MARYSVILLE — When Fahana Bijapuri first moved from India to Marysville in the eighth grade, she had a hard time getting to know people.
Since then, she has served as class president and has started to tutor younger students.
Bijapuri, 17, is a senior at Legacy High School in Tulalip. The campus used to be a combination of two high schools: Mountain View, and Arts and Technology. The school was renamed this year.
After graduation, Bijapuri plans to attend Everett Community College before transferring to a university. She hopes to someday be a psychologist for teenagers.
Question: What was it like to move to a new country during middle school?
Answer: It was a big change. The accent was really difficult. The first year I didn’t understand half the things people said. I was so confused all the time.
I think I adapted more quickly (than my family), because I was going to school and talking to people. Well, I wasn’t really talking, but I got to hear them talk. That helped me to learn the accent and understand faster than my mom.
Q: What languages do you speak?
A: I can speak Murathi, Hindi, English and my mother tongue is Urdu, and I can understand Marwari. I know how to write and read Arabic, but I can’t understand or speak it.
Q: How did you learn them all?
A: In school in India, Murathi and Hindi is a language you have to take as a class. Hindi is the language everyone speaks where I lived. Urdu is similar to Hindi, so I guess it was kind of a necessity to communicate.
Q: How long have you known English?
A: Ever since I started school, because I went to an English school. It was a British school.
Q: What do you hope to do after high school?
A: I want to study psychology.
Q: How’d you become interested in that?
A: I was watching a show, “Bones,” and there’s a character, The Shrink. He could tell just by how people answer questions if they are guilty or not. I was like, “I want to know.” But I don’t want to do criminal psychology. At first I did, but I got more into adolescent psych. I think I want to help teenagers now.
A: I think it was mostly seeing everyone here, or just teenagers in general, and they make the wrong choices sometimes. I just want to know why.
Q: Plans for college?
A: I’m thinking of going to EvCC for two years, then switching to a university. I want to go to WSU, but that’s far and I don’t know how happy my parents would be. So we’ll see how that goes.
Q: Could you talk about tutoring?
A: Last year I started being an AVID tutor. It was nice helping the new students who are coming in.
(AVID stands for Advanced Via Individual Determination. It’s a college prep program for students who are traditionally underrepresented in higher education.)
Freshman and sophomores have to take it — I don’t think it’s optional. I never would have talked to freshmen as much as I do if I wasn’t a tutor.
I feel like they’re doing great. I got two of them to run for class office last year. I’m hoping they win again this year.
Q: How have you been involved in student government?
A: Right now I am running for senior class president, but I don’t have the position yet. I was junior class president last year.
Sophomore year my friend ran for president, and I didn’t know what anything was, so I was like, “OK, I’ll run for vice president.”
Junior year I ran for president and it just went from there.
Q: Any challenges you’ve overcome?
A: When I moved here it was really difficult to get to know people, because I wasn’t able to talk as well. In eighth grade everyone knew each other and I didn’t know anyone. I was new. I didn’t have any friends or anything, so that kind of lowered my confidence. That’s why I decided to go to a smaller high school.
When I came here my freshman year everyone was super welcoming. It was really nice. I got to know people here. My friends encouraged me to talk during class, and that boosted my confidence. I wouldn’t have even been able to talk to you right now if it wasn’t for them. I couldn’t even talk to teachers. It was really hard.
Q: Were you nervous?
A: I just didn’t think I’d be able to communicate properly. I was just, like, lowering myself inside. Telling myself I couldn’t do it.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A: I took the youth aerospace program (at EvCC) in the summer and I think that helped me a lot, too. It was really motivating, because it gets you ready for after high school and the workplace. They had a lot of activities where you had to talk to people and make eye contact and shake hands. That was a big help for me.