A program at Sauk Valley Community College is helping make an impact on Hispanic/Latino families throughout the area.
FUSE, or Families United for a Strong Education, is a bilingual program offered at no charge to non-English and limited English-speaking Hispanic/Latino families with children age fourth grade to high school senior. Offered through Sauk’s Office of Cross-Cultural Services and the University of Illinois Extension, FUSE helps participating families set higher educational goals, increase communication among family members, and develop an appreciation for Latino culture through art and craft activities.
Each FUSE meeting features speakers that motivate participants to continue their education and speak about their career and college experience. Ana Salgado, coordinator of Sauk’s Cross-Cultural program, said that at a recent FUSE meeting, former Sauk student Camilo Quintana, shared his art, a collection of guitars, his experience at Sauk, and the importance of staying united as a family regardless of people’s differences. He played guitar and encouraged a ninth grade participant to accompany him on the violin. Within a few minutes, the student, who had never played the violin, was accompanying Quintana with simple chords. Both performed for the attendees who sang along. Participants also decorated tiles to celebrate the Hispanic/Latino culture.
“Most of those that attend the FUSE meetings did not complete high school in their country, and though some did, they need to learn English or complete their GED in order to achieve the success they desire,” explained Salgado. She added that the goal of one recent participant was to pass the citizenship test. “By attending the ESL classes she accomplished her goal,” said Salgado. “Another FUSE participant is already enrolled in college-level classes at Sauk and would like to major in business.”
At a December FUSE event, families learned about careers in health care and created family crests. Salgado said that participants were very thankful for the opportunity to come together as a family, be exposed to what Sauk offers, and want to learn more about programs and careers.
“They would also like to meet more often and for a longer time,” said Salgado, who added that evaluations from participants have been very positive, ranging from “I like that it unites families” to “my husband was the first one to attend a meeting and both of us came today.”
To help families set higher educational goals, parents are connected with ESL/GED classes offered through Sauk and encouraged to become engaged in their children’s education.
Salgado said that the next FUSE meeting will be offered at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, March 2, beginning in Room 2K2. This event will feature a trip to the Latino Book and Family Festival in Chicago with transportation provided, and a visit to Sauk. Adults will tour the ESL & GED lab while children will visit the College’s computer lab to participate in the bilingual program Could This Be Your Life? This program gives children a chance to explore future career opportunities.
FUSE was developed with grants from the Illinois Community College Board, the Illinois State Board of Education, and funded 100 percent through Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006.
For more information on Sauk’s FUSE Program, contact Ana Salgado, coordinator of cross-cultural services, at 815/835-6432.