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 the U.S., Diego’s family first began working with FCA’s Child & Family Development program, and staff there referred Diego to the ASPIRE after-school and summer program. There, staff encouraged him to practice his English and translated for his family when they spoke with teachers at the school.
Motivated by ASPIRE’s “All Star” program, where students with top grades earn pizza parties and other rewards, Diego 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. 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 need to the school due to the language barrier. To access his schoolwork, Diego walked to a laundromat in the heat, sat in the corner to avoid the other patrons, and spread his work on chairs. Eventually, he spoke up to his ASPIRE teachers.
"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 an environment more conducive to learning and avoid the risk of contracting COVID-19.
"We came here to find a better life and support ourselves. ASPIRE made a big impact," said Diego.