It’s not every day that students are told to be rebeldes, or rebels, but that’s exactly what they were encouraged to do Thursday evening by Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, highly-decorated military veteran and award-winning biliteracy author, who told them to rebel against the preconceived notions of what their lives are supposed to look like during Dutcher Middle School’s Noche de Inspiracion.
“Doors will be slammed shut in your face if you decide you’re going to only speak one language,” said Tiscareño-Sato. “You won’t even know about the (opportunities) that you miss because they won't be offered to you, so please learn the two languages master the two languages and when you're in college, add a third language — why not?
“I want to inspire you to break out of the mold, be a rebelde, do something different and build a beautiful life for yourself,” continued Tiscareño-Sato.
Tiscareño-Sato was the guest speaker during the Night of Inspiration, which celebrated the importance of biliteracy and the school’s dual-immersion program. According to principal Scott Lucas, the school currently has about 300 dual-immersion students.
“We are very fortunate to have the dual-immersion program on our campus,” said Lucas. “As you know, this year they expanded to have sixth graders on our campus, so this is a night to celebrate the program.”
As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, Tiscareño-Sato graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and was honored by The White House in 2014 as a Woman Military Veteran Leader Champion of Change. She also earned a Master's degree in International Management from the School of Global Commerce at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington while on active duty with the U.S. Air Force. She is the author of a bestselling bilingual children’s book titled “Good Night Captain Mama/Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá,” which is the first bilingual children’s book about women who serve in the military.
“Keep your language, add a language, add a third language because you’re growing up in the 21st century where people are moving all over the globe all the time,” Tiscareño-Sato told students. “We’re the most globalized we have ever been in our species and our economy and the winners are the people who speak lots of languages.”
One student who listened to Tiscareño-Sato’s message Thursday was eighth grader Jacob Putnam, who has been enrolled in the dual-immersion program since kindergarten at Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy.
“It’s given me the ability to speak with other individuals whose first language is Spanish and have a good conversation with them,” said Putnam. “It’s benefitted me a lot and I know later in life when I pursue a job in a medical field, the ability to speak to a patient in Spanish would be really good.”
Putnam was joined by his father Ron Putnam, who said that he originally decided to enroll Jacob in dual-immersion in kindergarten after he heard great things about the program.
“The ability to understand and be able to interact with another culture is so beneficial,” said Ron Putnam. “The world is such a diverse place, so I just think it’s important to be able to speak another language, especially in today’s world.”
In addition to hearing Tiscareño-Sato, students and families who attended Thursday’s event also got a chance to listen to some writings of dual-immersion students. One such student was seventh grader Fatima Solorio, who as a member of an immigrant family shared a letter that she wrote to President Donald Trump.
“It may be that many people hate you, but I do not. Even if you take my family away. I have faith that you will change your mind and will make America a promised land for citizens, immigrants and all human beings,” said Solorio. “When I close my eyes to sleep, I do not want to close them because I know that maybe the next day I will not sleep next to my parents again.
“Please think. Freedom and justice for all. One world, no wall,” added Solorio