Bienvenidos a E.K. Powe

By Ben Hand-Bender

The Ortiz family were fantastic subjects to document. They are a loving family, and the three children are enthusiastic and very friendly. I was interested in working on a project related to the unique issues confronted by Latinos and native Spanish-speakers in Durham Public Schools. The challenges faced by these communities are often misunderstood and under-appreciated. While it took time for a level of trust to develop between me and the family, as well as the other Enlaces Program members, I believe the results were extremely fruitful.

I was given the opportunity to peer into the social, academic and familial worlds of these three children—which was an amazing experience. Each child, in their own way, directly addresses any problems they face due to being an ESL student or having mostly monolingual parents. Native English speakers often don't recognize the challenges these bilingual students must overcome, and once informed, we often do not understand how these children can surpass such barriers. The truth is that the Ortiz children do face difficulties that many of their classmates do not—but they never give this a second a thought. Instead, each has learned to work hard and confidently put themselves out into the world. The Ortiz children are brave, thoughtful, and a joy to be around. Yet it is clear that efforts like Enlaces Program and the ESL classes at E.K. Powe are necessary to ensure that these children, and countless others, are given the opportunity to flourish and succeed.