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Afghan Student Doesn’t Let Language Barrier Deter Her

  • When Roma Haidari, a 2022 graduate of Wichita Public Schools, arrived in the United States from Afghanistan in 2016 to start 8th grade at Jardine STEM and Career Explorations Magnet Middle Academy, not only did she not speak English, she never had any formal schooling.

    “My teachers at Jardine didn’t understand me, and I didn’t understand them,” she said in a story that appeared on the Wichita school district’s website.

    “The teachers would go on Google to translate something in Pashto, my language, but I didn’t know how to read or write in my language, so I didn’t know what to say to them. It was a really difficult journey.”

    She said the teachers worked hard to help her learn English and help her with her classes.

    Haidari then attended classes at East High School, which she credits for helping her improve her English and writing skills. During her senior year at East, she and her family went back to Afghanistan for several months and she wasn’t able to graduate with her class. When she came back to Wichita, she attended Wichita Alternative to earn her diploma.

    “I am very fortunate because I was able to finish all the classes I needed to graduate and take college courses,” Haidari said.

    She said everyone at Wichita Alternative was very helpful and specifically thanked counselor Amy Alvarez for supporting her with her classwork and helping her apply for college and for financial assistance.

    Haidari is currently taking classes at Butler Community College and plans to continue her education at Wichita State University studying computer science.

    “I am just so proud with what I was able to accomplish within a few years,” said Haidari. “Every morning when I go to college, I realize I’m not the same person I was when I first arrived here.”