Transfer students integrate into Lynbrook community


Graphic by Ashley Song

Kavya Iyer, Content Editor

New faces. Unfamiliar words. A new home. People, culture, surroundings — everything is different. While some Lynbrook students have grown up in the area, others have moved from other countries. High school alone is difficult, but for international students, adjusting to a new environment is an additional challenge.

One of the main barriers many international students face is language. Because English is not their first language, some students struggle with communication.

“[When I first came to the U.S.], it was really hard because I didn’t understand English, so sometimes, I would have my friends translate,” said senior Nick Chen, President of International Club, who moved to the U.S. from Taiwan in 2011.

Even if students are proficient in English, they can feel uncomfortable speaking it in front of others.

“My first day of school here was a little better than at my previous school in the U.S. since I knew more English than before, but it was still hard because I was nervous and afraid to speak,” said senior Starr Gong, Vice President of International Club, who moved from China in 2016.

To better support such students, Lynbrook offers English Language Development classes (ELD) for students who are learning English as a second language. Two levels are offered: ELD 2 and ELD 3. For other subjects, designated sheltered teachers have classes with only ELD students.

“They work much harder than many of my other students, and really fight to learn to be part of the broader community,” said ELD 2 teacher Diana Albaker.

ELD classes primarily focus on encouraging students to be confident in speaking with activities like interviewing Lynbrook students.

Because the language barrier can also make it more difficult for students to bond with others, they can face discrimination. However, due to the small size of ELD classes, typically 10 to 20 students, each class forms its own tight-knit community.

“My ELD classmates were just like me, immigrants, so I felt very comfortable being with them,” Gong said. “[ELD] also gave me the opportunity to learn more about other cultures from them.”

ELD teachers like Albaker have observed the supportive dynamic in ELD class as well.

“They bicker like siblings, they get along like siblings and they draw pictures of everyone on my white board,” Albaker said. “It’s such a small class that they become a little family, which is really nice.”

The sheltered teachers also facilitate the students’ transitions. They provide students with knowledge about activities in the area, serve as mentors and help new students foster connections, resulting in a smoother transition.

“When I first came here, I was bullied a lot,” Chen said. “It was hard because I couldn’t find a community I felt I belonged in, but staff members told me about volunteering opportunities outside of school which helped me make more friends.”

The teachers also further students’ understandings about various school aspects, such as course selection, which can be confusing.

“When I came here, there were so many classes for every subject, and I did not know difference,” said Stephanie Feng, who moved from China in 2017. “I asked a lot of questions, but all the teachers were very patient and helped me understand.”

Senior Julian Almanza, who moved from Belgium this year, found Lynbrook much more friendly and welcoming than his old school.

“In Belgium, fights were very common, and nobody did anything to stop them,” Almanza said. “There were also a lot of kids smoking, so my school actually had a designated area for students to smoke.”

Similarly, International Club provides students with a supportive environment. It aims to help students make more friends and focuses on building students’ English skills, using tools like Kahoot to make learning English more exciting.

“International Club helped my transition a lot, and I met many of my friends through the club,” Gong said. “There are also lots of different cultures within the club, so I became very comfortable being with different people and chatting about their customs.”

While Lynbrook has many differences compared to other schools around the world, international students appreciate its cultural diversity. Although language barriers can be a challenge, students and staff lend a hand to international students. Despite possible initial challenges, the students can find a place in the community and call Lynbrook their new home.