On March 6th, high school students from all over the state visited Western Oregon University for the 25th Annual César E. Chávez Leadership Conference (CECLC). The Portland Timbers partnered with the conference to provide raffle items, created a video featuring Jorge Villafaña and Diego Chara and handed out Somos Timbers bilingual booklets presenting information on health, culture and soccer. In addition, the Timbers announced the winners of the Bilingual Reporter program at the conference.
The Somos Timbers program, established in 2011, is the Portland Timbers’ Latino platform to engage the community. Somos Timbers is committed to focusing on the issues that are important to the community, such as youth development, education and health.
The CECLC is the largest Latino high school student event in Oregon. The students are presented the opportunity to attend the college/university fair, participate in leadership workshops and listen to inspiring keynote speakers. This year’s conference was the largest in history and marked a significant 25th anniversary milestone, calling for a distinguished keynote speaker. And who better to deliver the address than Dolores Huerta, labor leader and civil rights activist who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association with César Chávez.
“To commemorate the 25 year anniversary we looked for someone who can speak to the legacy of Cesar E. Chavez, a nationally recognized leader in the Latino community, who values education, and supports social justice and access,” explained David Martinez, César E. Chávez Leadership Conference Chair. “She believed in Cesar’s philosophy of non-violence and continues her life-long mission of equity and access for all individuals. At 84 she does not slow down. Students and families can relate to her mission, background and are inspired by her work ethic.”
72 schools and over 1,850 students, volunteers, staff, exhibitors and special guests attended the César E. Chávez Leadership Conference this year.
- Somos Timbers: Bilingual Reporter Program
“The partnership with the Portland Timbers motivates students, provides an example of discipline, dedication and how to be a leader," said Martinez. "When connecting with students it’s important to find ways to relate and motivate."
The Bilingual Reporter program is designed to promote bilingualism among local Latino high school students through professional interview opportunities with Timbers and Thorns FC players. Students submit written essays and are nominated by their teachers. Four students were announced at the conference and will have the opportunity to write a bilingual article after interviewing the player of their choice. The Timbers will post the articles along with videos of the interviews in both English and Spanish on Timbers.com. The winners this year are Jesse Escalona of Woodburn High School, Sergio Lopez Sanchez of Woodburn Academy of Art, Science & Technology, Emily Lara of Tualatin School District and Suleyma Rubio-Tello of Forest Grove High School.
“Soccer and specifically the Portland Timbers are part of the community, bringing people together and the Reportero program values and honors speaking Spanish," said Martinez. "The message of being bilingual and maintaining your language is one of the values of the CECLC. The Reportero Program is a great model for students.”
“The Timbers can teach kids the importance of discipline, work ethic, and community," added Martinez. "It’s not just about being competitive and having skills and abilities, it’s about teamwork and supporting each other. These are valuable traits students can aspire to."