I wrote this letter so that those young people who come to this city can see my experience. Many of you might feel something similar. I also want to share some tips on how to prepare for the schools in Baltimore.
On my first day of school, I felt confused because I didn’t know anything about my school and didn’t speak English. It was difficult because I did not know how to adapt to my new life in the United States, learning new things, like culture (just thinking about it gives me a headache!). When I found out that I would go to school, I panicked because I didn’t know anything about here, I didn’t know how to speak English either, and my life had suddenly taken a turn. I was also excited. In this experience, I learned to grow and defend myself. It made me stronger.
Something that caught my attention was that my teachers were patient with me and always supported me during the first months to adapt and learn a little English. I am very grateful to them because it was not accessible due to my hearing problems, but I always paid attention in class and arrived early. The classroom is where I felt safest because my teachers were there.
It was not easy to make friends because I was afraid to open up to people. I always sat alone and did not talk to anyone. After a while, I learned to speak a little English, and I got to know people and talk a lot to them. There is also a lot of bullying, I did not expect this to happen to me, and they did it to me because I did not know English and because of my skin color. At first, I blamed myself for not knowing how to defend myself or not knowing how to respond to these types of problems, but the truth is that this was not my fault, perhaps not the other boys’ fault either, but because we did not know how to understand each other. I believe that there should be spaces in schools to share the consequences of bullying and a place where we can all get to know each other and our experiences as immigrants and what it means to go far to a new school. We need to listen to each other.
In the United States, the school organization is very different from the Dominican Republic. Here in the United States, school starts at 7:50, and we leave at 2:20. In the Dominican Republic, it is double time. Classes begin at 8:00 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon. In the Dominican Republic, my mother took me on a motorcycle and picked me up as well. Here I had to get used to new habits like waking up earlier and taking the bus to school.
I would advise you to have an open mind and be willing to achieve your goals from my experience. Never let yourself be carried away by the bad comments that people say and that if you have questions, don’t be shy to ask! It would be best if you always arrived at class on time. Be super responsible so that the teacher sees that you are responsible so then they will help you.
Hope my experience helps you.