Feature Photo By: Savannah Lyman- Selam Araya enjoys herself with best friend Annika Trenton. Araya and Trenton have been friends since middle school. (Savannah Lyman)
By: Savannah Lyman, Review Staff
When she was only 12 years old, junior Selam Araya took a long journey from her home in Eritrea, East Africa all the way to North America. After traveling from state to state, she ended up in colorful Colorado.
“One of the differences I notice is that how much food there is in America for little amount of money,” says Araya. “Back home you have to grow your own plants and make it fresh but here it’s like it’s already made for you.”
Not everything was simple when Araya first started out, her lack of English making her stand out among others. This didn’t stop her from learning and doing as much as possible.
Education within Eritrea is much different than in America. After one finishes school, they don’t get the same opportunity as American students. The option for college is non-existent.
“The school in Eritrea was not the same as America because right after you finish high school you have to go to the army and train to kill our enemies which were Ethiopians,” says Araya.
Consequences for not doing homework would result in more than just a missing in the gradebook.
According to Araya, the teachers would physically hit you if you slacked on an assignment.
When she first started school, she didn’t take one minute for granted. Despite English not being her first language, Araya had big plans for herself.
“I do plan to go to college,” says Araya. “I will study medical or somewhere in the medical industry. It is hard to study medical school because it has to do with remembering things and remembering it very well. But there are a lot of doctors in America so if they did it then I can.”
Having an outgoing and positive attitude is how many describe Araya.
“When I first met her, I thought she was so nice,” says junior Annika Trenton. “Her personality is bright. She’s an extrovert who isn’t afraid to talk to anyone even if she doesn’t really know them.”
Besides being an A student, Araya has accomplished many things over the years. She tutors at Vassar Elementary and volunteers at Children’s hospital. She also fought against alcohol and drug abuse among teens with the organization Strive for Purpose. On top of that, she joined cross country for the first time and was almost immediately placed on varsity. Araya takes every chance she can get to be the best she can be.
“Selam is a hard worker, thoughtful, and punctual,” says art teacher Ms. Manciu. “She’s a delight to have in class and cross country.”
Even though coming to America was a dream come true for Araya, there are still things she misses about her home in Eritrea. The things she misses the most are the traditional foods and how everyone is one big extended family.
“One thing I don’t like about America is people [care too much about money], they are not happy with the money they have,” explained Araya.
Despite this flaw, Araya wouldn’t trade her home in America for anything else.
“In America people fight for what’s right,” says Araya. “In my country, people can’t because they are afraid and can’t fight back because they have a lot of people that they love.”
Araya has had many changes throughout her life such as moving to America and learning a whole new language. The struggles she had to overcome never discouraged her but only motivated her to dream big and conquer all.