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FSU Hosts English Camp For Migrant Students

Clara Solano and her son Rey, with Florida State University's Loyda Lopez at the WFSU studios.

Florida State University is host to many summer camps—from music to science. But it’s also reached out to the state’s migrant community in an effort to help kids learn English.

Clara Solano and her family are from Mexico. She works in the state’s agriculture industry, harvesting tomatoes. Today, she’s with Loyda Lopez who helps translate for Solano.

“It has been a great experience for them. She has four children that are participating in the summer school and they were learning reading, math and also English, and lately a third language."

Solano’s children are between four and 15 years old. Most are still learning English. While at FSU’s  camp for migrant families, they also learned Chinese and Turkish. Solano says she decided to come to the U.S. to leave a difficult situation in Mexico. But 15 years later, she still struggles to understand the language. Even so, she says the transition has been worth it.

"It was difficult because she didn’t know how to count the currency, the dollars. But at the same time, she works hard to have a good life here," explained Lopez, translating for Solano.

What Solano, and other parents like her, want to ensure is a good life for their children. Her son Rey, is eight years old, and goes to school in Naples, where the family lives most of the year.

He said he enjoyed the camp. "I did math, and reading," he said.

Rey says he wants to be a police officer when he’s older, "because they catch robbers, who steal from the bank.”

Solano wants to ensure her son’s dream, can come true. And FSU’s Loyda Lopez, a teacher in the program, says FSU’s Summer Camp can help Rey reach his goal.

“Having contact with people outside their community…gives them the decided to continue studying and dreaming and feeling like they can be one of those students, like FSU," said Lopez,  a resource specialist who also recruits families to attend.

The five-week program is a partnership between FSU and the Panhandle Area Education Consortium. About 40 students attend the camp, and it works with students whose parents have come to the area to work.