Adjusting To America

The Barise family moved to the United States in 2015.


Coach Van Dyke regularly jokes about his favorite and least favorite soccer teams. (The siblings did not want their pictures taken for this story)

Kayla Moore, Staff Writer

Transferring to a new school can be scary for anyone. It becomes a matter of adjusting to a new place, different people, and a different community. But what about transferring from a different country? Four of Windsor High School’s students, the Barise family–Abdi, Abdifatah, Abdikadir, and Sharifo–came to the United States from Somalia, which is located in Africa with a population of 14.74 million.

“We came here on August 15, 2015, because my parents wanted us to gain a better education, and grow up to get a good job,” Abdi Barise said.

Coming to a completely different environment than what they have known their whole life can cause a significant amount of stress, so having support from loved ones is very helpful.

“My mom has been my biggest supporter. When I have problems, she gives me some solutions to help me,” Abdi Barise said.

The United States has given these young students more opportunities for their future selves.

“When I grow older, I want to become a professional soccer player,” Abdifatah Barise said.

Abdifatah’s dream has caused him to bond with coach George Van Dyke by starting a rivalry.  

“Abdifatah likes to talk smack about the soccer teams he likes and the teams I like. He likes Manchester United and Manchester City, which is completely improbable, and I like Arsenal. Anytime Arsenal does bad, he reminds me the next day. So, I have all of his teams scores on my board because they were losers,” Van Dyke said.

Adjusting to a whole new country can take some time. Windsor High School has set up an ELL (English Language Learners) class for students in similar situations.

“This semester we have created an ELL class and every day they are able to connect with a certified ELL teacher along with having A+ tutors second hour to help support them. We are working really hard to help them to be successful as a high school student,” Rachel Montgomery said.

Margaret Kennedy, Windsor High School’s ELL teacher, works hard to help the students become successful in school.

“My main goal is to get them to where they can be successful in their classes independently. I prepare them for this by practicing listening, speaking, reading, and writing in English. I get to know each student so they can trust me and share with me when they aren’t understanding. It is a process. Scientific research shows it takes seven years for someone in a new country to be able to feel comfortable communicating, reading, and writing the language,” Kennedy said.