From Uruguay to the United States

Sophomore Cecilia Draper, center sits with family in Uruguay. Draper's family first moved to Colleyville, Texas, prior to relocating in Prosper in 2018.  “Before the move I was basically living in a fantasy world, because I was excited for what was coming next.

Photo Courtesy of Cecilia Draper

Sophomore Cecilia Draper, center sits with family in Uruguay. Draper's family first moved to Colleyville, Texas, prior to relocating in Prosper in 2018. “Before the move I was basically living in a fantasy world, because I was excited for what was coming next." Draper said. “But once you actually move, that's a whole different thing."

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Moving changes student’s life forever

Tears fell from her eyes. Sophomore Cecilia Draper knew what the news she had just heard meant. Only a year later, Draper would find herself 5,312 miles from what she knew as home.

Moving across the world is something Draper said caused her to fear what her new life would entail. Growing up in the small country of Uruguay in South America, Draper was used to her surroundings. Now, she was in a new country, with a new language, new people and a new culture.

Being born in a smaller community, Draper said she grew up knowing everyone around her, so it was easy to transition into her first school. With Spanish as her primary language, Draper’s next educational goal began in her first country at the age of 4.

“I started learning English at a bilingual school in Colonia del Sacramento,” Draper said. “The area was so small that my dance classes were taught in my teacher’s garage, and my school was actually just a house. Each grade only had about 25 kids.”

Up until sixth grade, Draper stayed with the same 25 kids as they transitioned into new academic years.

“We were all really close because everyone just knew each other,” Draper said. “They were all kind of like my brothers and sisters.”

Once the news broke she was moving to Texas, Draper said she had mixed feelings.

Prosper High School provides services to students who qualify as a student who is learning English. We have specialized curriculum and classes for these students to help them increase their language acquisition and adjust to the American culture. ”

— Karla Reyes, ESL Teacher Specialist

“It (moving) was crazy. I’d been to the United States before, but I never thought I’d be the one to move there,” Draper said. “The first 30 minutes after I found out we were moving, I was crying and really upset because I just couldn’t believe it. But after that, it was just excitement.”

According to Draper, moving across the world was a big change for both her and her family. She described the move as “bittersweet” since she had to say goodbye to the people she had grown up with.

“We had a farewell party the night before I moved,” Draper said. “Everyone left me notes saying how much they would miss me, and that was my last time with them before moving. It was really emotional.”

Once in the United States, Draper said she found out that her journey wasn’t over yet, as adjusting had become “difficult” for her.

“Before the move, I was basically living in a fantasy world because I was excited for what was coming next,” Draper said. “Once you actually move, that’s a whole different thing.”

While in Texas, Draper said she struggled to make the school expectations work for her, considering her primary language was Spanish.

“Coming from a different country, I didn’t understand a thing,” Draper said. “It (school) was so confusing. I still didn’t fluently know English, but I had really good grades.”

Draper said that meeting new people in a new area made her get out of her “comfort zone,” and she kept up her newfound courage when she relocated to Prosper from Colleyville, Texas, in the summer of 2018.

“I wasn’t as nervous (with the transition) this time,” Draper said. “After moving across the world, moving cities wasn’t that big of a deal.”

Cecilia is so nice and such a great friend. I’ve loved getting to know her.”

— Amanda Hare

Draper said that her improved English skills made her transition into school easier, and with the second most spoken language at Prosper being Spanish, Draper said she felt more comfortable in her new surroundings because she related with other bilingual students.

“We have about 350 bilingual students and 42 different languages spoken at Prosper High School,” ESL Teacher Specialist Karla Reyes said. “We have many bilingual students on our campus, and many of them are fluent English speakers.”

At Prosper, Draper said she was able to easily adjust and soon was comfortable with her classes and new friends.

“It was nice starting over at Prosper, being fluent in English,” Draper said. “I wasn’t sure how the first day would go, but I ended up making a ton of new friends.”

Though her journey to the United States may have started out “rough,” Draper said she’s glad to be where she is now.

“I’m definitely not the person I was three years ago,” Draper said. “Slowly, I’ve adapted to my new life. It’s taken time, but it was definitely worth it. I see the world through a different perspective now, and I wouldn’t change any of it.”