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Rodriguez Ramirez is a middle school student. She lives at Father Joe’s Villages. This essay was translated from Spanish by a Father Joe’s Villages staff member.

One of the most important stages of our lives is going through school. It’s full of smiles, joy, friends, fun, walks and also a little bit of tears and fear. I am 13 years old and I have already been on a binational journey of schools — learning and changing in two very different countries.

I want to share with you my lived experience. I started school in Colombia. I finished elementary school there in the country where I was born at a religious school that focused more on teaching prayers. For me, those teachings were not as relevant as academics.

Opinion: I’m a teen who’s gone to school in Columbia, the U.S. – The San Diego Union-Tribune (