ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WDVM) — A group of T.C. Williams High School educators went the extra mile to see how the majority of their international students may have lived before migrating to the United States.
At the end of June, the group traveled to El Salvador, where 40 percent of the school’s current international students are from. T.C.’s International Academy serves about 630 students – mostly from Central America – who have recently immigrated to the U.S.
“When we welcome new students, for us to have a lens of understanding and appreciation and a respect and honor for our students’ experiences, we can more easily bridge the transition from their own country to here,” said Vice Principal of International Academy 7 Kristen McInerney.
A casual conversation with her secretary, Victoria Menjivar, turned into a couple months of planning a trip through 300 miles, seven provinces, and six schools. Menjivar immigrated from El Salvador in 1982.
“I think it was important because I wanted them to see the difference between the structure; the resources that they have or don’t have,” said Menjivar.
El Salvadorian students take their classes in a.m. and p.m. shifts, with three recesses each day.
The group made a stop in Chirilagua; the town for which a neighborhood in Alexandria is named. McInerney says many of her students live in the Chirilagua neighborhood.
“One of my favorite parts of El Salvador is the people,” said McInerney. “It was a great experience and we are grateful to El Salvador and everyone we met; the six schools and teachers and principals who have a heart of gold and share the passion and compassion for being educators that we have.”