Manchester's Franco-American Centre kicked off a new summer program for French-speaking immigrant children this week.
Eight young Haitian-Americans participated in day three of "Camp Bienvenue." Thursday they went to go see “Wizard of Oz” at the Palace Theater, but participant Angela Cenesca said, earlier in the week the focus was sports. "We went to the baseball, the Fisher Cats stadium," she said.
Counselor Abby Snarski said trips to the Palace or the Currier Museum, while fun for her too, are important cultural experiences for her young campers.
“The Palace produces really great plays and could possibly inspire them to get into theater when they’re older,” said Snarski. “Or maybe the Currier could inspire them to become artists.”
One of the goals of the camp is to familiarize young immigrants with resources in the city, while also helping them improve their English skills. Most participants speak French or Creole at home.
But organizers said they hope the camp will have yet another effect: bringing the community together.
"Especially for what's going on with the media these days... They say immigrants are like the lowest things, but we are doing great things," said Lamienne Faverdieu, a Plymouth State University student and an intern with the Franco-American Centre who also came to the U.S. from Haiti.
“The Franco-American Centre promotes the French Canadian heritage and that’s an immigrant story,” said FACNH Executive Director John Tousignant. “So we feel it’s important for the Franco-American Centre to show that the immigrant experience in the country is not as negative as it’s sometimes made out to be.”
The Centre hopes to bring the camp back next year and expand it beyond Manchester.