“I like to write about the stars and how I see my family in them,” 2nd grader Fernando Augusto Gonzalez says wistfully. “I know that, no matter where we are or how far apart we live, we can look up at the sky and see the same thing.”
Fernando is talking about his parents. He thinks about them all the time. He wonders where they are; he imagines what they might be doing in that particular moment. Fernando’s parents migrated to the United States (from the rural community of Santiago Sacatepéquez, Guatemala) when he was a baby, in search of jobs that could support their family. Indigenous and illiterate, Fernando’s parents had few prospects at home, where over than half of the region’s residents live in chronic poverty and compete for limited resources.
The young, hopeful Guatemalan’s grandparents put a roof over his head and give him plenty to eat. They even saved up their meager earnings for several months to buy him a uniform – without which he would not be able to attend school.
From time to time, Fernando’s parents send small amounts of money home. But the opportunities they hoped to ﬁnd in the U.S. have been scarce and unpredictable. Fernando says his parents encourage him to stay in school and learn to read, so that he can have a better life.
Our partners at the Cooperative for Education have put together a Culture of Reading Program in Fernando’s school. The program gives him, and his family, hope for a brighter future.
Since entering the program last year, Fernando has blossomed. Once a shy and indifferent student, he now shows up early for school so that he can spend quiet time perusing the books the Cooperative for Education provides his class. He has become an enthusiastic reader and learner, and often volunteers to act out the stories in front of the other second graders. His teacher jokes that Fernando will soon take over her job.