Allyson Abarca (left) and her daughter Josefa Tapia Abarca
RIGBY — Josefa Tapia Abarca is learning firsthand that dedication and hard work pays off.
The 15-year-old Rigby High School student recently qualified to compete in a state debate competition.
“I don’t think I really saw myself necessarily being a part of it but I am really excited for it,” said Josefa.
Josefa is from Santiago, Chile. Her first language is Spanish and she has come a long way. She moved to Idaho four years ago, not knowing much of the English language.
“I didn’t know English at all except for the basics like how to say, ‘house’ and “window,’” she says.
Her mother, Allyson, teaches Spanish and Spanish immersion classes at Rigby High School to ninth-grade students. She is happy for her daughter and grateful to those who have helped her along the way.
“I remember when we just came here, one of the teachers (at Rigby Middle School) didn’t speak Spanish but she was using Google translate to give some materials to Josefa in order for her to succeed and I know that’s very important,” Allyson said. “All the support she has received at the school from the teachers — they have always seen her as a person who is capable to do things. They don’t look at her as a Chilean girl that just came here. They just see her as another student.”
Josefa started doing debate this year at Rigby High School after several years of learning English. She says the language has been getting easier.
“It is a requirement for graduation at our school and I really liked it and then just started going to the tournaments,” Josefa said. “The team (is my favorite part of debate). It’s really fun learning your case and getting all the evidence you need and just having group meetings to practice or add more prep to whatever it is you are doing.”
Josefa qualified for the Idaho High School 2022 Debate State Championships with her partner. The Idaho High School Activities Association runs the event and will be held on Friday and Saturday in Meridian at Mountain View High School.
Josefa is looking forward to the competition and added that she has goals that she’d like to accomplish in the future.
“One day, I want to learn at least three languages. I want to learn French,” she said.
Rigby High School Speech and Debate team
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