In September, Centro Hispano began working with Fulton High School ESL teachers to develop the Latino Student Leadership Program. This program works with Latino ELL students to provide them with workshops and opportunities to keep them engaged at the high school level and preparing them for post-secondary educational and career options.
As an introduction to the program, Rossy Toldedo, a senior lecturer at the University of Tennessee, worked with the high school students over five sessions to write stories of their own lives and identities. Ms. Toledo shared some of her own writing as well as pieces by Latino writers and previous participants in her workshops. Students first painted cardboard pieces that will become the covers for their books, and then spent time writing while guided by Ms. Toledo. The stories are then edited and compiled, and each student will take home a “published” book that they can share with family and friends.
Meet Lucina Diego, who joined the Centro Hispano staff as an intern in July. Luci is Guatemalan-American. She was born in Colorado, but has lived in Knoxville since elementary school. She is a graduate of Fulton High School and recently completed a certificate in Medical Information Technology from the Tennessee College of Applied Technology. Currently, she resides in Knoxville with her family, including her 6-month-old daughter Elizabeth.
Luci works primarily with the students at Fulton High School and with the Latino Student Success Coalition, but has also begun working as a tutor and family liaison with Centro’s afterschool programs at Lonsdale and Norwood elementary schools. With her bilingual and bicultural background and her warm personality, Luci is a big hit with the kids, and we love having her as part of the Centro family!
On Saturday, August 26th, Centro Hispano hosted our annual Latino Awards Gala Fundraiser. This year’s event was held at the Mill and Mine Venue, and nearly 400 tickets were sold! This Gala is a chance to recognize the hard work of individuals and organizations working to better conditions for the Latino Community, while raising funds to support Centro Hispano’s services.
This year’s award winners were: Angelina Pedro, community organizer from the Lonsdale community; Meghan Conley, Asst. Professor of Sociology at UTK and co-founder of Allies for Knoxville’s International Neighbors (AKIN); and Lonsdale Community School. Guests were treated to a buffet of authentic Mexican specialties, margaritas, mojitos and Mexican candies while enjoying performances of Latin jazz, Mexican salsa dancing, and Argentine tango.
We are thrilled to announce that between sponsorships, ticket sales, and silent auction, the event surpassed our fundraising goal. We would like to take this opportunity to once again recognize the support of presenting sponsor, Pilot Flying J, and silver sponsors BlueCross BlueShield of TN, and BB&T Bank, as well as the months of hard work devoted by the Latino Awards Committee: including Claudia Caballero, Jacquelinne Padilla, Shawn Conklin, Amanda Jenkins, and Andre Terry. And thanks of course to everyone who volunteered or bought tickets in order to make this event such a success!
Centro Hispano’s Women’s Wellness Group has been going strong now for nearly half a year. We have a great group of women that meet around two times a month for workshops on educational topics, to share a meal, and to support each other.
This Spring the women from Centro’s Women’s Wellness Group participated in an exchange of culture, food, and friendship with women from the Turkish Cultural Center. First, several women from the Turkish Cultural Center brought food to Centro hispano to show our group how to cook a traditional meal. Then, a month later, women from Centro Hispano visited the Turkish Center and brought a few Latin American dishes to share.
The Women’s Wellness Group at Centro Hispano continues to meet several times a month. If you are interested in sponsoring a lunch or if your organization would like to present a workshop please contact Claudia Caballero at email@example.com.
In June, Centro Hispano hosted the Knoxville Spanish Roundtable group. Community members gathered to enjoy light refreshments and to practice speaking in Spanish. Several of Centro Hispano’s staff and ESL students participated in the discussion as well.
This is just the beginning of our plans to incorporate more opportunities for community members to practice and learn Spanish at Centro Hispano. In fact, we will be hosting the Knoxville Spanish Roundtable again on Tuesday, July 11th from 6:30-8:00. You are welcome to come and join us!
For more information, please contact our Adult Education Coordinator, Brandon Ledford at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since January, Mr. Bob Grimac has been leading music classes for children at Centro Hispano nearly every Tuesday evening.
Bob has worked in the past teaching music and Spanish in Knox County Schools and is extremely active volunteering with various organizations around Knoxville. We are so thankful to have him sharing his musical talents with us, and the children really look forward to his music classes each week.
We are currently seeking sponsors and donations to allow this program to continue in the Fall. If you are able to help, please contact Children’s Program Coordinator Megan Barolet-Fogarty at email@example.com.
In June Centro Hispano applied for and received a grant from Conexion Américas in Nashville to develop a Latino Student Success Coalition to bring together educators, school counselors, administrators and community members who are concerned about the unique challenges facing Latino students, particularly English Language Learners, in the Knox County Schools and surrounding areas.
In the last five years, the population of Latino students served in Knox County Schools has increased by 40%. Often our schools and individual educators are not equipped to effectively support this population. The mission of the Latino Student Success Coalition is to develop the capacity of youth, educators, and community members to share resources and advocate for the educational success and life opportunities of Latino students in Knox County Schools.
If you or someone you know is interested in participating in this coalition, or in making a presentation or sponsoring an event as we work to develop life skills and youth leadership with students at Fulton High School, please contact Megan Barolet-Fogarty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ESL Student and Volunteer Lorena Tempone
Lorena Tempone is an architect from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She came to Knoxville in 2015 with her husband who is completing a Master’s degree at the University of Tennessee.
Lorena began studying English at Centro Hispano in December of 2015 and has now advanced to participating comfortably in our highest level conversation class. She has been a part of the Women’s Wellness Group since it began last Fall and she credits Centro Hispano not only for helping her build connections to begin socializing and connecting with other immigrants, but also for giving her more confidence in her ability to integrate into the greater Knoxville community.
In February, Lorena began volunteering regularly with Centro Hispano. Just like Centro Hispano had helped her, she realized that she wanted to give back to the organization and to provide help to those who needed it most. In addition to helping with the Women’s Wellness Group, she has been putting her architectural experience to work helping maintain and improve our building. She has drawn up plans for a new fence around our patio, sewn new cushions for the benches in the main room, built shelves, and has contributed many hours to cleaning and painting both the interior and exterior of the building.
Sadly, Lorena will be returning to Argentina at the end of this summer and she will be greatly missed by the staff, students, and volunteers at Centro Hispano. However, we’re happy we were able to provide support when she needed it, and appreciate all that she has done for us in return!