Esperanza Cantu – who many probably know as “Hope” – is a rising sophomore at Kalamazoo College in Michigan who will be working with the Llano Grande Center this summer as our intern. She is helping lead the Center’s high school students through some of the amazing projects that began this past school year.
Flipping burgers and making sundaes was so last summer, so I decided to occupy my summertime with something more significant than an ordinary job. The Llano Grande Center’s newsletter updated me on ongoing projects, and after a phone call from Kalamazoo, MI to Elsa, TX, I set up plans to intern with the LGC. Kalamazoo College’s Field Experience Internship Program allowed me to register my internship with the campus’ Center for Career Development for transcript notation, and awarded me with a competitive, financial grant for various work expenses.
The ongoing project that finalized my decision to intern with Llano Grande involved the Red Barn Chemical Company that inhabited the Elsa community for a little over twenty years. Students worked with staff members throughout the year to investigate Red Barn’s history in Elsa and tell community members’ stories surrounding the hushed controversy. Developing this research will help to further raise community awareness of the relationship between the environment’s condition and population health, and give me the experience I need for future work.
Another project worth mentioning involves the redesigning of Mario Leal Elsa City Park. Students have continuously put their time and effort into renovating the park so that it becomes a more welcoming environment for community members. Meeting with an architect hired by the city will hopefully transform these creative ideas into a well-deserved reality. Engaging in youth-adult partnerships at the LGC, we will work to raise awareness to the community about these issues that have previously been ignored.