Having travelled to Lesotho, Uganda and Kyrgyzstan, Raiana shares her experiences with school, friendship and belonging.
By: Raiana Imanalieva
I am someone who has travelled a lot so I’ve been to many different schools. My favourite school was in Lesotho where I studied for more than 5 years. I really loved the school there because they made me feel like I wasn’t any different from them. The school was pretty small so I knew a lot of people. All the teachers were kind and helpful, but after 5 years, I came back to Bishkek to continue 5th grade. I went to Silk Road and it wasn’t that bad because I had been to that school before, so I made new friends easily.
After finishing 5th grade at Silk Road, my mom got a position in her job in Uganda so I moved there with her and my sister. I was very nervous because I was going into a new school and when I saw it, it was huge. There were so many buildings that I would get lost at times. When I saw my class, I was shocked. There were more people than I was used to. In my old schools, there wouldn’t be that many students but here, it was so crowded. When it was my first day, my teachers welcomed me and introduced me to everyone.
The first week of school, I was the quiet kid. I didn’t talk to anyone and didn’t say a word. When people slowly started talking to me, I felt like this whole new school thing wasn’t that bad. During snack time, everyone in the school would go to the field and have their snack there. The field was enormous. It could literally fit thousands of people. After snack, we would line up with our classmates and our teachers would walk us to class. After a few lessons, we would have lunch. The cafeteria wasn’t that big, actually it was pretty small if you consider the number of students in the school. Primary would eat first, then middle school and then high school. The lunch wasn’t that bad actually, they even had a vegetarian section for vegetarians.
About a month into the new school year, I started to make a few friends and before I knew it, I was in a friend group. They were pretty nice but they would only talk to me or sit with me when their best friends weren’t at school. I felt like I was being used. They would always come to me when they needed help and I helped them, I couldn’t say no. Honestly, they weren’t the worst but I didn’t really want to be friends with them anymore. There was only one girl who was constantly nice to me and would always try to include me in their conversations.
After a few months, a new girl came to our class. She was from Turkey so she didn’t know English very well. I managed to talk with her in Kyrgyz because Turkish and Kyrgyz are similar. Soon after, we started to talk more and we became friends. She was the only one who would come and talk to me when I was sitting alone and we would have snack and lunch together every day.
A few months before the school year was over, my mom told me that she got a new position in Ethiopia. I was happy and sad at the same time. I thought about whether I wanted to go with her or if I wanted to go back to Silk Road. I decided to tell her that I wanted to go back to Silk Road. At first she was okay with it but then she asked me if I wanted to go to a new school which was BIS. I wasn’t really against it so we came here and a teacher gave us a tour of the school. The moment I walked in the school, it didn’t feel right. I didn’t like it and I think it was because I didn’t like moving to new schools, but my mom convinced me to try it out.
I joined grade 7 here and I instantly loved it. All the teachers were so kind. But the only problem was that I couldn’t make friends easily. I found myself in the same situation as I did in Uganda, I sat alone at snack and lunch breaks. But when I got to know my classmates better, they started to talk to me and made me feel welcome. A few months into the school year, I had already made new friends who were very nice. Then I started talking to the other 7th grade class and instantly made a bunch of friends.
When the school year ended, my mom asked me if I wanted to go to Ethiopia with her but I loved the school so much that I refused. Now, I’m in 8th grade at BIS and I absolutely love it. I joined the Basketball team and even made new friends there. Even though my mom wants me to go to Ethiopia, I don’t want to leave this school, but anything is possible so I could move to a new place at any moment. So I know that I have to value my time here because it could end at any moment.
In my opinion, it’s always good to try something new but it doesn’t always work out how you want it to. You kind of just have to get used to it.