September 3, 2015

Guilfordians Offer Advice for Refugees, Immigrants

The Greensboro News & Record published advice for young refugees and immigrants from two Guilford students and a staff member.

A story in the newspaper focuses on Newcomers School, a local public school that serves refugee and immigrant students who are learning English. The Guilfordians are quoted in a sidebar to the story.

One of the quoted students, José Oliva ’17, moved to the U.S. from Guatemala in 2011 and attended Newcomers School. At Guilford, he is a Bonner Scholar and a past president of the student government.

“A lot of people, when they move to the United States, want to change their name because they want to be accepted into the community,” José said. “But never acculturate to that, you know?

“You are who you are. Your mom and dad gave you the name you have. Be proud of it. … If you were born in Nepal, be proud of being born in Nepal. If you were born in Vietnam, be proud of it. Because that’s who you are.”

Don’t allow the challenge of learning English make you doubt your intelligence, he urged.

“You have the same brain, and I think, God created us all the same,” José said. “You have your own thoughts and you can think for yourself. Don’t think because someone grew up in this other country that seems to be better off than yours they have the right answers. You have the same ability and capacity to distinguish what’s right and wrong.

“So always stand up for what you believe in and be proud of who you are.”

Fellow Guilford student and Bonner Scholar Risuin Ksor ’18 counseled young people to be patient with their parents.

“Our parents really care for us and they really love us,” Risuin said, according to the newspaper. “One other reason why they’re doing certain things is that, yeah, they don’t know the American culture and they still have that old world mentality. That’s why they’re doing certain things.

“But what I learned is you have to communicate with your parents. You have to tell them what you’re doing because they’re worried. They have no idea what you’re doing in school, you know?”

Guilford staff member Andrew Young, volunteer training coordinator for the Bonner Center, also advised young people to appreciate the sacrifices made by their parents.

“You be proud of what you did and how you’re struggling,” Andrew said, “and just remember the struggle that your parents have gone through as well, because it’s not easy.”