Mentoring Latino Youth

with John Sanchez of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

National Education

As the youngest minority group in America, the Latino community faces many challenges, including language and cultural barriers.  Adult mentors who understand the unique culture and needs of Latino youth provide living examples of how to successfully bridge two seemingly different cultures.

John Sanchez joins Robert Traynham in discussing the ways in which Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is working with the Latino community through heavy involvement in mentoring.

Interview recorded June 14, 2017.  Hosted by Robert Traynham.

Read a partial transcript of this interview below:

Traynham: Hispanics are the youngest major racial or ethnic group in America, with nearly half of U.S.-born Latinos younger than 18 years of age. Thats according to the Pew Research Center. Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Comcast Newsmakers.” Im Robert Traynham. John Sanchez with the Big Brothers Big Sisters joins me to discuss outreach efforts in the Latino community to provide children with successful role models that they can relate to. John, welcome to the program.

Sanchez: Thank you, Robert.

Traynham: Walk us through some of the unique challenges that the Latino community faces when it comes to being a mentor in the community.

Sanchez: Well, the Latino community is a unique community. As you know, its the biggest… The change that the community got opportunity to grow up in the next 20 years is incredible. Were going to be the first minority. And for then, you know, challenges around our… One is with the education system. Many Latino parents, you know, dealing with language barrier. Also, kids who dont understand how important is education, right? And parents who, because theyre working two or three jobs and their legal status, they are not able to adapt to the country.

Traynham: So, John, given the unique challenges that you just articulated, how is Big Brothers Big Sister trying to address the situation?

Sanchez:Well, we got a wonderful crew of mentors, volunteers. It doesnt matter — could be Hispanic, Caucasian, African-American, biracial, who serve this community well.

Traynham: Really? Lets focus on that. I just assumed that you would want to pair a big with a little in terms of the same ethnic group, so in other words, Im African-American, and if I was a part of the program, you would want to pair me with an African-American boy or girl. Thats not the case?

Sanchez:What we do is assess people. You know, if people are open to meet anyone, we dont mind. So if we find somebody who has similar preference with the specific kid interests, location, we introduce them in what we call pre-match meeting where they are able to interacting for a couple hours with the parent and the child and able to decide, “Is this a good match for me, or no?”

Traynham: John, as I understand it, you would like for the big to perhaps maybe give an hour of their time at least once a week if not more?

Sanchez: Its more than that. Its average four or five hours. The idea is to introduce your specific mentee to healthy and productive activities.

Traynham: Can you give some examples of that, particularly in the Latino community? Is it language barrier? Is it…? What is it, specifically?

Sanchez: Well, all the kids are bilingual, and they have a lot of potential. Parents — sometimes they dont speak English, and thats why we need bilingual mentors, too. But we also understand that, you know, because every child has got potential, volunteers able to understand, that got, you know, identify with their culture, you know, their preferences, even with their food, you know, and they attend group events.