By TATUM MAPES
The United States of America has been a hotspot for immigration ever since the English Puritans sailed on the Mayflower to Plymouth, Massachusetts. Often, one hears stories of Europeans making the voyage to Ellis Island, or families south of the border looking for a fresh start. All of these immigrant stories feel like they only happen to strangers with no contact to Americans personally, but they are closer than one may think.
Meet Redlands East Valley sophomore Christine Naser. A little over a year ago, she and her family moved to Redlands, California, from Syria.
“I moved here because all of my father’s family was here, and for the money,” explained Naser, “we had little money in Syria…the prices to buy everything have been going up, and you need to be able to afford food.” Syrian food inflation, as well as the drop in value of the Syrian pound, has created a problem for many families in the Middle Eastern country. “It’s become really expensive.”
The Naser family has been planning to move here for around 12 years. “We started from like 2003 to 2016,” she described, “You can’t just go to the airport and get a ticket. No, you have to wait, because there are a lot of immigrants who want to come here. We had to wait about 12 years, then we came here. It was just a lot of waiting. For the first two years, we didn’t really feel like we needed to come here, but for the last two years, everything became expensive.”
When asked how she adjusted to speaking English, Naser answered, “My first language is Arabic. I learned a little English in Syria, but we learned it in almost a different accent. Here, it was really difficult to learn…you feel like you are weird to other people, like you have a different language and a different mind. It becomes easier with time.”
She recalled her first day at REV. “I was really scared, like the first day of school here, I literally cried. I didn’t know anyone here, and I didn’t really know how to talk so it was just really scary.” She later got used to the atmosphere and made some new friends. “You just need the time to learn, and this country has a lot of different things. It’s much easier to adjust this year than last year. It’s more comfortable now.”
Christine’s family is also getting used to the language and culture of America. “I actually have one little brother and one older sister. My sister is a senior right now, and my brother is nine years old. They are learning the language the same as me. My father and my mom are working. They know a little English. My mom works with other people who speak Arabic, so I actually know more English than my parents.”
Since her family’s big move, Naser has been able to adjust well to her new country. She was recently involved in REV basketball, and currently sings as a second soprano for REV’s intermediate choir, Bella Voce. She has an older sister who is a senior at REV, and a nine-year-old little brother, both of whom are succeeding in school. Her family has adjusted well and each day they continue to adapt and excel in their new life.