Life before Downey High

Celeste Lira, Photo Editor

Downey High has typically been a culturally diverse school; this year, however, the campus has numerous students from other countries join its population. Most of the students’ home countries are very different from the United States, but some aren’t so different at all.

Sophomore Vebronia Iskander and her brother Mario, 12, moved to Downey from Egypt one month ago. Iskander and her family moved to the U.S. hoping for a better life. Although she enjoys her new surroundings, Iskander misses her family in Egypt.

“[Besides] life without my family and friends [there is] no difference,” Iskander said.

She said that the only difference is that the houses are more “organized” in the United States. She misses everything about Egypt. She is still unsure whether she would like to move back to Egypt.

Josue Cruz, 11, came from Guatemala to live closer to his grandma. Cruz misses the food from his home country, but not the school. What he likes about living in the U.S. is the school, meeting new people, and band. Cruz plays the trombone, but in the marching band in Guatemala, he played the clarinet.

“I like the marching band,” Cruz said, “it’s bigger. The people are nice, funny, [and] the music is very different.”

Cruz is adjusting just fine to living in a new country even though he is still working on his English. He understands many words, but there are a few that need explanation. He is still undecided whether or not he would move back to Guatemala.

16-year-old senior, Catalina Buitrago moved to Downey from Colombia.  She moved to Downey when she was in fourth grade, but moved back to Colombia after two years. In December, she moved to New York with her mother and sister to live with her father, a forensic chemist.

Her life in Colombia proved very different than her current California life. Buitrago went to an all-girls Catholic school where she was in the same classroom with the same people for six hours, and she did not have many male friends. She graduated high school in Colombia but decided not to attend college when she arrived in the United States, because she thought she was too young. Buitrago hoped to attend school in New York, but wasn’t permitted to because she already graduated high school, so she moved to Downey to live with her aunt and uncle. Although she misses her family and friends, Buitrago enjoys living here.

“I like that there [are] many people from everywhere so you can like meet people from different cultures and learn about them and people speak different languages,” Buitrago said.

Buitrago is getting respectable grades and has made new friends. Although she plans to continue living in the United States, Buitrago intends to go back to Colombia to visit.

Junior Christos Meletis is another international transfer student who moved from Greece almost two months ago. Meletis and his family moved to Downey because his family has a business here.

“It’s different, [I can] meet new people,” Meletis said. “I’d say it’s nicer [in the United States].”

Meletis lived in the United States until he was eight years old, until he moved back to Greece but continued to visit every summer before he moved to Downey. Meletis hopes to live in the United States but visit Greece every summer.

Although moving to a new country and leaving family and friends behind is difficult, the Iskanders, Cruz, Buitrago, and Meletis students strive to adapt well to the new country and make this a memorable experience.