The Sopris Sun is conducting a series of interviews with folks you may not have seen in the paper before — a sort of introduction to your neighbors. This week we caught up with Yarely Valasco, a first generation American who was born in Aspen and just graduated from Basalt High School, where she worked as a teacher’s intern for ELD teacher Leticia Ingram supporting newcomer students transitioning to life in the United States.
Q: What is it like to grow up in a bilingual home?
A: I think it’s a privilege to know both languages when you’re growing up as a kid and have both traditions from Mexico and from America.
Q: What was your role as a teachers intern for Ms. Ingram?
A: I would translate for the students so that they could understand and I would help (Ms. Ingrim) with anything else she needed.
Q: Can you talk about your Capstone project?
A: I handed out questionnaires to students asking them how it was for them moving into a new country, not knowing any English. And then I put that information into a website.
Q: What were some of your findings?
A: I found out that some of them were intimidated not knowing the language. They really wanted to learn it. And that they were adapting to what everyone else was doing, like, if everyone in school had an iPhone or a type of clothing they would want it too.
Q: What was it like mentoring your peers who are coming here and learning a new language?
A: Well, the first day I walked in here and was like ‘I don’t know what to do’ and then I got used to it. I really like to help people and so I really liked it. It was a good experience.
Q: What was the best thing about getting your education in Basalt?
A: The friends that I have made and then contacts with teachers that I know. Even my (elementary school teachers), I still keep in touch with them. And I really like the environment that we have here surrounded by mountains. It’s a pretty town to go to school in.
Q: How do you feel about finishing your final year through distance learning?
A: I honestly didn’t expect it. I thought we would have a ceremony like the class of 2019 did but it was different but it was good.. We had to finish our classes online. We lost senior ditch day and the pranks and our ceremony but I think I’ve learned to like appreciate what I had. Before I would just take it for granted.
Q: What will you do next?
A: I am going to work and hopefully I will visit my family in Mexico. In one or two years I hope to attend CMC and do something in the teaching field. Ms. Ingrim said I would be a really good teacher.
Q: Do you have any advice for your fellow graduates?
A: I would say just keep going and see where life takes you in the situation that we’re living right now.