How an MPH Spanish Teacher and her Class Went Above and Beyond

In October, 2016, a young dancer named Alejandro Cobas immigrated from Cuba to the United States to make a better life for his family. Recruited at age eight to the Nation School of Ballet in Cuba, Alejandro came to the U.S. in search of a professional dancing position, which he found at Syracuse City Ballet.

MPH World Language Instructor, Erica Stark, who has a daughter enrolled at Syracuse City Ballet, was contacted immediately and asked if she could lend her expertise to the company as a translator. Dance wouldn’t be an issue. Learning English, on the other hand, could pose a challenge! She agreed to help and shared the story with her Spanish II class, who eagerly sprang into action to help Alejandro.

They developed a series of flash cards and guides to help Alejandro navigate his day-to-day life. Foods, feelings, questions, and even dance positions were drawn, labeled, and carefully assembled by the class. A major linguistic challenge for our students was trying to include phonetic pronunciations of English word in the Spanish language. They spent two classes on the project and quickly sent their work to Alejandro.

Ms. Stark also shared this story with the Bicycle Mechanics Club, led by Alex Leclercq. As luck would have it, they had just received two new bikes to refurbish, so the club went to work and presented a completed bike to Alejandro as a gift.

As a token of his appreciation, Alejandro has plans to come to MPH next week to put on a performance for our students, prior to the opening of “Snow White” at Syracuse City Ballet on March 10.

To learn more about Alejandro’s story and watch Ms. Stark’s translating skills in action, tune into “Extraordinary Talent” on News Channel 9 at 5:30 p.m. on March 7 or 6:45 a.m. on March 8.