THIS STORY WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN SPANISH AND IS WRITTEN BY DOUGLAS PEÑA, STAFF WRITER ’18. IT WAS TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH BY THE BUCCANEER AND RBR SPANISH TEACHER YNGRID SCANLON.
TO READ THIS STORY IN SPANISH, CLICK HERE.
Poverty and the presence of gangs and crimes have forced many Latin Americans (Hispanics) to leave their families; culture; lifestyles; and much more behind. All this with the hope of a better life for their kids a place where they can watch them grow, without the fear that crime and the gangs will end their lives prematurely.
For this reason, countries like the United States become the refuge of hope, a place that can offer a future, a dream, and a life. The situation in these countries is so dangerous that some parents not only risk their lives but that of their children, sending them out of the country at a very young age. But the story does not end once you get here. It is but the beginning of a long transition, as these kids have to learn a new form of communication including Spanish.
Many others come to the United States at an age in which learning a second language is not easy. Let’s not forget that many have never had a formal education. There are many young people between the ages of 10 and 19 who have never been to a school, and when they arrive in the United States and enter the schools, the shock is so dramatic that many do not reach the final goal. Learning English is a long process that can last between one to five years, not including the lack of basic education to complete the school’s curriculum.
Put yourself in the shoes of these young people. Imagine that you come to a place where your language is not spoken; where you cannot express your opinion or have a conversation with other students who do not speak your own language. How would you feel? This is what RBR Latinos live, every day. In a recent survey on this topic, 36 ELL students, who arrived in the last 5 years, were asked “if they had any knowledge of English before arriving in the United States.” The result was very surprising: Of 36 students only 3 students had knowledge of English. In another it was found out that of 36 students only 33 still have problems with expressing their opinion. In another survey they were asked “if the first day of school in the United States was more difficult or the same as in their country of origin. Twenty-two students from the thirty-six respondents said yes and the others said that it was the same in their home countries.
These results are a sample of how Latinos feel in a country like the United States; these young people strive to overcome not only language barriers, but also the dream of living with dignity in a safe and better place.
*The Buccaneer would like to thank Señora Scanlon for her tremendous help with editing and proofreading this piece.