Written by Cinthia Recarte Hernandez
When my children were being bullied at school, I knew just how they felt. Before moving to this country, I was bullied for not having parents. My mother and father had left — not because they wanted to, but because they wanted a better life for my sister and me. Everyone at school made fun of us. For two years, we didn’t have friends and we were lonely at school. I couldn’t understand why we had to be apart from our parents.
When I was 11, my 8-year-old sister and I came to join our parents in the United States. But the bullying followed me. My first day at school was the worst day possible. I didn’t know the language and everyone made fun of me because I couldn’t understand what they were saying. It took me two years to learn English. I wanted to prove my desire to be in the United States, to learn and to be a better person. I was blessed with many people who helped me, and I wanted to prove to them that their help was worth it. After two years of being bullied for being different, I became one of the top students in my school and graduated from high school with one of the best GPAs.
I never thought my children, who were born in the United States, would face the same challenges I did, but the bullying began with my son when he was just 5 years old. My twin daughters used to cry and say, “Can we please stay home. We hate school.” They were becoming shy, mad and insecure, just as I had once been.
My husband and I began to think about different schools, but we didn’t know how we could afford tuition with three kids. We had heard about Saint John Paul II Regional School in Stratford at our church, and it took a year to finally ask one our good friends for information about the school. We made an appointment with the school principal, Mrs. Persing. As soon as I walked in, I felt the difference. I thought, “This is exactly what I want for my kids.”
Mrs. Persing explained how the school worked and said we might be eligible for tuition assistance, thanks to generous people who donate to help families like mine.
Now my children are getting a good education and they have a stronger relationship with God. They are not afraid to come to school. They are happy and confident. They have friends and play sports. They don’t hear anyone telling them, “You are not good enough.”
I appreciate everyone at Saint John Paul II who gives my kids the love they receive at school every day. Coming to the school has changed our lives and my kids’ future. I pray to God every day that he continues to bless everyone who gave my kids and my family this amazing opportunity when we needed it most.