Beginning a New Life in America

Beginning a New Life in America

Siena Zarrell, Staff Writer

The first day of school is always a little bit scary. You haven’t seen a lot of your friends since the last school year, your schedule is unsure, and some of your new classes may be hard to find. Now imagine that you actually don’t have any friends to look forward to seeing, you don’t know any of your teachers or the locations of your classes, and you’re completely new to the country. That makes everything at least ten times harder! Yet it just happens to be what these students have faced.

photo taken by Siena Zarrell
Photo by Siena Zarrell

Jane Escolano, 9

Marikina, Philippines

Q: When did you move?

A: Sixth grade.

Q:Why did you move?

A: I moved because my mom works here, and I came with my two brothers.

Q: What was your biggest fear about moving to a different country?

A: Speaking the language and [meeting] new people.

Q: Is there anything that is completely different, here in America, that threw you off?

A: Yeah, it’s just the way people interact. It’s completely different [because people do not make] many plans where I came from.

Q: Was America exactly like you pictured or different?

A: It’s not exactly but I had seen movies so it’s half and half.

Q: What was the hardest thing to leave behind?

A: Friends, definitely, and my things.

Q: Did you have to catch up in school?

A: I was actually ahead in school. I was in private school. [The schooling] was more private there. Here, public school is not a big deal. But there, the difference between public and private is a big deal.

Q: Was it hard to make new friends?

A: Ya, I guess, everyone already knew a lot of people from going to school.

Q: Do you ever revisit or plan to move back?

A: Not yet, not in the three years that I have been here. And probably not because I like it here.

Q: What have you learned from this experience?

A: To adapt and make the most of situations. It’s all about having the right attitude.

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Photo by Min Ju Kang

John Asmarian, 12

Syria

Q: When did you move?

A: I moved three years ago.

Q:Why did you move?

A: I moved because of the ongoing war.

Q: What was your biggest fear about moving to a different country?

A: Not adapting to the culture here, and I was worried about my family’s financial situation.

Q: Is there anything that is completely different, here in America, that threw you off?

A: The language.

Q: What was the hardest thing to leave behind?

A: My family and friends.

Q: Did you have to catch up in school?

A: Yes, I had to repeat 9th grade twice; once in Syria and once here.

Q: Do you ever revisit or plan to move back?

A: I would like to revisit but not move back.

Q: What have you learned from this experience?

A: To be tough and always fight for life.

Photo by Siena Zarrell
Photo by Siena Zarrell

Lauren Pritchard, 10

Sydney, Australia

Q: When did you move?

A: Freshman year.

Q:Why did you move?

A: My dad got a promotion and my whole family moved.

Q: What was your biggest fear about moving to a different country?

A: Probably the school and all of the people; it’s really big.

Q: Is there anything that is completely different, here in America, that threw you off?

A: The school is very different. All of the different classes are very big. At my old school, we only had all of K-12, 300 students. [Which is about 23 students per class and one class per grade.]

Q: Was America exactly like you pictured or different?

A: Kind of both; I knew from TV but, you know, that’s basically it.

Q: What was the hardest thing to leave behind?

A: My friends.

Q: Did you have to catch up in school?

A: I was a year and a half behind from this school.

Q: Do you ever revisit or plan to move back?

A: No, but we might [revisit] this summer. Yes, after I graduate [we will move back].

Q: What have you learned from this experience?

A: That there’s a lot of different cultures and well, they’re all kind of different and the same.

Q: Are there actually large spiders in Australia, or is it a myth?

A: Yes there are, you can often find them in your house.

The diversity we have here at West Ranch is what sets our school apart. We are so lucky to have such great students with these exceptional experiences that they are willing to share with us. Having this variety of ethnicities, cultures, and beliefs prepares us for the future. Learning to respect others despite our differences is an important life lesson that we have been fortunate enough to learn during our high school years.