Bilingual Club visits Clemson

Laurie Thurston
Numerous bilingual students enjoyed a day at Clemson University.

Lleyton Abell, Feature Editor

For many at LDHS, speaking one language properly is a mountain of a job that takes lots of work and effort, so speaking two languages fluently would be tantamount to reaching the summit of Everest with only one shoe. Bilingual speakers, however, get little to no attention at LDHS, and before this year those gifted with the ability to understand two languages had no recognition.

Because many people do not recognize bilinguals for their abilities, members of the LDHS Bilingual Club went to Clemson University April 13 to enjoy a day full of college activities and spread their knowledge of two languages at a college of over 23,000 students. By creating this club and sending its members out into the world, LDHS made progress toward truly recognizing its bilinguists. The trip took all school day and allowed bilingual students to see a baseball game, to experience college campus life and to be alongside other bilingual speakers for a day.

English as a Second Language (ESOL) teacher Laurie Thurston decided this year that she would bring attention to the typically hidden abilities of her students.

“The Bilingual Club was created to give students who are bilingual a leadership position,” Thurston said. “As our world becomes more global, it is important to celebrate the abilities students have who can communicate in two languages.”

Thurston said a major reason for creating the Bilingual Club was to fill a lack of bilingual instructors and help students who come to Laurens not speaking English “at school functions and community activities.” However, her major reason was the “need for people who are able to speak two languages is increasing daily.”

Thurston was very pleased with the Clemson trip itself and praised her group for being “very well behaved.” Thurston thought the group had a very good time and enjoyed spreading their knowledge somewhere outside of their typical school environment.

One of her students is freshman Zabdi Rios-Tinajero, who said that going to Clemson was “a trip of a lifetime.” Rios-Tinajero really enjoyed the fact that the Bilingual Club members got to go through Clemson’s gardens and eat out at the Golden Corral buffet after finishing their campus trip. However, while seeing a baseball game and sitting in during part of a college class may have been an exciting experience, her favorite part was “that I got to see some of my old friends, and that it was cool that we could communicate across two languages.”

Another student who went on the trip was freshman Evelyn Camargo. Camargo remembers that the trip was “one of the best [she] ever took.” Camargo spoke fondly of the buffet at Golden Corral and all of the time she got to spend with friends she has not seen since last year.

“I didn’t know going to Clemson would be such a fun time,” Camargo said. “Who knew I could learn so much about my people?”

Hispanic students around LDHS felt many different ways about seeing their culture represented at a college level, but the overall consensus was very positive.

“I am happy for the representation,” junior Eric Diaz said.

Junior Juan Alberto Pablo Pablo said, “I am proud I get to see my culture represented through a college environment.”

Senior Victor Ornelas, who plans to attend a university in the fall, said that it is a good way to give students whose families may not have been to college a chance to see what it will be like for them a few years from now.

The Bilingual Club’s visiting Clemson seems to be only the first step in showing off the bilingual abilities possessed by so many at LDHS. As for the next step, Thurston said, “We would like to have students help with parent-teacher conferences and Reading on the River [Reading at the Ridge.]”

Who knows that the next step will be for the newly formed Bilingual Club? If whatever that step is matches the impact of the Clemson trip, it will most certainly be muy bueno.