Salam is a student in Blair who is from Ethiopia. When she came to U.S. at the age of 16, she remembers she had a hard time when she started school at Blair. In her first weeks of school in U.S., it was scary for her and she felt alone. “My first day was pretty long. I was confused,“ Salam said.
Getting around was difficult in the big school. The language was a serious problem for her too.” I couldn’t find my class. When I thought to ask people, the English was really hard,” she said.
Salam found another student from her country who helped her get to her class. ”She explained to me in my language,” Salam said.
Meeting others in school was hard for Salam. She always was in class during her break time with her teachers,” I didn’t have friends so I choose to stay in the class and not to eat during my lunch time,” she said.
After she knew more English, she was able to know people and communicate. “When I spoke English well, I started understanding them and they understood me. So I made friends,” she said.
But even though she was making friends, it took time to understand about people in this country. Their behaviors seemed strange to her. “Some people were really mean to me,” she said. Some people made fun of her way of dressing and her way of speaking. “I didn’t dress like them. I couldn’t speak English well,” she said.
This made her feel bad. She tried not to be seen by those people,” I used to hide,” she said.
Now she doesn’t want to remember those days. “I don’t really think about the past,” she said.
Now she likes to help ESOL students when students first come. “I want to give them advice to solve their problems. I don’t want to see other people in the place I was in. I want to make it better for them,” she said.