We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofShnider Germilus

It was the summer of 2016 and I did not have a care in the world, but this was also the day my mom said we were moving. Then it happened -- we were really moving. We were gathering our things. I was shocked when we started throwing stuff away so we could travel lighter. It really set in when I had to give my BB guns and bikes away. We were leaving our small town of Immokalee, Florida to move to Boston, Massachusetts.

In Immokalee, everyone knows everyone. I was known as a vakadon (the word for bad kid in Haitian Creole). I made my name big by stealing small things and robbing bikes and basically doing bad things. I had a little clique made with my friends. We were always up to something. We rode all over town on our bikes causing problems. I was a big fish in a small pond. 

It all changed when I moved to Boston. I was now a small fish in a very big pond. I had never traveled far from home before, but whenever I did I would feel homesick. Then we were on our way to Boston on the Greyhound. The farther we went the more anxious I felt. I wasn't feeling myself at that moment. It was like a bad dream. When we were on the Greyhound, we passed by many cities. I had never seen tall buildings before. Everything was new, but the farther we were from home, the less I felt like myself. I was comfortable back home. I knew everyone and knew where everything was. Moving here meant I would have to re-learn where and how things work.

A few days passed and we reached Boston. Walking out of the bus station and going into the city, I saw so many cars and buses. It felt like a movie to me seeing all of this. I saw large boats on piers, seagulls, and some nice cars. I also saw a vast body of water while driving over a bridge. 

Summer time came around, and I didn't do anything really. I would go out for walks or I would stay inside watching anime. Summer time soon came to an end. I started my freshman year at Charlestown High. It was massive and I was alone there: no friends, only me. I kept to myself because I didn't know anyone at this school and didn't know who I could trust to have my back. I really didn't talk to anyone. I only talked if someone was asking me something. I didn't stay there for long because we ended up moving to Fall River. While there I met a girl named Wanaya. She was my first friend in Massachusetts and still is to this day. While in Fall River, I made more friends and started coming out of my shell. I started going out of the house more and doing after school activities. I joined JROTC and also played football where I played DN (Defensive End). I felt different.

I ended up moving around alot in Massachusetts, and it was challenging for me. I would have to restart the process of making friends all over again. I hated it. I would have to find my way into having a friendship with new people and getting to know them. Going through these changes helped me a lot though. I learned how to act right in different places and how to talk to people better. It also taught me how to be independent and to survive.

© Shnider Germilus. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.