You’ve left everything behind: family, friends, all you’ve ever known. You’re going to a place you’re supposed to be safe. A place where you can dream endlessly. The mecca of pop culture.
At Reynolds, the student body has members born all over the world, along with several student-exchange programs. “I think that there’s a lot of different races and a lot of cultures around the school,” freshman Claire Kindsvater said.
She feels that Reynolds is mostly “black and white,” but also has a good amount of diversity, especially compared to other high schools. She plans to host an Argentine next fall, which has become a popular experience at Reynolds.
There are several exchange-student programs at school, including the German exchange program. Myers Harbinson, a freshman, hosted a German exchange student named Leon Ried Byron Edmond. Harbinson said he really enjoyed the experience but that, “It was very weird at first.” Meeting someone from a different country and knowing that they’ll be living with you for a month can be a scary experience, but Harbinson said he learned a lot about another culture.
Edmond, originally an English native, said he also loved the experience. “I have always wanted to come to America.” He said that a lot of German pop culture reflects American pop culture and that “Germany is very hipster.” Edmond said that he’d really miss the incredible kindness of the American people, and that he wishes he could’ve seen more of the country.
Reynolds has also served as a refuge for many. The school teaches many students from Burma, who came to America to save themselves from the current conflict in their country. RJR also has others who came to America for safety, including World History teacher Fakhria Luna, who’s originally from Afghanistan. During the time she was living in her home country, there was an ongoing war with Russia. When Russian occupation finally ended, civil war broke out, and her parents decided they had to leave.
“Civilians were hurt all the time,” Luna said. “I didn’t get to see any of the country because of the war. It wasn’t safe to travel, it wasn’t safe to go on vacation. It was just constant warfare.”
Luna said she heard almost constant gunshots and bombs, making life very difficult. After leaving Afghanistan, Luna’s family took temporary refuge in Dehli, India.
“That first night we were in India, it was the first night ever in which we didn’t hear anything through the night, so it was so strange,” she said.
After two years in India waiting for the opportunity to come to the U.S., Luna’s family finally got accepted and moved here. The move was hard for her, and she was terrified to leave, as she didn’t know if she’d ever see any of her family again. Looking back, Luna knows that the move changed her life.
“Had we stayed there, I don’t know if I would have the same opportunities… opportunities for women after the Taliban came went from abundance to absolutely none, so I feel like I definitely wouldn’t be a teacher because the Taliban closed all schooling for girls,” Luna said.
“Even though we have different cultures and practice different religions, at the end of the day we’re all human beings with feelings and emotions, and that’s transparent no matter where you go in the world,” Luna said.