Xochitl Dorsey (Producer/Writer/Editor/Sound Recordist)

It’s hard enough being a teenager. Really, it is.

Immigrants coming to the United States, documented or undocumented, face a staggering array of extra obstacles. Discrimination, language barriers, unfamiliar cultural traditions, lack of knowledge about social structures, low wages… all of these things, and more, must be confronted by people who move to the U.S. Now imagine you’re an immigrant high schooler who barely speaks English and (remember this: it’s important) one of your main goals is fitting in.

As if high school isn’t hard enough already?

One high school in Queens has fashioned itself into an environment where Latin American immigrant high school students can continue their education in Spanish while simultaneously learning English. They get to focus on academics in a language that they already understand. And the school also teaches its students about practical things, like how to buy a metro pass. The non-English speaking H.S. population in New York City has a 30% graduation rate. Pan American International High School wants to change all that by giving its students a place to belong.