Mwenge Travels Far From Home For A Better Life


Audrey Hemingway

Highland junior Esther Mwenge (top middle) is a refugee student from Tanzania.

Audrey Hemingway, Staff Writer

Traveling 9,485 miles from her home country Tanzania, Africa to Salt Lake City, Utah was a thrilling and ecstatic experience for Highland junior, Esther Mwenge. After going to school with around 20 kids total, Esther and her family were ready for a new adventure. Her parents were set on moving to the United States to give Esther new opportunities such as better education, learning the leading language of business, travel, international relations, and English. In Tanzania, Esther didn’t speak English. Instead, she spoke Swahili, just like everyone else in her home city Dar es Salaam.
So coming to the U.S. to learn English was a big deal. Normally, if she is having trouble speaking her 2nd language, she will slow down and process the words to make sure she is using correct grammar. But when she gets excited or happy, she can speed up her pace and show a lot of emotion in facial expressions and tone.
When Esther left her home, she felt bittersweet. She was sorrowful, but also really happy because she heard the U.S. was really cool and she wanted to see it for herself.
“I was so happy. I would come to the U.S. and see white people I have never seen before,” Mwenge said.
When she came to the U.S. she discovered that Dar es Salaam and Salt Lake City were very different places. In Salt Lake City, Esther was able to see snow for the first time. Because of the tropical and warm environment of Tanzania, she had never seen or touched snow before. But the snow wasn’t the only difference from Dar es Salaam to Salt Lake. She was also surprised that teenagers at the age of 16 were able to drive cars. In Tanzania, everyone rode bikes and motorcycles. When the citizens reached the age of 25, they were able to own and drive cars. Another difference she came to realize was how much more immense everything was compared to Tanzania.
She was really happy about the size of her new home and high school because they were so big. When Esther entered the school grounds, she was very surprised by the size and student population of Highland High School. Compared to the 9 boys and 11 girls who made up her old high school in Dar es Salaam, it was hard at first to adjust to around 1,600 students at Highland. But over time, she learned to love her new school. Even though she has lived in the U.S. for a short period of time, Esther has become a very successful student.
Louise Wisner, who is Esther’s math teacher, said “She is a hard-working student and is not afraid to ask questions. She works really well with others and brings a willingness to try her best.”
Because of her skill of working well with others, Esther has made some really good friends. One reason she adjusted from one school to another was because of the students and other refugees of Highland. She was able to make some great friends that will support her in everything she does. Highland has won a place in her heart.