Latino Assimilation To the Harriton Community
January 17, 2017 • 186 views
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Here at Harriton exists a small yet vibrant Latino community. Sophomore Kevin Matamoros, immigrated to the United States from Honduras two years ago when he was in Middle School. The challenges he faced were not just the typical ones that other newcomers to a new school experience.
He had to leave behind his family and his country, learn a new language, and manage new school work on top of it all. This interview, which has been translated from Spanish, shows his determination to adapt and improve his future through education. His story highlights the great support he has felt from teachers and friends in Harriton community.
HB: Where did you live before coming to the United States?
KM: I lived in Honduras in the state of Comayagua. It was a great place as I had many friends. I feel happy that one day I can return there.
HB: Can you describe what the place was like? Was it the country or a large city?
KM: The place was a small town like Bryn Mawr. The place obviously wasn’t as luxurious as Bryn Mawr but it was a quiet and calm area where one could enjoy many activities that here you can’t do.
HB: Can you name some of those activities?
KM: Well my friends and I would play with fireworks and it was never a problem. Here you can’t do that. It was fun but you had to be careful because you don’t want to burn your hands.
HB: Why did you and your family come to the United States?
KM: I remember when my mother and father sat me down to tell me. They said that we were going to come here so I could have a better education. It was very special for me because I had to opportunity to come to this country to study.
HB: Was Harriton the first school you attended after coming to the U.S?
KM: No. I first went to Welsh Valley. I arrived not speaking English very well. The first days were difficult, but I tried to get better and understand the things that I needed to. The school was helpful and assisted me to help learn English.
HB: Did all of your family come to this country or did any of them remain there?
KM: Half of my family came and the other half stayed since they didn’t want to come here. I along with my family that came here miss everyone at home. However, one day I hope to return and see them again and be together.
HB: Were you scared of the language barrier you would have to face coming here?
KM: Yes. I was scared that I would not be connected with others and lose that capability. I did not have the idea of English being very hard but that changed quickly. I had to learn it fast so that I would be able to catch up in school. I also had to make new friends and I was worried about how I would communicate with them.
HB: What were your first impressions upon arriving at Harriton?
KM: It was very impressive. In my country there aren’t as many public schools so high in quality like there are here. I like how supportive the teachers are here and the ways in which they help us. All of them are incredibly good natured, something that I feel very grateful for.
HB: What was the biggest difference between your old school and Harriton?
KM: My teachers put more emphasis on learning a trade rather than education in all subjects. In my country, many people have jobs in manual labor beginning with the training in school. We also didn’t have the advanced technology that students are exposed to here.
HB: What do you miss most about Honduras?
KM: I miss my family and how I could spend time with them everyday. I really wish I could just talk with them in person on a daily basis. It’s hard to be away.
HB: What do you like most about Harriton?
KM: I love the form in which teachers educate students and the ability to have a better future here. I also love how accepting everyone is of different cultures.
HB: Would you say there is a Latino community here at Harriton? If there is, how is it?
KM: Definitely. Here there are a lot of teachers and students that are Latino. They all come from different places, mainly being Honduras or Mexico. For many students it is hard to assimilate to the culture here at first, but teachers help to make the process easier.
HB: Do you like that there is a Latino community?
KM: Yes! You can share the culture with people and it makes being here everyday more familiar and comfortable. You can go and talk to them and even though there are differences in where people come from, we are able to share a common background.
HB: That’s great that there is a Latino community, but does it make it harder to integrate into the Harriton community as a whole?
KM: No. Harriton has older and mature students, making it easier to come here and adapt. In middle school it was much harder as everyone was younger and less open and more immature.
HB: Are there certain teachers that have helped you through this adaptation process? Who are they?
KM: Well yes there are many. Senora Thomas is always encouraging us, Senora Padilla emphasizes the importance of speaking in English for my future, and Mr. Mellor, my math teacher, is very funny and capable at making the class fun, motivating us to work and enjoy being in class.
HB: Do you have any future plans after Harriton?
KM: Like all students here at Harriton, I want to attend college, graduate and get a good job for my family. That is something very important to me. I want my children to have my life as a model to follow, so they can achieve success in their lives too.
HB: If you could return to Honduras, would you? Why?
KM: I would not return. I would not be able to have the amazing education and future that I have here.
HB: What advice would you give to a foreign student that has recently come to Harriton?
KM: My advice would be to not give up speaking in English. Even if there is a community that offers the chance to speak in your first language, it is essential to get comfortable talking in English. It makes the transition here much easier as communication is the key to everything.