Samantha Suazo

Samantha Suazo, a Latina, receiving her Covid vaccine at the Big Sky Medical Center. PHOTO COURTESY SAMANTHA SUAZO

My vaccine experience

Two weeks ago I turned 18 and along with the excitement of this important date, there was better news. I was now eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine because I am Latina; in Montana Latinos and other people of color are priority groups for receiving the shots because we are more vulnerable to the virus.

On the top left corner is 11th grade student at LPHS Samantha Suazo, on the top right corner is journalist Barbara Rowley, below on the left is 10th grade Discovery Academy student Annel Garcia, and on the right is Big Sky community Liaison, Samantha Riley. PHOTO COURTESY OF SAMANTHA SUAZO

Announcing: Montaña Noticias

This week I am completing two months of writing about Latino life in the Big Sky area. I have again and again learned about three crucial factors which impact the Latino experience: the power of connection, the lack of information, and the challenge of communication.

Mi casa, tu casa

Housing is one of the most difficult issues for all non-home owners in Big Sky, and Latinos experience this problem even more intensely. Language barriers for renters and landlords alike make this already difficult process a struggle.

Group of ELL Students from the Big Sky School district with one of their ELL coordinators Samantha Riley. PHOTO COURTESY OF SAMANTHA RILEY

English language struggles

The Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 requires that all school districts “take action to ensure equal participation for everyone including removing language barriers for ELL (English Language Learner) students.” As a result, all U.S.

Jose Azel lives partially in Big Sky and Miami, the months that he is not in the country he is with his family traveling the world. PHOTO COURTESY OF JOSE AZEL

Jose Azel’s story is our story

Jose Azel, a successful journalist, and author who lives part-time in Big Sky and part-time in Miami is a role-model for first-generation Latinos who have sought and found safe refuge in the United States and a way to contribute to both their nation of origin and their new adoptive country.

Samantha Riley plans on staying as Discovery’s liaison for the long run. She loves helping the community, and being able to connect with Latino families. PHOTO COURTESY SAMANTHA RILEY

Community liaison position created

A decade ago, Samantha Riley knew absolutely nothing about Honduras or Latino culture in general when she made a spontaneous decision that changed everything. "I honestly just found ‘Students Helping Honduras’ online and decided to go on the program completely randomly. I didn't realize it would mold the rest of my life.”

Lost without translation

Aranza De La Torre arrived in Big Sky four years ago completely unable to speak English. Google Translate and her English-speaking husband were De La Torre’s only methods of communication. Until recently, she worked at the Big Sky Post Office where she was able to provide translation for others.

Julio and Nora Garcia plan to continue living in Big Sky along with the tranquility of nature. PHOTO COURTESY OF SAMANTHA SUAZO

Hola Amigos!

I was 12 years old when I arrived in Big Sky with my parents. My family had just arrived from Honduras, escaping the violence there, and I remember being the only Spanish speaker and the only person with a different skin color in my 4th-grade class.

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