Bridging Divides Between Language Learners

July 27, 2023
Romy Greenwald

Santa Barbara, California, USA

Class of 2023

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Hi, I'm Romy Greenwald and I was involved with BBYO throughout high school where I attended both regional and international events. I also went to Israel for the first time with BBYO! I had such a fantastic experience that I went back and did a gap semester in Tel Aviv.

I was recently awarded $36,000 from the Helen Diller Family Foundation’s Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards for the program I started, MiSendero.

MiSendero, is a student-run non-profit student-run non-profit that helps English learners integrate at school as leaders. The name "MiSendero'' means 'my path' in Spanish, and it represents my family's journey from Mexico and Cuba to the United States, overcoming various challenges along the way.

My mother was placed into an English learning program when she started elementary school. Her experience sparked my interest in helping other Latin American immigrants facing similar language barriers. I grew up speaking Spanish as my first language and have always felt connected to immigrant students from Latin America. However, I noticed that English learners often found themselves in separate classes and didn't have many opportunities to practice speaking with native speakers. This realization became the foundation for creating MiSendero.

Across California, there are over 1.1 million English learners, and there are more than 5 million of them in public schools nationwide. Unfortunately, most of the time, English learners are seen as students who need help, rather than potential leaders.

MiSendero does things differently. We turn the challenges faced by English learners into strengths. By using their native Spanish-speaking skills, they become tutors and leaders, while also earning community service hours that count towards graduation.

So far, we've positively affected the lives of over 1,000 students, and our program is now integrated into high schools in California and Florida. I plan to continue to expand the organization and find new ways to impact students as I transition to college in the Fall. As part of the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards, I get to connect with the other award recipients. I am excited for this opportunity to meet other young Jewish leaders and find ways to collaborate through our different organizations. 

I'm really grateful to everyone who has supported MiSendero's journey. For more information about MiSendero, visit the website and Instagram @misenderoyouth.

Each year, the Helen Diller Family Foundation recognizes up to 15 extraordinary Jewish teenagers from across the United States with an award of $36,000 each to honor their initiatives to help change the world. Learn more at

Romy Greenwald was involved with BBYO throughout high school attending both regional and international events. She also went to Israel for the first time with BBYO!

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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