All Around The World: CCHS Welcomes Students From Other Countries All Around The World: CCHS Welcomes Students From Other Countries
BY STACEY PASTERNAK The Canary Islands, or the Canaries, are one of Spain’s 17 self-governing communities and come in the form of 13 islands.... All Around The World: CCHS Welcomes Students From Other Countries

CCHS's United Nations, from right to left Marlen Carro, Emily Saunders and Shams Dhanani. Photo Credits: STACY PASTERNAK


The Canary Islands, or the Canaries, are one of Spain’s 17 self-governing communities and come in the form of 13 islands. They are very popular among tourists because of their beautiful climate and natural swimming pools, and are home to the third largest volcano in the world, Mount Teide. Durban is the largest city in KwaZulu-Natal, one of the nine provinces in South Africa. The city is located in the eastern region of the country near the Indian Ocean. Durban is arguably the busiest port in South Africa and is a mecca for tourism, due to the city’s serene beaches and warm weather. It is also one of the largest cities in the country, next to Johannesburg and Cape Town. Sindh is one of the four provinces of Pakistan, and is located in the southeast region of the country. The name Sindh itself is derived from the Indus River that separates it from Balochistan and the greater Iranian Plateau. But what do all these cities and countries have to do with each other? It is true that the locations themselves may not have much in common, but they all have something that connects them all together. One student from each of these destinations attends our very own CCHS.

Senior Marlen Carro was born in Cuba, but moved to Spain (more specifically, the Canary Islands) when she was just three years old. She is in her third year at Cooper, but she moved to America in 9th grade, where she spent the school year in Miami.

“I moved here because I’ve always wanted to live here, I’ve always liked it,” Carro said. “But also the situation in Spain was really bad so my parents decided we should all move here.”

In Spain, schools usually consist of no more than 200 students, so coming to Cooper City High School with thousands of students, came as quite a culture shock. All this hustle and bustle made it difficult for Carro to adjust in the beginning.

“It was so hard because I knew a little bit of English, but I couldn’t communicate with a lot of people. I’m so shy at first.” Carro said. “But learning from that experience made me stronger because now I can communicate a lot better.”

Carro’s favorite school subjects include government and French. In fact, her favorite teacher is her French teacher, Cynthia Turni.

“She’s just amazing, she is so supportive and she just makes me want to learn more and more,” Carro said.

Turni has been teaching at Cooper City High since 1984 and met Carro last year as a student in her French 1 and French 2 classes.

“She’s a wonderful student,” Turni said. “She is absolutely focused, she does her work, and always strives to do her best.”

Carro plans on graduating from Cooper City High, but she still has a few personal goals left to complete before walking across that stage.

“I joined Culinary Club, so I really hope to cook American dishes or food from other countries,” Carro said. “I also want to keep my grades high, try to do the best I can, meet as many people as I can and have fun.”

Carro plans on either going to FIU for college or flying back to Spain to attend a University in Madrid. In a few months, Carro will graduate, but she hopes her story can make a lasting impact on the students at CCHS.

“I want people from other countries to know that anyone can learn a different language and get into that group of new people without being shy,” Carro said. “You can always learn from others and you can always teach people from different countries what you know of your own country. I want everyone to know that it’s fine to be different.”

Freshman Emily-Peta Saunders is from Durban, South Africa. She moved here because her dad had to move for his job.

“I moved here three and a half months ago,” Saunders said. “Of course I miss my old home and my family, but I’m loving it at Cooper.”

So far, Saunders’s favorite part about Cooper is getting to wear normal clothes. Back at her old school, procedures were a lot more disciplinary.

“We had uniforms, I went to a private school,” Saunders said. “We weren’t allowed to do anything crazy with our hair or nails. It very strict and very focused.”

This wasn’t the only thing that initially surprised Saunders about Cooper City High School. The students as a whole surprised her just as much, if not more.

“They’re very different than where I’m from. The way they treat people, their attitudes, especially toward the teachers, and the respect they have is all very different here,” Saunders said.

Although it was difficult at first to get used to it all, Saunders said that after the first week she was already in love with the place. She has made a lot of new friends already as well.

“The kids at Cooper are treating me so nicely, I’m really loving it here,” Saunders said. “I’ve made so many new friends from all different ages and grades, and they’re all nice.”

One friend is freshman Lauren Frishman, whom she met when she first moved here just a few months ago.

“We had a couple classes together and she seemed really nice so I just talked to her and we’re great friends now,” Frishman said.

One of these classes is journalism, which Saunders considers to be the school subject she enjoys most. She is excited to continue her passion for journalism in the years to come through the journalism classes offered here at CCHS.

Coming to a new school and making friends in a world full of strangers seems like a daunting task, but it was exactly the opposite for Saunders.

“I think it helped that we had journalism together because we sit next to each other in that class,” Frishman said. “We also talk about our love for fashion, something we both have in common.”

Besides fashion, Saunders’s hobbies include surfing and gymnastics. In fact, her favorite American location so far is California, because of the waves. Hopefully, she will love Florida’s Hollywood Beach just as much as she does the shores of California and Durban’s world-renowned beaches.

Saunders plans on attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York after high school ends, but won’t leave without completing the goals she has set for herself for the remanding few years she has here at Cooper City High School.

“I want to leave with good friendships, good relationships with my teachers, and just being on good terms with everyone,” Saunders said.

Sophomore Shams Dhanani was born and raised in Sindh, Pakistan, but moved to Cooper City in late November of this school year. Even though he is so new, Dhanani prefers Cooper City to his life in Pakistan already.

“Over there, it’s much harder,” Dhanani said. “Everything I’m learning is pretty easy over here. Over there, the schools are much smaller. My school was from kindergarten to grade 12 but it was still much smaller. Over there, the kids don’t move between different classes, the teachers come into the classroom. It’s more fun this way though, because you get to talk in between, and the teachers are much better here. They’re very strict over there.”

Understandably, Shams hasn’t formed many friendships at Cooper City High yet, but says that the kids he did meet so far seem pretty nice. it’s not just the school and it’s students that are new to him. The area surrounding him, our very own “someplace special,” is uncharted territory for Dhanani.

For most of us, moving to a new school in a new country sounds frightening. But for Dhanani, his adjustment to Cooper City has been somewhat effortless.

“I like it here so it’s not that hard for me to adjust,” Dhanani said.

But why move to another country in the first place? Why try and adjust to a new country at all? For Dhanani, that question is easily answered.

“The political conditions got really bad because we had a new prime minister,” Dhanani said.

This move has been easy for Dhanani not only because he likes it here, but because he got to bring favorite hobby and school subject along with him. Dhanani has a passion for playing the guitar and he is taking a guitar class here at Cooper City High.

Seeing Carro, Saunders and Dhanani walking the halls of CCHS, you’d never expect them to be from such faraway places. Not, at least, until you talk to them. So the next time you run into one of these three, or any of the other students from other countries currently attending CCHS, strike up a conversation with them. You never know just what you might learn.

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