05/29/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

University of Minnesota French Students Help Adopted Haitian Girls In School

Two young Haitian girls, Auddy and Islande, were living in an orphanage waiting to be adopted by Minnesota couple Don and Tamela Sperr, when the January 12 earthquake struck. In the aftermath of the disaster, Haitian authorities sped up the adoption process, quickly sending Auddy and Islande to their new home.

Now, the two girls are adjusting to life -- and school -- in their new Minnesota environment. Fourteen French students at the neighboring University of Minnesota have volunteered their time to help the girls adjust to their new surroundings and overcome the language barrier in the classroom. The students attend fourth grade alongside Auddy and Islande, helping them learn English and using French/Creole to bypass the communication gaps.

"It's nice for the students; it's good for them to reach out," said Sarah Buchanan, UMM French professor. "They get to use their French in a meaningful way, but more importantly, they like to contribute and make a difference in the community."