Carmina Balagtas and her family before her move to Virginia

Carmina Balagtas

From The Philippines to Palmyra

January 25, 2019

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Most students might have a hard time imaging what it would be like to move across the U.S.– let alone a different country–and restart their lives. Yet, that is exactly what FCHS freshman Carmina Balagtas did. Balagtas and her family used to live in Manilla, the capital of the Philippines, before moving halfway around the world when she was in fourth grade. Balagtas moved to the United States with her mother and sister, Carmela, to be with her grandparents who were already living in America.

While many kids found it easy to start school and make friends, Balagtas also had to learn to adjust to a completely new country and environment. For example, the Philippines have different school policies compared to the United States, some of which include mandatory uniforms and shorter school hours. “[After the move] I learned what it felt like to be left out sometimes. Even though I’ve been here for almost eight years, I still don’t relate to a lot of my peers,” said Balagtas.

Balagtas misses a number of things from her hometown, including the hot weather, the culture, and most important, her family. “The hardest thing about moving was definitely leaving my family behind,” said Balagtas, which is the reason she is planning on visiting the Philippines during the summer of 2020.

Balagtas is looking forward to graduating and becoming a teacher. Her main reason is because she wants to help kids who are in a similar situation to what she has experienced. “I want kids to know they shouldn’t be ashamed of who they are, or of their culture,” Balagtas said.

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