A whole new world: Maritza Romero Esteban


Madison Szczepanski, Staff Writer

Imagine attending a new school, in a new country, and not speaking the same language as everyone else. Scary, right? This situation is exactly what freshman Maritza Romero Esteban is going through. Having immigrated to America from Guatemala eight months ago, Maritza is learning English solely by attending school and listening to those around her speak.

“When she first came in and I heard that she only spoke Spanish, I really wanted to be able to help her with that,” said junior Maddie Paciorek. “I like [hanging out with Maritza]. It’s a cool experience, and I really want to be able to continue to do things like this.”

Even though there is a slight language barrier between Maddie and Maritza, that doesn’t stop them from developing a strong friendship.

“Our personalities get along really well, and she makes me laugh a lot,” Maddie said. “I was very passionate about helping her.”

Maritza is very excited to be a part of FHC and embraces the differences between the culture in America and Guatemala.

“It’s very big and there are a lot of buildings and cars [in America],” Maritza said. “I went to school in Guatemala, but [the school] is a lot bigger [in America] and there are more students.”

Maddie, along with other students, are doing all they can to assure that Maritza is feeling welcomed and comfortable in her surroundings. One way that they are doing this is by celebrating her birthday with a small party.

“Her birthday is coming up so some of her good friends are putting on a party for her,” Maddie said. “We are going to bring her cake and balloons and give her gifts.”

Maritza is excited about living in America and making progress on learning a new language. When she is in her classes, translators are required to help her understand. One class Maritza is taking this year is Spanish 1 with Tammie Dykhouse in order to help build a grammatical Spanish foundation and also develop English skills.

“I am learning English, I have an independent study,” Maritza said. “[Also,] Señora Dykhouse helps me learn Spanish 1 in English.”

Another significant contributor to Maritza’s transition is Spanish teacher Carlos Silvestre. Having moved to America from the Dominican Republic when he was a teenager, Silvestre also had to learn English through attending school. Silvestre wants to be a part of helping her adjust because he has “walked in her shoes.” Silvestre is enthusiastic about how well Maritza seems to be adjusting.

“I think she is adapting pretty well,” Silvestre said. “She has very good communication, she is friendly and she interacts well with people, so that helps.”

Maritza has made a number friends over the short time that she has been attending FHC. All of the people that she talks to seem to have formed a special bond with her.

“Many times you get kids that are shy because of what they have gone through, because of any issues they may have, they tend to shut down a little bit,” Silvestre said. “But she has been very open and friendly and so that I have to give her credit for.”

Silvestre is trying to be as helpful as he can because of the way he relates to her situation. He wants to make sure that she has a smooth transition to the American culture.

“I don’t have her directly as a student, but I have been moved by her and her situation,” Silvestre said. “I help her a lot and she always comes to me for questions.”

Silvestre, Maddie, and many other students at FHC are eager to get to know Maritza better through the year and develop strong friendships with her.

“I have seen [the helpfulness of the students and staff] like I have never seen before,” Silvestre said. “There is this caring spirit among some students that she hangs out with; they have embraced her.”