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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Students discuss moving to America

NW instructional associate Melanie Mendez introduces students who spoke about the changes from their home countries to living in the U.S. to begin the first Latino Culture Series workshop Sept. 18. Photo by Gabrielle Saleh/The Collegian

By Gabrielle Saleh/reporter

Coming from a different country to the U.S. is a culture shock, student speakers told NW Campus students Sept. 18 during the first workshop of the Latino Culture Series.

NW students Jeniffer Mendez, Iara Roberto and Danilo Villaruel Suarez spoke about their transition from their home countries to the U.S. and how different the lifestyles of their native countries are from the U.S.

Mendez grew up in Moroleon in the Mexican state of Guanajuato and officially moved to the U.S. at the age of 12.

While in Mexico, Mendez said she experienced a traditional Catholic culture, but when she moved here, she dove into exploring new cultures and embracing the diversity.

“I started making groups of friends of different varieties, from different genders, different races, different ages,” Mendez said.

Those people built her to be the person she is today, Mendez said.

After growing up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Roberto traveled to the U.S. alone in the spring of 2015. She moved in with her aunt and uncle to study and start a new life.

At first, Roberto struggled with the U.S. culture.

“Most of the struggles I had were socializing with other people and making myself part of the society,” Roberto said.

She talked about the differences in friendship, personal space, customs and slang between Argentina and the U.S. In Argentina, greeting someone means that the person wishes to talk to him or her, but in the U.S., the person will most likely leave after the greeting, she said.

Villaruel grew up in Bogotá, Colombia, and completed his second year of college before moving to the U.S. in March 2015. Villaruel knew how to read and write in English, but he said he struggled with speaking the language.

“You have to make mistakes to learn and to get experience,” Villaruel said.

He also said how diverse the cultures are in the U.S. and that he had different expectations of America.

“The only thing that I knew about America was what they portrayed in the movies, and that’s not the way it actually is,” Villaruel said.

The speakers shared their positive experiences about coming to the U.S.
“The best thing about coming here is making new discoveries,” Roberto said.

Villaruel, a recent graduate from the Cornerstone Honors Degree Program, said he is proud of what he has overcome.

Lourdes Davenport, NW humanities special projects coordinator, and Melanie Mendez, instructional associate and world language lab manager, serve on the Viva Northwest committee, which presents the Latino Culture Series.

Davenport said they created the series to help students who face the same challenges and experiences as the speakers.

Mendez said having relevant events for Hispanic Heritage Month helps to educate students to celebrate the Hispanic culture.

“The goal was to show the different experiences, struggles and triumphs of the students that we have here,” Mendez said.

When asked the advice the speakers would give to someone who just came into the country, the speakers said to be involved and speak up.

“Don’t be afraid to get involved,” Roberto said. “Don’t be afraid to do anything.”

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