Student Forums
A journal of social practice & professional engagement for the Antioch community

Speaking Their Language: Christopher Thompson ‘24 at Buen Dia Family School in San Francisco, California

Buen Dia Family School is a Spanish-English bilingual preschool with an arts-based curriculum in the Mission District of San Francisco, California. This is where I’m doing my second co-op. And what a place it is! There are few things as simultaneously tumultuous and gratifying as working with young children. Every day, it feels like I am discovering a new way to make a tremendous mess. Just yesterday, I caught a kid attempting to pour sand into my back pocket. And yet, I feel so pleased with the growth I’ve seen in just a small amount of time.

A birthday present made for me by a student

I’ve always thought it was cliche when a teacher says their students teach them just as much as they do the reverse, but in just a few weeks I’ve come to realize that it really is the truth. As an undergrad with a focus on foreign languages, I feel especially enlightened by the process of language acquisition that I’ve observed in my time at Buen Dia. More than half of the children are from multilingual households, most of which are Spanish-speaking (though some speak Japanese, Farsi, Italian, etc.). It’s both amusing and illuminating observing three- to five-year-olds juggle multiple languages as they learn to express themselves and their ideas. For example, one younger child calls the moon “la moona,” and to request help, he often says “I want ayuda.” It honestly reminds me of the English-Arabic combination my older cousins speak to each other. Their father is Syrian and their mother is American, and they grew up in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, frequently visiting family in both Safita and Indiana. They’re all grown men now in their thirties, but when they speak to each other they still have a very unique sort of personal pidgin that they share.  

Japanese learning materials I made for group time

Even monolingual children have their own unique language. Not just in terms of verbal communication, but with body language and recurrent behaviors, too. It’s so important to recognize and understand the ways in which each individual child expresses their feelings and needs because every single one is different. So far, this co-op has really driven that lesson home, and I’ve been building meaningful relationships with each of the 29 kids at Buen Dia. Some slower than others, but none less important. It makes me wish I had more than just eleven weeks to spend with them, but even if I stayed, many of them are heading off to kindergarten next fall. I guess that’s part of being a teacher — every year there’s a new class and it’s up to you to make your time together meaningful. Well, so far so good. 
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<p class="p1">Hello, my name is Frank Adam Fortino. I am in my fourth and final year at Antioch College, and on track to graduate with a Liberal Arts bachelor's degree in art focused in media studies. I have spent my college career thus far, as well as my past three co-ops studying the art that is film and video making; from its history to actually creating works myself.</p> <p class="p1">I have worked for filmmakers such as Rea Tajiri (Philadelphia) and Ken Burns (Walpole, New Hampshire) who have helped me gain better understandings of the documentary form, as well as story telling in general. I have travelled to far places (Andros Island in the Bahamas) with film equipment I had to sneak in my pants to carry it aboard an overweight plane.</p> <p class="p1">I have studied and worked with found footage, animation, and essayistic forms. I have researched the links between avant-garde and conventional filmmaking (comparing Maya Derren to Christopher Nolan and <i>Sherlock Jr.</i> to <i>Un Chien Andalou</i>) and have grown very fond of experimental tactics used to convey stories through film and video.</p> <p class="p1">To highlight my passion and excitement for film, I will be organizing and hosting a film festival called <i>30(ish) Frames Per Second: A Yellow Springs Film Festival</i> ( in June of 2017. For the festival, we will be celebrating works with essayistic qualities that deal with social justice issues in some capacity.</p> <p class="p1">Along with my ever-growing fascination for movies and media, I have a strong connection to the ideal of living off of the food I grow myself, in a home that is self-sustaining, and harmless to the environment. To realize this, for my final co-op I have travelled to West Ireland to glasraí farms to live and work with a family who has very similar ideals to my own. They are teaching my how to farm, and live sustainably, and in return, I use the skills they teach me on their farm. Along with immersing myself in a culture different from my own, I am learning skills that will follow me beyond the classroom, and into the way I want to live my life.</p>

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