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North Atlanta Students Share Multicultural Knowledge

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French-born junior Thomas Contis is one of many North Atlanta students with international backgrounds.

French-born junior Thomas Contis is one of many North Atlanta students with international backgrounds.

Shemar Williams

Shemar Williams

French-born junior Thomas Contis is one of many North Atlanta students with international backgrounds.

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North Atlanta has always been a diverse setting. One of the school’s crowning attainments is the large amount of students with foreign backgrounds. It was either their parents or even they themselves that have moved from one country to America and attended school here. They’ve had to adjust to our culture but now is the time to take a moment and appreciate theirs.

One of these said students is junior Thomas Contis. His family had moved to the U.S. in 1999 and the language spoken in his home is French. “I have the opportunity to communicate with other people who know French,” Contis said. “So it allows me to be able to navigate France quite easily and converse with people around the world.”

Junior Mira Ratchev is another student whose parents hail from another country. Though her parents speak Bulgarian to each other, the dominant language at home is English. Ratchev, who herself has a serviceable degree of proficiency in Bulgarian, is stronger in English so her parents speak to her this way. “It’s the most practical thing so that’s the way we go,” she said.

It is sometimes difficult for those who are not born in the States to get used to the language, culture and people here. Fortunately, many schools in Europe already teach English as a second language. Junior Chloe Jarmache has a American mom and a father who is French-Arabic. She was born in California and moved to France when she was one and then moved back to the states when she was 12. “Having lived in two different cultures affects me a lot,” she said. “Whenever I go France I’m ‘the American’ and when I’m here, I’m the ‘Frenchie’ so I’m always different.”

For multicultural students, it’s not just language that’s different. The food from a “home country” can also be quite different than American fare. Junior Samir Fayed, who has an American mother and an Egyptian father, can attest to this fact. “We eat pretty much anything that has rice in it,” he said, referring to the dominant dish in his father’s country.

For many family meals they have fish, or perhaps vegetables like carrots and peas. Fayed’s favorite is an Egyptian dessert his mom makes that he particularly likes. “It’s like a vanilla pudding with raisins and cinnamon and coconut shavings so it’s really good,” he said.  

Having a foreign background, moving in from a different place, of being able to speak another language can be very beneficial for understanding the world. “I feel like it makes me a more accepting person,” said Fayed. “Because I kind of understand when people are from different places from the world.”

Jarmache offers a similar strong endorsement for the international background. “Having lived in two different cultures made me see how people can be different and the same at the same time,” she said.  

Their different perspectives enrich their lives, just as multicultural students enrich the lives of everyone at North Atlanta.  

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Thinking with Excellence to Inform and Enlighten
North Atlanta Students Share Multicultural Knowledge