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.”


Special Education Webinar Reading, Dyslexia, and Equity: Best Practices for Addressing a Threefold Challenge
Learn about proven strategies for instruction and intervention that support students with dyslexia.
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.
Families & the Community Webinar
How Whole-Child Student Data Can Strengthen Family Connections
Learn how district leaders can use these actionable strategies to increase family engagement in their student’s education and boost their academic achievement.
Content provided by Panorama Education
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.
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
The School to Workforce Gap: How Are Schools Setting Students Up For Life & Lifestyle Success?
Hear from education and business leaders on how schools are preparing students for their leap into the workforce.
Content provided by Find Your Grind

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 Fed's Education Research Board Is Back. Here's Why That Matters
Defunct for years, the National Board for Education Sciences has new members and new priorities.
2 min read
Image of a conference table.
Federal Opinion NAEP Needs to Be Kept at Arm’s Length From Politics
It’s in all our interests to ensure NAEP releases are buffered from political considerations and walled off from political appointees.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Federal Feds Emphasize Legal Protections for Pregnant or Recently Pregnant Students, Employees
The U.S. Department of Education has released a new resource summary related to pregnancy discrimination in schools.
2 min read
Young girl checking her pregnancy test, sitting on beige couch at home.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Federal Conservatives Hammer on Hot-Button K-12 Education Issues at Federalist Society Event
The influential legal group discussed critical race theory, gender identity, and Title IX.
6 min read
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks at the Phoenix International Academy in Phoenix on Oct. 15, 2020.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was among a phalanx of conservatives addressing K-12 issues at a conference of the Federalist Society.
Matt York/AP