Thursday, September 23, 2010

SHINE On Through

The Latino culture and its people have been part of U.S. fabric for as long as it has existed, back when the west and southwest states including California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas belonged to Mexico. As the United States’ boundaries changed and became the “Land of Opportunity” people from all over the world and especially Latino countries came in droves. Latino immigrants of all ages came with the high hopes of a better life, often escaping difficult, even dangerous, situations. Countries mired in civil wars made it hard for people to earn good livelihoods. And coming to America hasn’t always been easy, as most immigrants will tell you. Because although immigrant communities have a reputation for being closely knit, isolation and depression are all too familiar to many.

Project SHINE was created in Philadelphia, PA at the Intergenerational Center at Temple University by Nancy Henkin. She hoped that this new project would help ease the transition for older adult immigrants, who, after spending their entire lives in another way of life, have painful experiences integrating into a new culture. Project SHINE was just the beginning at Temple University; it runs at eighteen other campuses across the country. Through this service-learning program, college students serve as tutors, coaches, mentors of sort in ESL classrooms in community agencies that serve immigrants and older adults. This program not only benefits the older adults, who get to interact with college students, learn English, learn about America from one of its younger generations, they are also able to share their wisdom with young people, give first-hand accounts of what life is like in a part of the world that is unfamiliar to many people. This is a program that makes sense, benefits younger and older individuals, and meets a community need.

For more information on Project SHINE visit

~Roxana is blogging during Hispanic History Month about intergenerational programs and initiatives that serve Latino communities.

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