Portraits of a Division

Portrait of ACPS Students: Alejandra Letona Tejada and Noe Elias

Alejandra Letona Tejada and Noe Elias come from two different parts of El Salvador. In fact, in their home country, it’s possible they may have never met. But the two Albemarle High School students have more in common than they knew.

Both Alejandra and Noe came to the United States two years ago and found themselves at AHS.

“It was a great opportunity for my family,” Alejandra said, “but it was a hard process to get here.”

Alejandra’s family had the assistance of her grandparents, who were already in the United States at the time and were able to help them get the paperwork started so that her family could come to the U.S. But even with that help, it still took seven years, and her father is still in El Salvador.

“I still miss a lot of my friends and family that are still in El Salvador,” she said. 

Noe has a similar story, having come to the area from El Salvador two years ago. And both Noe and Alejandra use the difficulties that they have been through to motivate themselves.

“It makes me want to do my best every day,” Noe said.

But the process of coming to the U.S. wasn’t the only difficult part of the journey, they said. Moving to a new country and community that speaks a different language was tough.

“I knew a little bit of English when I moved here,” Alejandra said. “But I’ve learned a lot more since I’ve been here.”

“That was one of the hardest parts,” Noe said. “In class, when someone was asking you a question in English and you didn’t understand it. It’s hard to answer.”

Which is what led to Alejandra’s and Noe’s meeting, thousands of miles away from their home country. The two joined the Latinx Club at AHS to find support and community. The club, which is made up of about 20 or so AHS students, aims to create a safe space for Hispanic or Hispanic Heritage students.

The club’s sponsor, Sarah Reyes, said that the Latinx Club provides a space where students can speak Spanish together, make friends, and celebrate la cultura latina.

“It’s a place where they are not the minority and where they can laugh, dance, share ideas, and plan events together,” she said. “Every year the ideas and the plans change, but the main purpose stays the same: to feel the sense of community.”

“We want to make people feel comfortable in their community,” Alejandra said. “We want them to know these are their people.”

“We really are one big family,” Noe added.