Summer Centered: Serving Philadelphia’s Latinx Community at Puentes de Salud
Keishla Sanchez ‘22, Elena Bien ‘24, and Sunny Martinez ‘24 are interning at the South Philly nonprofit, supporting its youth programs through bilingual education and activities.
This summer, Keishla Sanchez ‘22, Elena Bien ‘24, and Sunny Martinez ‘24 are giving back to the greater Philadelphia Latinx community. Through a partnership with the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, the trio is interning with the educational branch of Puentes de Salud. Located in South Philadelphia, Puentes de Salud is a nonprofit that promotes the health, wellness, and education of the city’s expanding Latinx community.
The three students are focusing on helping children in the 1st to 5th grades develop creative and personal skills, as well as a connection to their culture and heritage. Each of them is working in a group of three counselors, as well as with one group leader, to lead groups of about 13 students in activities. They are joined by a Haverford alumni, Lilli Domenick ‘19 as the camp director, as well as students from Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore colleges, making the education branch of Puentes a true Tri-Co community effort.
“We work alongside group leaders to supervise students and facilitate activities,” Sanchez explained. “Additionally, we help students learn and identify their own goals and preferences and support students in building conflict resolution skills.”
A day for the students of Puentes begins with breakfast and a warm-up and icebreaker activity. Students also participate in read-alouds in both English and Spanish. Students also participate in an art activity, hosted by teaching assistants from Fleisher Art Memorial, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“Thursdays are field trip days, we recently visited John Heinz Wildlife Refuge and the Insectarium. On Fridays, we debrief virtually in our small classroom groups by discussing how our past week went, and we also assign roles for who will lead which activities for the upcoming week,” said Sanchez, who recently graduated from Haverford with a psychology degree. She is now pursuing a career in occupational therapy.
Bien, a neuroscience major who is also minoring in education and health studies, wanted to work at Puentes because its goals and mission align with her passions for working with youth and engaging with multilingual communities.
“Our internship this summer is centered around education and multilingual work with youth in Philly,” she said. “We are learning to implement curriculum and construct teaching frameworks that include consent-based interactions and anti-oppressive approaches. The environment also hopes to welcome students into a multicultural and multilingual space.”
The three Fords also noted that this focus on multilingual education was particularly important to them. Puentes places an emphasis on language justice, or encouraging youth to speak the language they prefer, rather than simply learning in English.
“I also wanted to remind the youth of the power behind speaking multiple languages, especially since our education system prioritizes the English language,” Sanchez said.
Martinez has worked at Puentes since her first year at Haverford as part of an online tutoring program, which she learned about from a first-year Horizons group chat. She says that work at Puentes provided her with a sense of belonging that added to her experience at Haverford.
“Puentes reminds me of home,” she said. “The community feels just like the one I am so far away from, and being able to give back to the people who share my cultural identity and give them that same sense of home that they long for is very fulfilling to me.”
Martinez, a political science major who is minoring in education and concentrating in peace, justice, and human rights, thanked the funding provided by the CPGC. She explained that it allowed her to continue to support the organization that has acted as another home for her while at Haverford.
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ campus-supported summer work.