When I first came to this country, I had a lot of challenges and pressures I needed to face. Those pressures were from school and from family. At that time, it was very hard for me to adapt to this new country. I remember the first day I went to Mission High School. I did not even know how to open my mouth and answer the question, “Where are you from?” When I was speaking, my voice would be shaking all the time. In this period of time I was embarrassed, confused, and terrified. Even though I struggled with my language, other things were challenging for me too; I needed to translate letters and news for my parents, and when I wasn’t studying I also needed to find a part-time job to help my family.
This kind of experience I had is similar to almost all the young people who are new immigrants, especially at Mission High School, which is a very diverse school. Here there are many immigrant students from different countries. Also, a lot of the teachers at Mission High School have experienced immigrating to this country. The things they were struggling with were the language, housing, tuition, and different culture. According to the research I did, reporters Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova said, “In 2013, 17.4 million children under age 18 lived at home with at least one immigrant parent. They accounted for 25 percent of the 69.9 million children under age 18 in the United States.” This shows that the youth immigrants in this country are a large part of the population.
Student Rong Jiang immigrated from China about three years ago. She knows this country pretty well right now. She told me a lot of the challenges she faced, and about life right now compared to the first time she stepped on the United States land. “I’m studying and working at the same time right now. If I have good language skills I may find a job more easily.” She is a student who studies at Mission High School. I think it is a good point for immigrant students. The language problem will cause a lot of trouble. Most of the newcomers need to help their family, so they will find a part-time job outside of school. In school, they have homework and other sport activities. At same time, we also have to do a lot of helping our families and rebuilding our families in the U.S.
Nonetheless, this is only one of the things making the immigrant student’s life hard. The main problem is language. “According to Zong and Batalova, in 2013, approximately 79 percent (234.6 million) of the U.S. population ages 5 and older stated that they speak only English at home.” This means that most of the students will have a language issue. Either their family does not speak English or they are not fluent in English. “The remaining 21 percent (61.7 million) reported speaking a language other than English at home. Spanish was by far the most common language spoken within this category (62 percent), followed by Chinese (including Mandarin and Cantonese, 5 percent), Tagalog (almost 3 percent), Vietnamese (2 percent), French (including Cajun and Patois, 2 percent), Korean, Arabic, and German (almost 2 percent each), and Russian (1 percent).”
As well we know, the U.S. is an English-speaking country. People like Jun Piao Wei are part of the five percent of the population who speak Cantonese at home, and use English at school. “It is too difficult to learn both languages here, every day I need to translate English to Cantonese for my parents, and deal with the school work.”
What he said was the family pressure comes from having family members who do not speak English. The big responsibility is helping their family, not only financially, but also with translation.
Today, youths bear a lot of pressure. I think the way to help them comes from school. The things I think might help are one-on-one tutoring, pushing immigrant students to join programs or clubs, and giving extra help to those students after school. The youths are the future of this diverse country, so I think it is a thing we should focus on.