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Telling Your Story

By Sandra Santana
Literature is beautiful for a myriad of reasons. We look to books to learn about the history of the universe, to escape the present and transport to other worlds, and sometimes, for simple self-expression. For the young students at Albany International Center, Olana S. '24 is helping their approach to literature become a defining identity moment to last a lifetime.
Olana S. '24 has spent the last year creatively guiding third-graders at Albany International Center (AIC) over the hurdles of learning English as their second language. At AIC, students receive specialized instruction in English while they gain academic skills in the core subjects of math, science, social studies, and english language arts. Tammy, Olana’s mother, is an instructor at the center, where her daughter spends most afternoons in her classroom.

Using  a unique approach to breaking the language divide, Olana S. '24 had an out-of-the-box idea to help her mother’s students practice their English. Instead of picking up regular language aids, the AIC third-graders began writing their very own books. The personal reflections tell stories about each child’s family, home country, and often, why their families decided to come to the United States. Students worked with Olana and local translators to pen their autobiographies in both English and their native languages to help preserve their identity while expanding and exercising their grammatical skills. For some students, it’s the first time they had ever seen a book with a character who resembled themselves. 

Olana S. '24 will continue to explore the development and implementation of this program next year as her Signature project at Emma Willard School. While she is in the early stages of her project, her efforts at AIC were recently showcased during an interview with Spectrum News

Join us in celebrating Olana S. '24 for her commitment to creating a diverse and equitable experience for the youth of the Capital Region and for sharing her love of learning with other students!
    • via Spectrum News

    • Olana S. '24

    • Olana S. '24 with students at the Albany International Center (via Spectrum News)


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