Charles de Gaulle Airport, August 2005. Destination: JFK Airport, NY. With mixed emotions, three pieces of luggage and one ticket in my possession, I was about to board a plane for a life-changing journey. Leaving Paris, my mind was full of questions and doubts about what would happen next. Having been educated in the French school system all my life, I was about to enter a new system and a new school: Scarsdale High. The French education was never right for me because they would not consider my learning differences or try to help me in any way to improve. Scarsdale turned out to be my academic salvation.
In September, under sunny skies and warm temperatures, I entered Scarsdale High School. I was wowed. This was the “American Dream”! (Everything I had seen in movies was right in front of me; lockers in the hallways, cheerleading team posters, football practice outside on the field.) As I walked down the entrance hallway, I was a complete stranger to everyone, and they to me. People stared at me as if I was an alien from outer space. I felt uncomfortable and isolated. With the help of my father, my teachers, my psychologist and my counselor at the high school I managed to move ahead, looking at the positive aspect of my transition. School had started, books were being read, papers were being written, World History was being learned intensively for the Regents, and I was still here. The English vocabulary learned in France was useful, but insufficient. I struggled, day by day, to learn and focus, to concentrate and listen, to listen and to apply what my teachers had taught me. My transition lasted six months. During that time, I had only two friends; socially people thought I was different because of the way I dressed (“a la francaise”). Everything changed the day I passed my driving test. I became more independent, and was one of the first in my grade to have my driving license.
At the beginning of my junior year, I was prescribed Adderall to help me with my learning disabilities. This changed my life completely. Academically, my grades had varied from D’s to C’s but when I started the medication, they changed, as did I. My grades were now as low as B’s and as high as A+’s. I became more interested in classes and finally started to enjoy school. I particularly enjoyed psychology. The subject was so interesting, and the way it was taught even more so. Rashid Silvera, the teacher, was so enthusiastic about everything. He showed us the most fascinating things about psychology, and totally changed me. Mr. Silvera made an enormous impact on my life and made me realize that life was different than I had imagined. I was so involved in his class, and enjoyed an amazing student-teacher relationship, a relationship I would never have had in France. Socially, the medication made me more confident in tasks than I had ever been before, and I was able to enjoy life as a successful student. I was no longer the “French foreigner” but an American who could interact with others with no problem. This medication has really been life-changing, and has enabled me to show my full capacities.
The transition from Paris to Scarsdale has changed me in various ways. I am now interested in school, and enjoy all of my classes. I plan on going to university to pursue my dream of one day becoming head of a marketing company, and learning as much as I can. No Stopping Me Now!