by: Andrew McDonough
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to move to a new country? In our own Wethersfield High School community, there are many students who have experienced the immigration process first-hand. Dennis Gega, a junior here at WHS, grew up in Rimini, Italy, and came to Wethersfield at the age of 13 in 8th grade.
At first glance, Wethersfield was a foreign place to Dennis. Though the people seemed nice, the wide array of houses, neighborhoods, and roads designed strictly for cars contrasted deeply with the pedestrian oriented, apartment lifestyle Dennis was used to back in Italy.
As time went on, and Dennis’s English developed, he would learn to adapt to “American culture.” When asked to discuss his overall experience in Wethersfield, he said it was “pretty positive.” He grew to like the area as a whole, and appreciated how people in town and at school were supportive toward his learning of English, and how everyone was quick to lend a helping hand.
Dennis still misses certain aspects of Italy, such as the food. When asked to comment on American pizza, Dennis went on to rate “Frank Pepe’s pizza a mere 6/10.” It’s “different,” he said. He commented on the struggle to “observe” and model others' behavior when he was trying to figure out how to orient himself in our community.
Learning how to speak, act, and even think like an American was something Dennis had to pick up along his learning process. While Dennis admired some nuances in American behavior, he did admit one key cultural difference that was somewhat of a shock to him, “People are more cocky in general in the US,” Dennis said. While he did note that there are benefits to having confidence, Dennis added that overestimating oneself was a quality that can have a negative effect.
Dennis had advice for teachers in approaching new students, “Just treat me normally.” Dennis added that he wished some teachers would treat students new to this country just “like the others,” and not make so much of an effort to go easier on them just because they are new. If you see Dennis in the hall, make sure to say hi. He’s a great, funny kid, just make sure not to talk pizza.
Written, edited, and produced by Wethersfield High School students, covering all news and events.