“Who can tell me how to say this?” 15-year-old Danny Villalobos points to a Japanese character on the screen. The Kelly Walsh High School sophomore is standing in front of a group of kids whose average age is probably no more than 8. Sharing his passion for languages of the world, Danny is introducing his love of Japanese in a newly formed Language Club at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming.
“Many kids are sheltered from a global perspective and I want to show them there is more to this world than their limited experience in Casper, Wyoming,” said Danny.
Danny grew up in a Spanish speaking household and has been bilingual his whole life. He’s added three more languages to his repertoire over the past five years. He considers himself fluent in Spanish and conversational in Japanese and Chinese. Danny most recently began to study Korean. His goal is to eventually study and learn Russian, Italian, Portuguese, and French. Even though he is currently enrolled in a Japanese class at school, all of the languages he knows and speaks are self-taught through the internet.
Now he’s passing on his knowledge to young learners at the Boys & Girls Clubs three days a week with his Language Club. As a Teen Club member and the 2014-15 BGCCW Youth of the Year, Danny organized a plan and brought the idea of starting the Language Club to his director.
“I think any time we can empower our kids to take on a leadership role, we need to embrace that and encourage them to step up. I was impressed with Danny’s proposal and passion to bring his love of language to the Club,” said Gary Nupp, Teen Club director.
Danny uses online resources to bring fun lessons to the kids. He’s incorporating songs and worksheets to reinforce the ideas presented in each lesson. To further immerse the young minds in the culture, Danny would like to take field trips or invite guests to speak to the Club.
“It’s much easier to learn a new language when you are young. They tend to be more excited about learning new words and being able to say things their friends can’t,” explains Danny.
The Language Club meets Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. It is offered at no cost to BGCCW members ages 7 and older.