When Diego and his family came to the U.S. from Guatemala three years ago, he was 10 years old and didn’t speak any English.
Here in Norwalk, Diego joined Family & Children’s Agency’s ASPIRE after-school and summer program.
Our staff encouraged him to practice his English and translated for his family when they spoke with teachers at his school. Motivated by ASPIRE’s “All Star” program, which rewards students with top grades, Diego worked hard and brought his grades up from D’s to straight A’s in his main subjects.
Some of Diego’s best memories come from ASPIRE, from learning to play the ukulele to riding his first rollercoaster on a field trip with our summer program. And when he became interested in anime, he was able to take a cartoon drawing elective at ASPIRE.
When COVID-19 made remote learning necessary, Diego was at a disadvantage. He didn’t have internet access from home, and his parents struggled to communicate this critical need to the school due to the language barrier. To access his schoolwork, Diego walked to a laundromat where he was able to access the internet. He sat in the corner to distance from customers and spread his work on chairs.
Eventually, he confided in his ASPIRE teachers about the problem he was facing.
“It was my last hope, because I had tried a lot of ways to try to fix it. That was really hard,” said Diego.
Once the issue was identified, ASPIRE staff worked with the school district to get a solution in place. Now, with internet access at home, Diego can complete his schoolwork in a safer environment more conducive to learning. He continues to excel in his studies and his stress level has been reduced.
“We came here to find a better life and support ourselves. ASPIRE made a big impact,” said Diego.