OAKLAND, California – At Oakland International High School, about a dozen immigrant female students shared their thoughts, issues and experiences in their native Spanish last week.
They are part of the school’s Latina Club.
“We learn things from each other. It helps me see who I am because we share things that we love about identity,” said Yosili Mendoza, a senior from Guatemala.
Mendoza arrived in the United States three years ago.
“I was new, I didn’t know anyone. I wanted to make friends and feel comfortable. Everything was new to me,” she said,
Everything, including English.
“English is the first problem for everyone. Then everything is easy. This is the main challenge I have here,” said Fernanda Ramirez, who immigrated from Peru.
Students say the Latina Club is a place where young women from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Peru share the same nervousness, frustrations, and fear.
“I feel very safe and how to express myself more. I like to be more comfortable with me, with me,” said Pamela Juarez, who has moved from Guatemala.
The Latina Club was founded and is run by geometry teacher Tracy Narciso.
“Sometimes when they get here their parents may be back home. So they may not have their parents here. They may need help talking to someone and they find that at the Latina Club,” she declared.
The club meets regularly for lunch or after school. But it’s not all about problems. They go on field trips and get involved in arts and crafts projects.
Along the way, many say they start to feel more comfortable as they navigate a new world together.
“I won’t be here forever and I want these girls to continue this club and give back to the community, and to the other young girls who will continue to come to this school,” Narcisco said.
The Latina Club has started a Gofundme to raise funds for supplies and field trips. The link is below,