“My name is Ana Lopez. I attend Fort Vancouver High School. I would like to study hospitality and tourism.”

“My name is Escarlet Pelayo. I attend Fort Vancouver High School. I want to be a dentist.”

“My name is Yuri Ramos. I attend Fort Vancouver High School. I want to be a nurse.”

Fort Vancouver High School, Center for International Studies

From left: Fort senior Ana Lopez, League of United Latin American Citizens President Diana Perez, senior Escarlet Pelayo, mentor Louisa Cruz and senior Yuri Mendoza Ramos discuss the students’ translation work.

In our schools, it’s not unusual to hear Spanish or one of the 75 other languages spoken by our students. More than 20 percent of VPS families communicate at home in a language besides English.

Over the past decade, our district has become increasingly diverse and schools have embraced the change. For example, Fort Vancouver High School launched its Center for International Studies this fall. The entire school has adopted an international focus.

Students at Fort are learning to become globally competent. They’re learning how to see connections between the school and community, develop values that honor all people, lead and communicate effectively.

Adelante is just one example of what that looks like. The name of this school club, which is affiliated with the League of United Latin American Citizens, means “forward” in Spanish. Its members are looking ahead to their futures and leading by example by connecting with the community.

fort vancouver high school

Cindy Sanchez Barbosa also helped translate the promotional video for The Vine.

Recently, two Adelante projects brought new opportunities to do that. The students you heard earlier, along with some of their classmates, used their bilingual talents to translate candidate statements from the November 2015 general election voters’ pamphlet.

They also helped C-TRAN with its multicultural outreach for The Vine, a new transit line connecting downtown Vancouver to the Westfield Vancouver Mall. That included a promotional video.

Taking concepts like transportation and elections and interpreting between languages isn’t easy.

Escarlet explains:

“When you translate something exactly into Spanish, it won’t sound right. You have to transition words and add words.”

Yuri adds:

“I had to find a way to make it sound really easy for them to understand.”

But it was worth it, says Escarlet:

“It gives us students a chance to use our voices and to show that we can help the community as well.”

And Fort is a great place to do the kind of work that brings together cultures. Ana says:

“I like how much diversity is here. You walk the halls and you hear people talk different languages.”

I’m glad to see students and schools expanding our notions of community and showing us how much connection really is possible. These connections help us thrive.

Our students are also learning future-ready skills that will enable them to thrive in an increasingly interdependent economy and world.

Speaking of thriving, I hope you take some time over the winter break to relax and recharge with family and friends. You deserve it!

Happy holidays and take care,

Image: Steve's signature