Make a Change

Fighting for What Is Right


Hailee McClafferty, with permission

No H8 (hate). Erielle Amboy, a junior student-athlete at Abington High School, raises her hand to stand against hate. Like many students and young people around the nation, students in Abington are taking a stand against bullying, hatred, and prejudice.

Leticia Meneghetti, Staff Writer

My name is Leticia Meneghetti. I am a sophomore at Abington High School, and I will graduate in 2021. I was not born in the United States, and English is not my first language; however, I am still human. I have the right to live and be who I want to be and so does every other person in the school and in the world. I have good grades, I work hard, I try to learn from my mistakes, and I try to be positive, even when times are hard.

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I came to the United States when I was fourteen years old, and since my English was not so good and I was not able to finish the school year in Brazil, due to moving here, I was held back in eighth grade. My first day in school was not very good. I was crying nonstop, and the other kids were staring at me while I bawled my eyes out. I was welcomed by my teachers and the staff, who were all very nice and helped me calm down. I remember that this one girl called Nicole was the only student who asked me what my name was and how I was.  After that day no other student ever did that.

I have friends, but these friends came about as a result of spontaneity as we never had a structured environment to properly introduce ourselves and to get to know each other. But despite that, I am beyond grateful for all my friends. I do not think that I would be writing this right now if it were not for the people who stayed by my side and accepted me for who I am.

However, I and many other students who come from different countries experience xenophobia often at this school.

When I started high school in 2017, I wanted to be more outgoing and try new things. Well, I tried to do that, but it did not go as planned. I felt like there was something preventing me from doing what I wanted to do. I blocked myself even more after this one day in gym class when a student said things that made me hit rock bottom. He was running around with a lacrosse stick and disrupting our game, so I said some things in Portuguese, and, as my friend heard him say, he started saying that I only spoke Portuguese because I did not know how to speak English and some other things that were very racist. I broke down crying, because his words made me feel so useless, dumb, stupid and any other kind of negative adjective.

After that experience, I did not want to speak English anymore, because I felt like all that would come out of my mouth would not make sense and no one would understand me. I started to feel worse about myself and, even though I know I did not do anything wrong, I felt at fault, as if he was right on saying those things. I wanted to disappear. I felt like I should not be at school and that I did not deserve a place on earth.

This boy later explained that he did not mean any of those things he said to me. But I found that explanation to be useless. I still felt like I should die instead of taking someone’s place in the school. If I am being honest, I never got over that one comment. His words were like sharp knives piercing right through my heart.

It still haunts me anytime that I say a word wrong or do not know a word when I want to explain something. Because I do not know how to speak fluent English, I feel like I do not deserve to be here. This has happened to some of my peers also. It has happened countless times, but they were never told before.

People are trying to silence the voices of the oppressed by saying that this does not happen or that it was the first time. ”

— Leticia Meneghetti

I am only writing this because I feel like some people do not care about the racism that is really happening and are trying to let it slide and not make a big deal out of it. If no one tries to do something about it, it will keep being present in the school and in society. People are trying to silence the voices of the oppressed by saying that this does not happen or that it was the first time. The problem is, this happens way too often to the foreign kids who arrive at the school. Some people talk behind our backs, start rumors about who we are and the things we do, and make us have a bad reputation by the things they say. This makes us feel like no one truly cares about the minority, about us.

Since my first day in eighth grade until this day, I have never felt welcomed in the school. It does not matter how many people were nice and wanted to help me because they cared, I still felt like an outsider. There are people that do care and believe that we are just like everyone else, and that the only difference is that we can speak another language. Unfortunately, these are only some, and their help is covered by the negativity that is louder. Hate is not going to make the country great again.

I want to try to make a change no one else will. My friends said that they did not want to bring attention to this problem, but this isn’t only about us. This is about any other person who has felt like no one cared for them for being a minority and feeling as if they are alone. I hope they know I am by their side. They do not even have to be my friend or care about me at all. I just want them to know that they are not alone, and that there are people who care in this school. I will fight for what I believe is right, and I will not let anyone silence me or my peers. Students keep listening to all the “you have a voice” talk, so we want our voices to be heard.