Latina Club fosters pride and security for immigrant students at Oakland International High School
OAKLAND, Calif. - At Oakland International High School, about a dozen female immigrant students were sharing their thoughts, problems, and experiences in their native Spanish this past week.
They are part of the school's Latina Club.
"We learn things from each other. That helps me to see who I am because we share things to like about identity," said Yosili Mendoza, a senior from Guatemala.
Mendoza came to the U.S. three years ago.
"I was new I didn't know anyone. I wanted to make some friends and feel comfortable. Everything was new to me," she said,
Everything, including English.
"English is the first problem for everybody. Then everything is easy. That's the main challenge I have here," said Fernanda Ramirez who immigrated from Peru.
The students say the Latina Club is a place where young women from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Peru are sharing the same jitters, frustrations, and fear
"I feel very safe and how to express more. Like to be more comfortable with me, with me," said Pamela Juarez who moved from Guatemala.
The Latina Club was founded and is lead by geometry teacher Tracy Narciso.
"Sometimes when they arrive here their parents may be back home. So they may not have their parents here. They may need support to talk to someone and they find that at the Latina Club," she said.
The club meets regularly at lunch or after school. But it's not all about problems. They take field trips and involve themselves in arts and crafts projects.
Along the way many say they begin to feel more at ease 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 the other young girls who will continue to come into this school," said Narcisco.
The Latina Club has started a Gofundme to raise money for supplies and field trips. The link is below,