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Celebrating Soccer, Books, and Community
CHESTERTOWN, MD—On Sunday, April 19, Washington College invited the area’s Latino children to campus for the eighth annual Día de Fútbol, an event that included reading books, chatting in English and Spanish, and, of course, plenty of soccer.
The event took place outside in the Roy Kirby, Jr. Stadium on a warm spring day. Over 30 student volunteers from the Spanish Club, the Service Council, the Caring for Kids Club, Pi Lambda Theta, and the Men’s Soccer Club spent the day together with more than 40 children from the local community and their families.
The Día de Fútbol was started eight years ago by Shawn Stein, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese, and has grown every year since. Over the past five years, Stein has teamed up with Bridget Bunten, an assistant professor of education with expertise in teaching English as a second language, to co-organize the group’s operations throughout the year.
The annual event welcomes Latino children and their families to campus for a day of soccer, literacy activities, and community building with Washington College students, professors and staff and their families. For the College students who study Spanish, it’s a fun opportunity to practice their language skills with native speakers, and likewise for the community members who are learning English.
The families arrived in the morning and received a Día de Fútbol bag and a book of their choosing. All of the participants got together for an icebreaker and a read-aloud from a book. Then they split into smaller groups for reading activities, primarily led by students from Pi Lambda Theta, the Education Honor Society.
When it came time for soccer, the younger children were treated to a clinic where they played games that boosted their ball skills, while the older children joined the Soccer Club members, professors and some parents for a pick-up game.
To complete the morning of fun and intercultural exchange, everyone enjoyed a home-cooked lunch in the stadium’s skybox courtesy of the owners of Los Jarochos Mexican market.
The Día de Futbol is run completely through donations and is a true collaborative effort. Students’ fundraising and community outreach efforts run throughout the year. In addition to donations received from individuals, this year’s sponsors included the Department of Modern Languages, the Education Department, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Global Education Office, the Athletic Department, the Spanish Club, the Service Council, Caring for Kids, and Pi Lambda Theta of Washington College.