In Red Lion there are a handful of first generation students who juggle the best of both worlds, from regular schooling, working on subjects such as language arts and math to going home, speaking different languages, and having completely different customs and traditions.
First-generations are people who are the first in their family to grow up in the United States. They are a unique group of people who go into the world knowing very little, and have to adapt to several cultures and ways of living, at the same time.
Coming from a father born in Antigua and a mother from the island of Trinidad, Brandy Matthew’s life beyond school hours is a melting pot of cultures.
Brandy’s parents came over to the United States around 20 years ago, and to them the education here is a major part of raising their three kids. “Education to them, my parents, is very important,” Brandy said. “They just want me to take advantage of all the opportunities they didn’t get when they were young.”
Many parents hope and expect their children will have greater opportunities than the ones that the parents had in their home countries.
“My parents really care about how I do in school,” said Brandy. “With such big opportunities here they have given up a lot to see me thrive in school, and be successful.”
And though Brandy may not speak a different language, there are other students who do.
Junior Alejandro Piña comes from Cuban and Colombian parents, and is fluent in both Spanish and English. While Spanish is his first language, he still speaks both on a regular basis.
Both Brandy and Alejandro can agree that coming from a different cultural background influences their everyday lives.
“I’ve been really influenced by the culture, more so on my dad’s side,” said Alejandro. “He’s Cuban so I’ve really grown into that.”
“Sometimes I look at people doing something I’m not familiar with and I’m like ‘Why?’” Brandy said. “It really amazes me how different [the cultures] can be sometimes but you hardly notice it because it’s what you’re used to.”
From the food, to visits and where their families originate from, both Brandy and Alejandro contribute to the percentage of first generation students here at Red Lion.