Coming to America for an Education

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OT came to us earlier this year from El Salvador.  He is an unaccompanied minor and is now living with an uncle.  Soon after he got here, he drew some very graphic pictures of a man and woman (complete with correct genitalia) having sex.  When the teacher saw the pictures, she headed straight to our AP with the child.  As the AP was trying to get to the bottom of the story, OT broke out in tears.  In El Salvador, he had been forced to watch women be gang raped.  He’s 13.  13……    His mother knew that the only way to save her son from the gangs was to get him out.

WR is also a newcomer at my school this year.  She’s from Guatemala.  She lived in a detention camp for over a year before she and her mother made it to GA.  Many days, she’s overwhelmed by the amount of information she’s required to learn, and just shuts down.  But, we let her know that we love her and keep pushing.  She’s slowing coming around.

SR came to us in 2012 from Syria (she was placed in 3rd grade).  She came with her mother and lived in GA with her mother and aunt.   She didn’t speak much about her homeland.  I spoke to her mother about 8 months after they had been here, because fighting in Syria was heavy and I didn’t know if she had family still there.  She had to leave 2 older sons in Syria to come here for the safety of herself and SR.  Over the years they were at my school, SR and her mother took numerous trips to Immigration in NY, and finally were able to get her brothers here to the US.  There was never any mention of a father.

KK and her sister came to us in 2011.  Her parents were Russian born and had been living in the states for quite a few years.  Her older brothers both went to Tech (smart kids!).  Her parents realized that they wanted to open their home to orphans- which is where KK and her sister enter the picture.  Orphans in Russia have a very negative stigma attached to them, and many times they end up on the streets.  So, the parents adopted KK and her sister and they came to us pretty much as soon as they were in the country- no English, and not even having the same alphabet.  Thankfully, the parents spoke Russian and were very interested in getting a good education for their girls, so they helped them at home as much as possible.  Both girls exited ESOL after a few years and are thriving in school right now.

-J.Long

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