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Día de Fútbol
This year was one for the books – with increased participation at the event and boosted interest from new families and children. Dr. Bridget Bunten, faculty advisor for Día de Fútbol and Associate Professor of Education, credits much of Día de Fútbol’s success to collaboration with the Alfabetismo Primero (Literacy First) Program that operates in some of the elementary and secondary schools in Queen Anne’s County. “Alfabetismo Primero leaders reached out to us with the hopes of making WC a community partner and there is no doubt that this helped us tap into the Spanish speaking community more than we have in years past,” Bunten said.
Another goal of the partnership between Alfabetismo Primero and WC is for the Día de Fútbol (DDF) student leaders to mentor and support the high school students and give them opportunities to get a better feel for college life. WC students went to Alfabetismo Primero’s Family Night in February, making important connections to Spanish speaking students and families in Queen Anne’s County. Día de Fútbol also hosted the group, including middle and high school students, teachers, and administrators, on campus for a tour, student leader discussions, and lunch.
WC students Rachel Brown ’16, Brooke Coulbourne ’17 and Allie Murray ’17 are members of the Día de Fútbol executive committee. Brown, a part of DDF all four years she has attended WC, has found the Alfabetismo Primero/Washington College partnership to be beneficial. “This year we had over 200 people from families in the local Latino community–that’s a great impact we were able to achieve through a new partnership with Alfabetismo Primero, a literacy initiative coming out of Queen Anne’s County. These younger student leaders really helped make this year so successful, and I hope this partnership continues to grow the event.”
Beyond the partnership with Alfabetismo Primero, DDF hopes to continue to build connections within the Spanish speaking population. This part of the experience has been something executive committee member Allie Murray has enjoyed. “The DDF executive committee goes through so much planning, outreach, and fundraising throughout the entire year and just watching it all finally come together is so incredibly gratifying,” she said. “I love participating in outreach activities in the community and advocating for what the DDF stands for, community-bridging.”
This sense of community fostered by DDF is vital, not just for the Spanish-speaking community but also for Washington College. “Día de Fútbol is an important event because as a campus community we should have these links and connections with the outside community,” said executive committee member Brooke Coulborne. “Día de Fútbol is a way for both the campus and the outside community to be connected, and being in such a small town, this is important.”
Dr. Bunten, who has been involved for six years in DDF, has loved watching these student volunteers come into their own through their involvement with the program. “The student leaders, they continue to impress me. It is great to see them step up into leadership roles, know what needs to be done and make those executive decisions. On the day of the event it is incredibly rewarding to be able to sit back, enjoy being with the families, and watch the student leaders and volunteers jump in, take initiative and, at times, step outside of their linguistic and cultural comfort zones.” Dr. Bunten is thankful that Dr. Amanda Sommerfeld, Assistant Professor of Psychology, joined the executive committee this year as an additional faculty advisor.
As for DDF’s future, what could be better than continuing to grow the program? Allie Murray has high hopes. “Its success is constantly growing each and every year and it is amazing to watch it reach new heights. I think we will continue to make more community connections and eventually (hopefully) everyone of Washington College, Kent County, and Queen Anne’s County will know what the DDF is,” said Murray. “The DDF takes a sport that many Latinos love (soccer) and partners it with literacy, which is such an important goal for young students. The DDF finds a way to make learning fun.”