Bilingual Peer Mentor Spotlight: Emily


This school year has seen our bilingual programming flourish at an unprecedented rate. Emily is one of the amazing Peer Mentors who has allowed our bilingual programming to excel this year. We sat down with Emily, our first Portuguese language bilingual Peer Mentor, to ask her a little bit about her work with the NAN Project.

  • What made you want to work with the NAN Project

“I wanted to work with the NAN Project because they were tabling at my school’s self-care fair. I went up to the table and heard about their mission and I thought it was really inspiring and I wanted to be a part of something like that”

  • Can you tell me about how your cultural background connects to your mental health?

“I feel like being able to have a community that I can connect with and that shares beliefs and similar experiences was extremely important. Having that connection and feeling like a part of something gave me a sense of belonging that soothed me.”

  • Do you notice that students connect more when you tell your story in Portuguese? 

“For sure. One time after presenting, this group of girls came up to me and said, ‘We were listening to the other stories and it’s nice to hear, but we couldn’t really relate to them. Then when you told your story, it’s something that we feel like we can relate to and it touched us.’ I feel like my Comeback Story is really a story of hope, so I feel they gained a sense of hope from hearing how I turned out. It’s nice to see people feeling represented.”

  • Have you received any student questions or comments that especially stuck out to you?

“One time there was a card that said someone had been going through a similar experience as me, with having a family member deported. They asked for advice on how to cope with that. That moment was really deep for me. It made me reflect and recall that experience and was something that remained in the back of my mind. When that came back up, I thought ‘Oh wow,’ Sometimes you forget you even lived through the things in your story. So, having the chance to remember how I overcame that time in my life was a special experience.”

  • Does it feel telling your story in English vs Portuguese?

“It definitely feels different. In Portuguese, it’s a unique way of expressing myself. Some things in English can feel more cold, whereas in Portuguese it can feel warmer and stronger”

  • How do you think hearing a bilingual NAN Project presentation would have affected you as a kid?

“It would have helped me because we always hear stories of perseverance and overcoming adversity, but when a story is directly related to

 your cultural experiences, it’s a whole different experience. The immigrant experience, and being an immigrant in America, is an entirely unique genre. There are so many different feelings and it’s a cultural experience with the different challenges we see across different stories. If I heard a story like that, I would feel a greater sense of hope to see that someone else has been through it and they’re still okay today.”

  • What advice would you give to yourself as a younger kid?

“I would tell myself that it gets better and that you’re not always gonna feel weird in your own skin and so insecure. I thought I was going to

 feel a sense of hopelessness, like things were always going to be that way. But, it does get better and you learn and grow and things truly get better.”

  • What are your plans for the future?

“My end goal is to be a psychologist so I’m always looking for opportunities, whether it’s job opportunities or volunteering or internships. Anything that can give me more experience working in the mental health field. I plan on doing medical interpreting and will finish my Portuguese interpretation training in January. My job as an interpreter is going to be in medical settings and I will be facilitating communication between medical providers and patients”

Join our mailing listJoin Now

Emergency Help - Suicide Prevention Lifeline 988