Grecia Martínez is a Kindergarten at VHE. Julio and Yelitza, her parents, left "Michelena", Venezuela, in 2015. Still newcomers in the US, but they already know they would like to stay forever. Grecia turns 6 on March 25 and loves reading, both in Spanish and English, as well as watching movies and educational programs on TV. Her "grandma" Annette Ellstrom leaves in Madison with the family, but her maternal grandparents stayed in Venezuela. She talks to them everyday on Skype.
Sílvia and I are from a region in the north east of Spain called Catalonia. I am from Barcelona, the capital, with a metropolitan area of close to 3 million people. Sílvia is from a much pleasant place called Ponts. This is a small town with 2,500 inhabitants in the middle of a region that could be the “Wisconsin of Catalonia”: far from the sea–in European distances–, cold, and with plenty of farms.
Hyuna Oh, Dongseop Lee and their two daughters came to Madison for a short stay. They arrived during last summer from Seoul, South Korea, and are planning to leave at the end of next year. It’s not the first time Dongseop lives in Madison though. He lived here for 6 years as a graduate student. And he is now back to UW as a visiting scholar.
Nataliya and her 5-year-old daughter Kaite moved to Madison 14 years ago. Only a week after leaving Kharkiv, Ukraine, Kaite started kindergarten in Ms. Theis’ class at Van Hise. She enjoyed the welcoming atmosphere of her new class as well as her first teacher and friends in the US. When she arrived, Kaite spoke Russian and Ukrainian, but no English. With the support from teachers and peers, she started communicating in English fairly quickly. ESL students in Kaite’s class made this transition easier for her, since they could easily relate to her feelings and emotions.
Maria Prudnikovich was born in Luban, a small village near Vileika in Belarus. This is her third year at VHE: a bilingual teacher in kindergarten and first grade during her first year, a first grade teacher with Ms Mileham last year, and now a first grade teacher again. Maria Prudnikovich is also Ms Masha, her Russian nickname and also how everyone at VHE knows her.
Peng Kangzhou, also known as Daniel, moved to Madison with his daughter in April. They come from Chongqing, China, a city with around 20 million inhabitants encompassing over one thousand towns and smaller townships. Viola Yang, now a VHE first grader in McGuire’s class, arrived with him to join the full year experience. His wife Angela “commutes” between Chongqing and Madison. Here, they live with the Veto family, who welcomed them at the airport and since then is sharing their year-long life in the US.