Fluente, a program that offers classes where newly-immigrated Hispanic Americans can learn English and begin transitioning into the community, will be partnering with the Florida Institute for Reform and Empowerment (F.I.R.E.) on their next eight-week run of classes.

The Fluente classes usually focus on general conversation practice for those wanting to learn both English and Spanish, but this year’s will also have an additional focus on voting and social justice, with the larger goal being to foster a unity in the Orlando area between two cultures.

The goal is to push more of a social justice message, encourage foreign language voters to go out and vote and help people new to the country learn more about its political system and issues. In this election, F.I.R.E. thinks it’s a worthwhile cause, according to Climate Justice Organizer and Latino Outreach coordinator Michelle Suarez.

“We want to help them start to navigate the system here,” she said. “They come here from Latin America without the knowledge of how our political system works or what the issues are. Elections dictate the future, and people need to start knowing how to be a part of change.”

Athena Montes, Communications Coordinator for F.I.R.E., said the partnership was one born out of the high stakes of this election season.

“There’s so much at risk,” she said. “We have to build a bridge for those who have moved to Central Florida in the last few years. We have to help them speak for themselves.”

Montes said there was a lack of alignment between new citizens and the community, which the Fluente classes would hopefully address.

Jose Luis Marantes, founder of Fluente, said the classes would help heal the rift in a polarized time for America.

“This can help us be the country we really aspire to be,” he said. “We can come across culture and race. It can be an example of the greatest potential and dispel the myth of how divided we are.”

The classes start Thursday, Sept. 22, at the El Centro Borinqueno (Acacia) at 1865 N. Econlockhatchee Trail.

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