work at these dairies.