International Families in the School

Olivia Borgula, Staff Writer

 “We moved to East in 2013 from Israel” Stav Okanin ‘23 said. After moving to Michigan, Okanin joined the handful of international students in East Grand Rapids. Some things Okanin had trouble adjusting to were an unfamiliar language, environment, and school. 

“Some of the things that were hard to adjust to were the cold weather and different food” Okanin said. “The first year was a little hard [to learn a new language] but going to school and hearing everyone speak English everyday made it a lot easier.” 

Caspar Dicke ‘22 also found it difficult to move to another country. “I moved here one and a half years ago from Germany. I missed my old friends a lot in the beginning and it took me a few months to get adjusted and settled in.” 

Outside of school, many students and their families speak a variety of different languages. “My family speaks German and English. My parents also speak French.” Dicke said. Maria Lopez-Linares ‘22 and her family speak English, Spanish, French, Basque, and a little German. “I think Basque was the hardest [to learn] because French, English, and Spanish all come from Latin” Lopez-Linares said. “It was easy I guess to learn a new language because I started when I was little so I just got used to it.”   

Another student who moved to East Grand Rapids from another country is sophomore Tejas Iyer. After joining East Grand Rapids High School last year, Iyer hasn’t been extremely affected by cultural differences. 

“[Where I’m from] hasn’t really influenced day to day life. Though there may be cultural differences, they haven’t hindered me from doing anything, which is great!” 

In contrast, Lopez Linares found many differences after moving from Spain to the United States. “The school [here] is easier. There is also more green and nature than in my city,” Lopez-Linares said. “In Spain I lived in a city like New York, so I lived in an apartment. Also, Thanksgiving doesn’t exist in Spain but it’s a huge celebration here.”