Special Report

Student Travels 3,000 Miles to Reunite With Parents

By Jaclyn Zubrzycki — June 01, 2012 2 min read
Adiel Granados, 17, reviews a quiz in his Advanced Placement Chemistry class at Wheaton High School in Silver Spring, Md. Born in El Salvador, the junior plans to go to college and become an engineer.

To get to the United States, 11-year-old Adiel Granados traveled more than 3,000 miles by land, leaving his grandparents’ home in El Salvador to live in Silver Spring, Md., with his parents. They had immigrated eight years earlier and settled into work—his father drives a recycling truck, and his mother works for a local government program for young, pregnant women—while Granados and his younger brother attended school in El Salvador.

Granados, now 17, said that as a child he missed his parents, who kept in touch over the phone but never returned to El Salvador. Though he always knew he would eventually make the move to the United States, he was nervous about the transition and leaving his friends.

After Granados and his brother finally arrived in Silver Spring, they found a large and well-established Salvadoran community, including several relatives. Many of his peers at Wheaton High School, where he is a junior and his brother is a freshman, also moved here from El Salvador or have parents or grandparents who made journeys similar to his.

The boys arrived in summer 2006. Their parents had already researched how to go about enrolling them in school, and Granados and his brother entered the Montgomery County public school system that fall. Granados entered an English-as-a-second-language program right away, and by 8th grade, he had exited the program.

Still, language was his biggest challenge, the teenager says. He has never had a Salvadoran teacher, and most of his teachers do not speak Spanish.

At first, since he spoke almost no English, “I could only make a certain kind of friend,” he says. “It was about a year before my English got good enough to make other friends.” But now, he says, he doesn’t stick to one group and is in classes with students from many backgrounds. “I’m from nowhere—I’ve never been a person [who] thought I represented my whole country,” he says. Since arriving in the United States, however, Granados says it sometimes seems as though “everyone [from El Salvador] is thought of as the same.”

Granados and his brother attended school in a suburban community in El Salvador, but learning the system at his new school in this country took time. “Here, there’s more money [in school], and it’s more organized,” he says. There, often, “no one was trying to learn.” Here, too, he sees peers who seem “discouraged,” he says, but he is set on college and has done well in school. Mathematics and science, in particular, made sense even as he was learning English.

According to Granados, the biggest difference between his home and school is the food. At home with his family, Granados mainly eats Salvadoran food like pupusas, whereas at Wheaton High, it’s “hamburgers and stuff I would never eat.”

At school, Granados plays soccer and is enrolled in several Advanced Placement courses. He takes his studies seriously and hopes to become an engineer. “I want to go to college because I like to learn and because I want to be a better person. It will open many opportunities to do better. My parents want me to do better than them,” Granados says. “And I want to help my parents so they can stop working.”

“I’m trying to help people see that it is possible” for Hispanic students to do well, he says. He tells classmates: “You can do better than you think. You have to try hard.”

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Data Analyst
New York, NY, US
New Visions for Public Schools

Read Next

Federal Who Is Miguel Cardona? Education Secretary Pick Has Roots in Classroom, Principal's Office
Many who've worked with Joe Biden's pick for education secretary say he's ready for what would be a giant step up.
15 min read
Miguel Cardona, first-time teacher, in his fourth-grade classroom at Israel Putnam School in Meriden, Ct. in August of 1998.
Miguel Cardona, chosen to lead the U.S. Department of Education, photographed in his 4th-grade classroom at Israel Putnam School in Meriden, Conn., in 1998.
Courtesy of the Record-Journal
Federal Obama Education Staff Involved in Race to the Top, Civil Rights Join Biden's White House
Both Catherine Lhamon and Carmel Martin will serve on President-elect Joe Biden's Domestic Policy Council.
4 min read
Federal Opinion What Conservatives Should Be for When It Comes to Education
Education is ultimately about opportunity, community, and empowerment, and nothing should resonate more deeply with the conservative heart.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Federal Opinion What the Assault on the Capitol Means for Educators
Last week's assault on the seat of the American government points to a larger civic challenge that we must address together.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty