ALERTS:
Search:
Skip Navigation LinksCherry Creek School District > District News > Nathalie Dieme's journey from Senegal to Smoky Hill marked by perseverance
Print this page

Nathalie Dieme's journey from Senegal to Smoky Hill marked by perseverance

nathalie.jpgIt’s nearly impossible to pick up any trace of an accent when Nathalie Dieme speaks.

That’s all the more impressive, considering the 18-year-old from Dakar, Senegal, didn’t speak English when she landed in Colorado in 2007. She traveled to a new state and a new country at the behest of her father, an immigrant who’d come to the United States on a work program years before. He wanted his 9-year-old daughter to enjoy more opportunities and better prospects in his adopted country.
First, she’d have to learn a new language and acclimate to a new culture.

“It was very difficult, because I’m very nosy and I like to know what’s happening,” Dieme recalled. “For the first couple of years, I had no clue. My dad and my stepmom had to take two weeks off work and go to school with me and translate everything.”

Eventually, she found ways to communicate on her own. Thanks to elementary school teachers who spoke her native French and thanks to a continued commitment to adjust to her new surroundings, she quickly found her place in a culture that featured a separate set of values.

“The biggest thing was the culture shock,” she recalled, pointing specifically to the different dynamics in terms of family. In Senegal, she explained, she claimed a vast network of extended family – cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and other relatives spanning generations. In America, the structure was different. “My stepmom talks to her family and she loves them, but they’re not always together. I find that odd, because I would constantly be with my entire family.”

Despite those differences, Dieme forged her own support networks. A big part of that puzzle fell into place when she enrolled at Smoky Hill High School last year. She found a sense of belonging with new friends and supportive teachers. She felt a newfound purpose participating in extracurricular activities and focusing on academics. She even found chances to speak her native French in classes and in clubs.

The importance of that network is paramount as Nathalie enters her final year as a high school student. She’s built up specific plans for her life after Smoky Hill. She wants to follow the example of her father and attend law school. Ultimately, she wants to practice personal injury law.

“It comes from my dad. He practiced law in France,” she explained.
When she speaks of her future in law school and beyond, Nathalie is comfortable and confident, qualities she says she attributes in part to the community she’s found at Smoky Hill High School.

“There’s a community here. There’s school spirit. There are resources,” she said. “We have a lecture center in every single subject. Off periods are useful; I do my homework. There’s also a strong connection between the teachers and the students. You can always find someone to talk to here.”

While the Smoky Hill community will never take the place of the family she left behind in Senegal, it’s helped Nathalie Dieme overcome the lingering traces of culture shock. It’s also helped steer the course for her life’s next chapter.

-- Posted Aug. 25, 2014

Posted 8/25/2014 9:21 AM
“There’s a community here. There’s school spirit. There are resources. We have a lecture center in every single subject. Off periods are useful; I do my homework. There’s also a strong connection between the teachers and the students. You can always find someone to talk to here.”
-- Nathalie Dieme, Smoky Hill High School senior
Copyright © Cherry Creek School District #5, 4700 S. Yosemite Street, Greenwood Village, CO 80111 | 303-773-1184
Cherry Creek School District No. 5 does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in admission to its programs, services or activities, in access to them, in treatment of individuals, or in any aspect of their operations. The lack of English language skills shall not be a barrier to admission or participation in the district’s activities and programs. The Cherry Creek School District No. 5 also does not discriminate in its hiring or employment practices. This notice is provided as required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Questions, complaints, or requests for additional information regarding these laws may be forwarded to the designated compliance officer: District Compliance Officer or directly to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Region VIII, Federal Office Building 1244 North Speer Blvd., Suite #310, Denver, CO 80204.

You are now leaving the Cherry Creek School District (CCSD) portal. Please note that CCSD does not control nor can it guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, completeness, or appropriateness of any content contained on web sites and/or pages outside of the official CCSD portal. The information or opinions contained on these web sites and/or pages do not necessarily represent the views of the CCSD.

With access to the internet comes the availability of material that may not be of educational value or appropriate for students. While at school, CCSD has taken precautions to restrict access to inappropriate or harmful web sites. However, on the internet it is impossible to control all materials and limit all access to information that has no educational value. CCSD firmly believes that the valuable information and the interaction available on the internet far outweigh the possibility that users may procure material that is not consistent with the educational goals of CCSD.