A Natural Connection: We Call Her Mom

by | Dec 9, 2022 | Blog

WE CALL HER MOM

Aneth, New York City

“I FEEL LIKE I CAN BE AS GREAT AS HER BECAUSE SHE IS THIS POWERFUL HISPANIC WOMAN WHO I ASPIRE TO BE.”

Aneth felt isolated and alone when she moved to New York City from Ecuador as a second grader.

There was no one at her school she felt she could connect with. No one who she felt understood her unique situation as an immigrant. Not to mention the language barriers she encountered with nearly all of her teachers.

It was not until nearly a decade later, when Aneth was a junior in high school, that she took her first class with a Latina teacher who inspired and supported her – both inside and outside of the classroom.

It changed her life forever.

“She sets an example for us,” said Aneth, 18, who is now in college.

“She’s a Hispanic woman in a predominantly white field. She shared with us that even some times she gets nervous, or intimidated, but she pushes through. That’s encouraging because I’ve been in places where I feel nervous or I feel uncomfortable. I feel like I can be as great as her because she is this powerful Hispanic woman who I aspire to be.”

That connection Aneth developed with her teacher is one all too many children in New York never experience.

But it’s one Aneth and some of her classmates say got them to think differently about education, and put them on the path to a successful future.

In Aneth’s case, the teacher was a source of encouragement and support. She was someone Aneth could easily identify with, and who helped her understand her Latino culture. That teacher also encouraged students, including Aneth, to participate in extracurricular activities and to take on leadership roles in those organizations.

“We call her our mom,” Aneth said. “She was kind of like the foundation for all of us. She offered a safe space for us.”