Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas (GSNETX) developed Las Mariposas de Girl Scouts in 2006 as a program to help female English as a Second Language (ESL) students in grades kindergarten through fifth increase their fluency in the English language and thus increase their chances of graduating from high school. With a lack of English-language proficiency cited as a top reason for academic failure, Mariposas prepares girls to graduate from high school and for future success. The program’s focused target is Title 1 schools (schools with a high percentage of low income students) whose population is primarily Hispanic. Las Mariposas is an ESL educational support program provided through Girl Scouts Leadership Experience.
One of our Mariposa Girl Scouts, Carmen Bolaños was very shy when she began the program. In each session she would enter the room and try to hide behind other girls so that she could not be seen or heard. After several attempts to try to engage her and encourage her to participate, the leaders soon realized that Carmen was at a very early English proficiency level. As a result, they worked to ensure that Carmen had a bilingual Las Mariposas Program Delivery Specialist to assist her in every task and activity until she became more comfortable.
We knew she was gaining confidence when she actually volunteered to participate in one of the Gender Stereotypes Skits. However, when she was given her script she immediately began to cry because she couldn’t read the words. In an effort to help ease her anxiety, the Program Delivery Specialist assured her that they would read her part together. Carmen dried her tears and began to read.
At the next session, the girls pretended they were journalists and interviewed their peers, asking them what careers and college majors they were interested in. Once again, when it was Carmen’s turn, she sat in the chair, shy and with her head down.
We encouraged Carmen to complete the interview in both English and in Spanish. She agreed. Although shy at first, Carmen ultimately did the interview in English. She sat up as straight as she could with her head held high, shoulders back and she spoke loud and proud. She followed the directions and without warning started laughing with joy and relief. This was totally out of character for Carmen! After she regained her composure, she continued asking interview questions, in English, with very little assistance from the Las Mariposas Program Delivery Specialist or her peers.
Consequently, Carmen’s peers and the Mariposa leaders were very proud of her because she displayed courage outside of her cocoon, thus revealing a very beautiful butterfly.