Elvis Almanzar, a psychology major at Temple University, sported a maroon and yellow Puentes de Salud T-shirt. From Reading, Pa., Almanzar is tied into his senior year which will end with him receiving a certificate of specialization in Health and Human Services in Spanish in addition to his degree in psychology.
Almanzar is a first-generation American whose parents came from Mexico. He volunteers for a program that branched off from the program his T-shirt advertises, Puentes Hacia el Futuro. The program is located at Eighth and Snyder streets in the Houston Community Center.
“I found it interesting because I could relate to the mission statement and what they were trying to do,” Almanzar said. He found out about the program through one of his Spanish professors.
Puentes Hacia el Futuro is a tutoring program for children beneath Puentes de Salud. The name translates as “Bridges Toward the Future” in English. The volunteers help Mexican immigrant students from kindergarten to 5th grade levels. In Mexico, there is no standard for what should be taught within each grade level, unlike in the United States where children must master certain skills in order to pass each grade level.
“Sometimes you have to take it back to the basic things that they don’t understand,” Almanzar said.
Almanzar normally helps out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, where he is a Spanish-speaking asset to the program. Some of the older kids use Spanish that the other tutors don’t know when speaking with their classmates, but Almanzar can translate. He also helps communicate with the parents of the students since many of them are not fluent in English.
“It’s a good hands on experience for the tutors and for the children as well. It’s learning on both ends,” Almanzar said.
Students learning Spanish gain experience with native speakers and immigrant children start to catch up to where they need to be in concordance with their grade level.