By Tim Harfmann
Sixty students were inducted into the first-ever Spanish Honor Society at Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. It’s the only chapter of its kind among nine Catholic high schools in the borough. The students want to use the honor to help immigrants.
“It helps Xaverian be more culturally enriched, culturally diverse. We learn more about, not just the Spanish language, but also the Spanish culture. And we’re going to do different volunteer projects around the Latino community to help educate ourselves,” said Vanchi Ly, a junior and member of the new society.
But while the students are learning about language and culture, the hot-button topic of immigration is on their minds.
Ly is the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants. Her father escaped the Vietnam War by boat. She understands what many immigrants face. “They’re fleeing violence, so they need to come here in the same way. They’re just looking for safety and better opportunities,” said Ly.
To be inducted, students need to have a high grade point average and excel in Spanish language class.
Tara McLaughlin is a junior and the chapter’s vice president. “I’m learning a lot more about the world and how it’s affected by our diversity. And I get to see other people’s perspective through that,” said McLaughlin.
McLaughlin’s grandparents immigrated to the United States from Ireland. She said while they had the opportunity to live the American dream, it’s hard for her to watch others struggle. “I don’t get to experience the discrimination that they face in our world today,” said McLaughlin. “By learning more about their culture, it allows me to see their perspective and the struggles that they face.”
“We just want to build a community and support, so we stand behind the Hispanic community and all the issues that they face,” said Ly.
A society looking to expand their faith and culture in order to understand other immigrants.