The challenge of not being from here or from there

Immigrant students at HEHS go through a lot of struggles such as being in a new country and learning a new language.

Cindi Perez, Staff Writer

Even though HEHS is one of the most diverse high schools in Illinois, those who make it diverse often cannot even speak English.

“I think I have learned to respect immigrants especially teenagers because they come here not knowing the language and they have to learn the language in four years and take classes with Americans students,” said Nancy Melton, ESL TA.

Teenagers have the hardest time adapting to a new school and a new language. At Hoffman Estates High School it is a lot easier because there is a great diversity of students from all backgrounds and ethnicities.

“I love that I get to learn another language and culture and be in another person’s place,” said Valeria Marquez, a sophomore, who is from Venezuela.

The HEHS staff is very helpful and can make school feel like home or a place where students can express your thoughts and feelings. There’s a diversity of people that you can fit in with.

“Teachers are more understanding and it’s more of a supportive system,” said Shalom Lakew, a senior, who is from Ethiopia.

Immigrant students and staff, have a lot of good experiences. For example, opening their mind about other opportunities they have and about other cultures.

“Because we are so different it gives us opportunity to grow and [accept differences],” said Nancy Melton.

“When you come here your mind grows and you have more knowledge,” said Lakew.

There are a lot of advantages Americans have as citizens, but immigrant people lose them as soon as they step in a foreign country. Some Americans take the advantages they have for granted.

“There are a lot of advantages you lose as an immigrant,” said Lakew.  

Another challenge that most teenager immigrants have is that they leave their life behind in the country they are from or used to live. They have to start again.

“It was very sad because I don’t like leaving my friends and family,” said Sam Cruz a sophomore student that came from the Philippines just about three months ago. “I don’t have a lot of family [here] just my parents and siblings.”

Even some HEHS staff had to go through all this. For example, Katelyn Cho that came from South Korea, is a very respected ESL teacher. She came here when she was just 12 years. This changes the way she approaches her job everyday.

“One thing that I like about the school being so diverse is about how I can relate with them because I went through the same thing,” said Cho. “One of the challenge I have faced in the educational career is that I feel different, I feel like I am more Korean than American.”

Immigrants have a lot of things to worry about like adapting and learning the language. It is amazing how can one school unite so many people from countries all over the world and different backgrounds.