With Puerto Rico still in ruins, dozens of people on the island are choosing to move to the mainland, and many have already claimed San Antonio as their new home.
One teenage girl just arrived on Thursday evening. Joanelys Bonano is eager to continue her studies in San Antonio. She is just 16 years old and an artist. She brought one of the pieces she worked on while Hurricane Maria battered her home island of Puerto Rico.
As of Thursday, she calls herself a San Antonian. She’s staying with relatives and hopes to finish her high school education here while she prepares for college, and possibly the military.
“I’m a junior,” she said. “Next year I graduate, I don’t want to lose a year. There are no teachers in Puerto Rico.”
She’s excited for her life here but said that leaving home was not an easy decision. She added that she’s very attached to her mom.
“I miss her, and I’ve only been here for one day. I miss my sister too,” said Bonano, who hopes to pursue her art while she’s here, and might enroll at NEISD.
She’s not alone. A spokesperson for the district says that they’ve already accepted eight children from the island. Students who enroll will be accepted as a students are from any other state or U.S. territory and will be assisted in catching up with the curriculum as needed.
The district will also offer counseling for students like Joanelys, something her aunt is thankful for.
“Being a junior in high school and having to go through these changes in language, I know she’s worried and concerned, she’s a good student," her aunt said.
For now, Bonano is looking forward to enjoying San Antonio.
“It’s calm, very calm. I have my family," she said. "They treat me as if I was their own."