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December 21, 2011
Interview by student Xiomara Amaya, submitted by Jerald Pike

As adults, it is sometimes hard to imagine life through the lens of a youth. Now imagine life as a high school student who is also new to the United States and/or new to learning English.

English Language Learners from SIATech at Los Angeles Job Corps Center interviewed each other to discover each other's background differences and find out how life in the U.S. has changed them. The following is a write-up of one of the interviews.

Atsede Kahsay
Atsede is from Ethiopia. She came to the United States to improve her lifestyle. She came here so she could help her parents by getting a high school diploma and starting a different life. Her mom only went to middle school, but she knows math and speaks her language.

Atsede has 3 brothers. Two are working in the Ethiopian government. They are also married. Her older brother works in agriculture. Her mother lives in Ethiopia and does not work.

What is different from her home country is that she went to Ethiopian schools from kindergarten to tenth grade. She came here at 10th grade. She is learning English pretty well. Now she is ready to get her high school diploma. Now she knows the beautiful view of the beach, and the variety of food. In Ethiopia she did not have a job but now coming to the United States she has a job. She said that it is difficult to live alone away from her parents.

Since Atsede came to the United States, everything is different. Her life changed, and she has been homesick. She does not have the support she needs because people, and places and cultures are different.

Atsede feels strongly about children going to school because America takes responsibly for their children going to school. If a child does not go to school, the government asks the children's parents. In Atsede's country no one asks for children. Also, she feels strongly about technology. In the United States we have a lot of technology, but in Atsede's country they don't have enough technology, because it is an underdeveloped country.

Atsede has changed by becoming more independent and more confident in herself, and she is more open minded.

One thing Atsede could change about her country is taking care of the poor people. They don't have food or shelter. And she will make her own business with her family. She wants to change the old cultural ideas about women. Some young girls are forced to marry men they don't know. It is not fair. She wants to change that. Their country should take care of children and make them go to school.

SIATech (pronounced SIGH-a-tek) is an award-winning network of charter schools focused on dropout recovery. SIATech is a WASC-accredited high school that operates in partnership with the federal Job Corps and Workforce Investment Act programs on eight campuses throughout California. The school serves 100% low-income and previously out-of-school youth. SIATech excels at identifying student strengths and individualizing instruction to meet each student's needs and goals. The school's safe and caring setting enables students to take charge of their learning and obtain the tools they need for lifetime success, whether it is at their chosen career or further education. For more information on SIATech, watch this short video or visit the SIATech website.

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