Note from the Editor: This is an article in a series called "Wethersfield Heroes," where our students work to highlight and honor those in our community going above and beyond amidst the tumultuous year. If you know someone that you would like to nominate as a Wethersfield Hero, please contact Mr. Martin at email@example.com.
by: Riley D'amato
“My mom is from Mexico, but I grew up only speaking English, and feeling like there was a whole piece of culture that I missed. When I would go to Mexico, I would feel uncomfortable that I didn't know the language. And I had this one aunt that would always smile at me and always hug me and always make me feel welcome. I got to learn what the felt like, that it didn't matter that we didn’t speak the language, there was always one person that made me feel welcome.”
And these memories and events of her childhood shaped Kim Bobin into exactly the Wethersfield Hero she is today.
Now she is working with families to learn English. As the Family and early childhood coordinator of wethersfield, Mrs. Bobin teaches in an interactive way by helping adults who don't speak or speak very little of the language, to schedule doctors appointments and fill out job applications. While with the kids, they learn basics like shapes and clothes, preparing them for kindergarten overall.
These families can feel as isolated like Mrs. Bobin felt when she was in Mexico. To add on top of that, the COVID pandemic did not help that isolation at all. Families had little contact with people outside of their little pod and there weren't opportunities to expand that small bubble.
To combat this she said, “During COVID, we do outside playgroups, so then when they see me and they are not sure who that lady is, I sing one of the songs we do. And they make the connection, ‘oh this is the lady from zoom’, and i think that is the best part, when their little eyes light up.”
And that connection allows them to have a love for learning and a want to learn at a young age.
She also said, “My favorite part of being with the kids is, on Zoom, I tried to learn to say hello in the different languages. What I do is on Thursdays I log into the adult education class and the babies are on zoom. There are 2 babies from Bosnia, I say good morning, dobro jutro (good morning in Bosnian). And the mom goes to get the babies and they gasp.”
And the special thing about this program is it intertwines child learning and adult learning into one. When the children learn, the adults learn, and vice versa.
And the larger portions of these students are younger and are more sizable now than ever. When Mrs. Bobin started, there were about 175 kids in k-6 who spoke foreign languages, now 8-10% of the total student population does. This growth is something that makes this program so important. These kids getting ready for kindergarten without, or a minimal language barrier is such a big thing for them to stay on par and exceed expectations in school.
With the work that Mrs. Bobin does on a daily basis for the town and families in our Wethersfield community, many families can smile a little wider and feel a whole lot more welcome.
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