The student voice of Perry High School

The Precedent

The student voice of Perry High School

The Precedent

The student voice of Perry High School

The Precedent

International student starting over from scratch

Kiyoung Haavisto
Freshman Chanelle Teoh left Malaysia’s spoon feed education system for a better education in Arizona. After living in America for a year, she has adapted to the new lifestyle.

In hopes of receiving a better education, Freshman Chanelle Teoh moved from Malaysia to America only a year ago. While her life in Malaysia was very peaceful, her life in America has been almost the opposite. 

When it came to her education, she had to start over. The education system was drastically different and the content was significantly harder. In her home country, teachers would list out key points to study and memorize for exams, leaving students without in-depth knowledge for certain subjects. Logical and direct subjects like math tend to be the easiest for Malaysian students based on this system: the spoon feed system. 

Additionally, subjects are taught in Chinese during primary school, but as students go to secondary school, subjects may be in Malay or English. The switch between languages can be confusing and set students back, but on the other hand, they often grow up to be multilingual.

In Malaysia, she had many friends, good grades, and participated in school activities. She noted, “It’s like having everything any person [would] want. Life was perfect.” However, moving to America would present new challenges socially as well.

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Teoh did not grow up speaking English consistently. She said, “The most frustrating part is [the] language barrier. I still struggle a bit to express exactly what to say.” Communication with English speakers continues to be a little difficult, but her English has been improving.

She also noticed that her interests were different from her peers and with nothing in common, making friends became even harder. Teoh stated, “As I mentioned, you won’t know anyone [or] anything. [Perspectives] are different.” As a result, she began to miss Malaysia and endured loneliness for some time.

For international students like Teoh, English Language Learners Assistants, or ELLA, can help students with school work during conference period. Club members build a sense of community for those who are struggling with school or the language barrier. 

Spanish Teacher Marla Vaughn detailed, “It’s more meaningful when it comes from a peer versus a teacher. Plus, these teachers, their focus is on helping them develop their English, so they may not know the best way to explain…math [and other subjects].” In addition, international students are able to learn English in a conversational setting over an academic setting, which can improve their skills and also create new friendships.

Despite her hardships, she found joy in the diversity and beauty of America. Unlike Malaysia, there was Mediterranean food, Mexican food, and fast food restaurants she had never seen before. Even the small culture shocks, like the driver’s seat being on the left side, were fascinating. Furthermore, there were more people from different parts of the world and some of them are international students like her.

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About the Contributor
Kiyoung Haavisto
Kiyoung Haavisto, News Editor
Kiyoung is a junior at Perry high school. This is her first year on the Precedent staff. Kiyoung is involved in Puma Pals and does martial arts as a black belt. Additionally, she likes baking, cooking, and writing in her free time.

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