Colombian student masters English at Lacassine High

By Crystal Price - bio | email

LACASSINE, LA (KPLC) - A student from Colombia is mastering the English language and writing high quality poetry shortly after moving to Jeff Davis Parish.

Valentina Aristizabal has attended Lacassine High School since August 2009. The tenth grader's family is involved with the sugar mill industry in Lacassine.

Aristizabal knew little English upon arrival and relied heavily on her interpreters for help on completing school work.

"I got here and I didn't understand anything," said Aristizabal. "The first day I went to school I went crazy and felt like my head was about to explode. I didn't get anything."

Aristizabal said she became more comfortable with learning and speaking the English language with the help of her English teacher and interpreter at Lacassine High School.

"When she first came she was very shy and insecure," said Martha Bowers, Aristizabal's interpreter. "But now she has conquered the language."

Aristizabal has also began writing American poetry in addition to mastering the speaking of the English language. The English student currently wrote a poem discussing her experience so far in southwest Louisiana.

"I always wanted to come here and see how life was, but then I started missing Colombia," said Aristizabal. "That's when I decided to start writing about it."

Virginia Sherrill, Aristizabal's English teacher, added that her student has no idea how far she has come with the English language.

"By talking to her I can tell that English is not her first language, but through her work I wouldn't have ever known," said Virginia Sherrill, Valentina's English teacher at Lacassine High School. "She does that well."

Aristizabal added that she plans to continue writing poetry. The Lacassine student does not know how long her and her family will be living in Lacassine. However, Aristizabal does hope to stay as long as possible so she can earn a degree in criminal justice.

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