From the Democratic Republic of Congo to a Dallas High School

The son of refugees says he’s ready to help others make the adjustment.

By Stella M. ChávezMarch 8, 2015 9:35 pm

For David Kapuku, the first few months at school were rough.

He wasn’t just new to Dallas, he was new to the United States. Kapuku and his three siblings arrived from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Two weeks later, Kapuku started high school in a new country where the students speak a different language. He says that experience was overwhelming.

“We are frustrated the first day, you know, because I knew only French, so we didn’t know how to speak English,” Kapuku says.

In the Dallas Independent School District, students come from 147 different countries and speak more than 60 languages. DISD has more than 1,300 refugee students, most of whose families are qualify as low-income.

In Texas, one in three children has a parent who’s an immigrant – or they’re immigrants themselves. They have to learn a new language, adapt to a different culture and try to fit into a community that may not embrace newcomers.

KERA’s American Graduate: Generation One series follows these first-generation Texans and the educators weaving them into the American tapestry. We’ll be featuring their stories, all this week on Texas Standard.