Humans of McNeil: A Series

Students share what it’s like to be a teenage immigrant in the U.S.

Take a look at people’s lunches during school and it’ll convey more about their background than sharing notes in class will ever show. Cultures and customs vary, from the way the door is opened, to how greetings are exchanged, as these seemingly miniscule revelations show just how many diverse ways of life are coming in and out of McNeil.
“I came here the summer of 2013 from Mexico because my dad got a job,” junior Carolina Gomez said. “One of the first things I noticed was how big everything was, and the amount of people from all over the world.”
America is often referred to as a melting pot of cultures, and it’s especially present in classrooms. The majority of immigrant students experience a ‘culture shock’ when they are introduced to these varying cultures and mannerisms that most students are accustomed to.
“I don’t think that it would’ve been better or worse growing up in Mexico or the U.S.,” Gomez said. “But the opportunities I’ve gotten here and the friendships I’ve made are amazing and I wouldn’t change them for anything. Even if it comes at the price of not seeing my family that often.”
The most defining and permanent change for immigrants everywhere – and detrimental experiences for some – is having to leave behind ties to their old country. They face the risk of leaving family, all for better opportunities. But for some, it allows for growing friendships, as well as a deeper appreciation and love for the people they left. For some students, they feel that they can call both countries home.
“I moved here from India on May 14, 2013 for business and education purposes.” senior Eshita Velani said. “[India] was definitely different because the environment was really strict. It was hard being around and trying to learn English because I speak Gujarati and Hindi at home, and take in all the stuff that a person who was born and raised here knows, but it opened my eyes to different perspectives.”