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.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

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.”


English-Language Learners Webinar Helping English-Learners Through Improved Parent Outreach: Strategies That Work
Communicating with families is key to helping students thrive – and that’s become even more apparent during a pandemic that’s upended student well-being and forced constant logistical changes in schools. Educators should pay particular attention
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.
Mathematics Webinar
Addressing Unfinished Learning in Math: Providing Tutoring at Scale
Most states as well as the federal government have landed on tutoring as a key strategy to address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Take math, for example. Studies have found that students lost more ground
Content provided by Yup Math Tutoring
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Schools Could Count Nonbinary Students Under Biden Proposal
The Civil Rights Data Collection for this school year could also revive questions about inexperienced teachers and preschool discipline.
6 min read
Image of a form with male and female checkboxes.
Federal 'Parents' Bill of Rights' Underscores Furor Over Curriculum and Transparency in Schools
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley's bill highlights how education issues like critical race theory will likely stay in the national political spotlight.
7 min read
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., says "it's time to give control back to parents, not woke bureaucrats."
Patrick Semansky/AP
Federal Opinion It’s Not Just the NSBA That’s Out of Touch. There’s a Bigger Problem
Those who influence educational policy or practice would do well to care about what parents and the public actually want.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Federal Dept. of Ed., Florida Continue to Battle Over Ban on School Mask Mandates
Federal officials say they’ll intervene if the Florida Dept. of Ed. goes ahead with sanctions on districts with mask mandates.
Ana Ceballos, Miami Herald
2 min read
Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran speaks alongside Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, rear right, Fla. Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., left, state legislators, parents and educators, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran speaks alongside Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, rear right, Fla. Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., left, state legislators, parents and educators, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP