Students who are part of the Sampson County Schools Migrant Education Program were recently given the opportunity to visit one of the most well-known universities in the state.
According to Lisa Reynolds, director of Federal Programs for Sampson County Schools, for the third year in a row, a group of Migrant Education students were asked to serve as guest panelists at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Students. During their visit, students were provided a guided tour of the campus, including the Duke Chapel and Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“Students were asked to share their experiences and insights as well as answer other questions posed by graduate students at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies,” Reynolds noted. “This experience has enhanced both the students of SCS and Duke University.”
The Migrant Education Program funds, according to Jose Garcia, recruiter and tutor for the program, are received from the federal government, allowing the school system to serve the migrant students and their families by providing educational assistance.
Within Sampson County Schools, there are five migrant tutors serving the four school districts. Garcia and the other tutors assess a student’s needs when deciding on the priority to service the families. In addition to the tutoring services, the program assists some families during holidays and emergency situations with food and basic household needs.
“We are a voice for the migrant students and their families,” Garcia explained.
For the last three years, he noted, students from different districts in Sampson County have traveled to the prestigious university, allowing students a chance to be a part of the presentations, while touring the school.
“We are invited to go and share the stories of our students,” Garcia said. “The Duke students ask them questions about being a migrant student and moving around to different locations.”
According to Garcia, the program serves more than 200 young people. Services are provided throughout the school year, but Garcia said the numbers tend to increase this time of year because of farming seasons and will drop back off around November.
This year, Garcia was able to take five of the program’s students on the tour of the campus and participate in the panel session with the Duke graduate students. For some of these kids, it was their first trip outside Sampson County since moving.
“The kids were amazed at the campus,” Garcia acknowledged. “At first, they were a little intimidated, but then they began to open up and talk about their experiences.”
The kids were able to share their thoughts of appreciation for the opportunity to travel to the school and be a part of the discussion.
“Hearing everyone’s perspective was very breathtaking,” student Carina Perez said. “Listening and sharing my thoughts and (their) thoughts was amazing.”
Student Juan Velasquez only had a few words to share about his experience.
“It was a wonderful experience.”
Also attending with Garcia were recruiter Waldyn Ramirez and bilingual teacher assistant Evert Cruz.