On Wednesday 21st the Multilingual Programs Department collaborated with Westside High School to provide guidance and assistance during the Newcomer Orientation Session where fifty-seven students from twenty-one countries and five continents met key staff members on campus and learned about attendance, safety, security, health, graduation requirements and the American school structure.
During the first minutes, the students from 9th and 10th grade shared a group activity where they had to write ‘Hello’ in as many languages they knew as possible. After the icebreaker -and during recess-, Multilingual Programs Department got the change to speak with some of them about their life and expectations in their new ‘home country’ and this is what they mentioned:
“What worries me the most, is being late to class,” says Yoshiki Zaitsu a 16-year-old freshman that arrived five moths ago from Tokio, Japan. He explains that in his country he had ten minutes to go from one class to the other; “here, I only have five minutes. That’s why I have to hurry, but I like it here, although it’s hard to understand and speak English, but I try to enjoy it.” And he sure has, since school started, he has made friends, one of them also comes from Asia.
Like Yoshiki, Edwin Charles Chibuike -who at 15 years of age is almost 6 feet tall- arrived recently to Houston from Imo State, Nigeria. His main goal is to graduate and go to college. At least that’s what he spoke aloud every time Multilingual’s Outreach workers asked what students should do after graduating, “go to college,” he would say. As he sees it, “with the access to technology and all of these resources, it will be very possible to achieve. But I know I have to work hard to get there.”
And that is no different thinking for Serge Ngabo from Rwanda, David Junior from Gabon, Halina Ramadhan and Moluzinga Hasan from Somalia and Mercia Mayela, Christian Nizeyimana, Durcas, David and Daniel Bachunguye from Congo.
This group of adolescents from the African Continent when asked directly if they have in their goals to attend College they respond in unison: “Yes!” followed by a great smile. “We have to take advantage -says Durcas-because in Congo, for example, education is a privilege. You have to pay and that costs a lot of money.” For Halima, a 16-year-old Somali, that is not the only disadvantage; in her country “teachers have the right to hit students, and I’m so relieved that is not the case here.”
At Westside High School, these 57 newcomer students -from Angola, Bolivia, Brazil, Congo, Cuba, El Salvador, France, Gabon, Guatemala, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japon, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, Turkey and Venezuela- have arrived with few belongings but with tons of enthusiasm and dreams. All of them have one set goal in common: grow as individuals and develop academically and professionally and, most importantly, they have no doubt that with the support of HISD and its staff members and departments they have a key to unlock that treasure chest.