Cultures converge in Viking melting pot

Learning about new customs, cultures and languages only serves to increase a persons knowledge and understanding of the world.

Even if a student is unable to travel to other countries, they still have opportunities available to them within the hallways of Bryan High.
Some students have been lucky enough to experience other cultures first hand, but with that comes an adjustment period once they return home.

For freshman Jenna Goen and senior Jimmy Goen, moving back to the States was a strange change for them after living in Africa for the first few years of their lives.

“My parents took all of us over there because they went to be doctors and missionaries in Nigeria,” Jenna Goen said. “We did missionary work for the people we lived with and bush people called the Fulani. We were missionaries with them and they were like the M.D.’s or directors of the hospital.”

Jimmy Goen says the environment in Nigeria was a lot different than it is here.

“For the kids, there was a tree house that we built and we just explored, it was pretty fun,” Jimmy said. “There were these mountains around our village and we would go and explore those. We went bike riding too.”

The Fulani tribe that the Goens did a lot of work for thanked them in a unique way that most Americans wouldn’t be able to do.

“To say thank you to my family and my dad, the Fulani crowned my dad chief over the Yoruba, which was the group we lived with,” Jenna said. “There’s a head king in the whole Fulani of Nigeria and then there are kings below him and my dad was crowned one of those.”

Like the Goens, junior Rebecca Burch also spent the first few years of her life in a different country, as she was born in northern Italy and moved to the United States after her father got a job at Texas A&M.

“Besides the language, it was pretty easy,” Burch said. “My father always spoke English to me as a child, but I further learned the English language in pre-school because I went to a bilingual school. In kindergarten, I learned English in no time.”

Rebecca visits Italy every summer and she says one of her favorite parts of her visits are the great food.

“There’s a whole lot of hills that have all these tiny towns with really good home-made, family-owned restaurants,” Burch said. “The people don’t give you a menu, they just orally give you a list of foods that they have prepared for you.”

While a lot of students from other countries are now living here permanently, freshman Pedro Da Rocha is living in the States only temporarily. Although Pedro will be returning to Brazil in the summer, he’s not here as an exchange student.

“Most people coming here are exchange students,” Pedro said. “Well, that’s not why I’m here. My cousins work here at A&M so I came here too. Coming here is very expensive, [especially for an] exchange student.”

The main adjustment Pedro had to make was coming to a new school with different traditions and customs.

“In Brazil, I had history, geography, and math,” Pedro said. “I didn’t have agriculture or cooking. In Brazil, I went to a private school because the public schools are very bad. Some Brazilians don’t have the money to pay for a good education and the good schools are private and they’re very expensive.”

Students coming here from around the world experience living a new lifestyle in a whole new country. With different students coming in, we too can learn about new cultures and customs from other countries without ever leaving home.