Growing, Adapting and Overcoming.

By Kharemah Birch-Gentles  |   From : Jamaica/Florida  |   School : Everglades High School

Hi, my name is Kharemah Birch-Gentles. I am currently 16 years old, and I am in my junior year and Everglades high school. I was born prematurely in Brooklyn, New York in the United States. After I was born, I stayed in the United States for 3 years to continue receiving treatment for my respiratory illness; asthma. I moved to Jamaica when I was about 4 years old. Here I lived with my mother (who is Jamaican.) My father left my mother and subsequently me before I was born.

When I was about 7, I found out I had sisters and I met them for the first time. I was extremely excited and came to love my sisters very much. I began to spend time with my father after he reached out to me. I would spend the weekends at his house. Overtime I began to become uncomfortable at his house because his new wife made me feel unwelcomed, so I stopped going. I did not speak to my father much after I stopped visiting him. I stayed connected with one of my sisters and still talk to her to this day.

During Primary school (grades 1-6) I was terribly angry and rebellious. I often got into trouble for fighting and cursing at teachers. In grades 4-6 I started learning how to manage my anger and emotions. I was also bullied during this time because of the friends I had. I am atypical, unlike most other girls my age I preferred to wear sweatpants and shorts instead of dresses and skirts. I played football and basketball with my friends after school every day. During my 6th grade year my mom told me my grandmother was starting the immigrating filing for her so that we could move to the United States. I didn’t think much of it at the time. 

After getting into a traditional high school, I felt out of place, but I soon joined the Music club. This was a particularly good decision for me because it gave me direction, discipline, and a purpose. It kept me busy which kept me out of trouble. In the 8th grade I joined the basketball team. This was an incredibly happy time in my life because I was playing my favorite sport and I was performing all over the country with the music club. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away within the same year, this made me sad and I ended up distracting myself with my work.

The 9th grade is when everything started changing for me. My mom told me the immigration papers were processed. She told me I would be able to finish high school before leaving. However, at the end of 2019, my mom told me we were leaving for the United States. I was angry and felt betrayed, but I had no say in the matter. She told me we were going to leave on the 28th of July 2020. I could not say goodbye to my friends because the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

In 2020 I moved to the United States with my mother. At first, we lived with my uncle and his wife. After a while we moved into an apartment. I was enrolled in Everglades high school. I started Everglades in the 10th grade. I was relieved when I found out school was going to be online because of the pandemic. I was relieved because I was incredibly nervous to go to school in person. During online school I quickly favored a class by the name of “Latinos in Action” (LIA) and it helped me adapt better and it helped and exercised my socialization skills. 

It is currently December 2021; I am now in the 11th grade and am involved in many activities such as LIA, BSU (black student Union), IDC (international dance club), BPA (body positivity Awareness) and I am a manager of the girls’ basketball team. I am more confident and have met many amazing people who love me. I still miss my friends to this day but I have met new friends and created new bonds. I still talk and stay connected with my friends back in Jamaica every day. 

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.