The enthusiastic and outspoken Latinitas at Ysleta Public Library in El Paso, TX have not only learned but demonstrated what it takes to be an empowering Latina teen. Their charismatic and witty personalities meant the room was always full of laughter and discussions on the lessons and of their personal lives. The meek and quiet Latina stereotype is long-gone in the girls minds, even the shyest girl broke out of her shell within a month or two. These girls did not lack confidence and their big hearts shone in everything that they did. Throughout the spring semester, the girls scripted and recorded their own Latinitas talk show and sounded off on what it meant to be a true friend. Other projects included writing their own song and making a music video, drawing a comic about their emotions, tapping into their fashionista skills by upcycling and designing outfits, and created a how-to video on how to draw a cat. The tutorial of drawing a cat was my favorite activity, mostly because the girls had their own director, artist, camera-WOMAN, speaker, and script writer for the video– they went above and beyond with the lesson. With minimal guidance, the girls worked together to create an awesome tutorial.
An unforgettable moment was the persistence and determination to raise money towards the Autism Community Network of El Paso as their Global Youth Service Day project. Even though the club meeting on Good Friday was cancelled, the girls begged to come in to work on the Autism poster PSAs and concession stand flyers.Unfortunately, terrible news hit the next meeting, when the city of El Paso did not grant us the permits to sell concessions. Smile on their faces and willingness to overcome this, the girls rallied together and decided to raise the donation on their own. I admire their dedication towards making a difference in the community. I am super proud of them because they raised a whopping $115!!! For the project, not only did they decorate a frame with an autism awareness portrait, they also raised money for a cause that is important to them.
What they learned cannot be measured on paper. They learned different media and writing skills, but their creativity and confidence grew with each lesson. I was their mentor, but I became their friend, someone they could rely on to talk about their friendship or family problems. As their mentor, their enthusiasm for Latinitas grew, but as their friend I saw a change in each and every one of them. They had more confidence to be themselves and speak their mind. Friendships grew within the club and the club acted as a mini-support group for anyone going through a hard time. The girls have inspired me to keep working with Latinitas and know my girls at Ysleta have a bright future ahead of them and are destined for bigger and better things in their lives.