Braylin Aquino (‘25) and Darlin Aquino (‘26) share their experience moving from the Dominican Republic to New Jersey

The Aquino siblings sit for a photo with Eastside in the YELL room
The Aquino siblings sit for a photo with Eastside in the YELL room
Julia Sitnick (’25)

Braylin Duran Aquino (’25) and Darlin Duran Aquino (’26) recently moved to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, after living in the Dominican Republic for years. Their dad received news of a new lucrative job opportunity, prompting the Aquino family to move to the US. Despite the differences between East and the schools they attended in the Dominican Republic, Braylin and Darlin are coming to find a “home” at East.

Compared to the Dominican Republic, East is a much larger school that operates from 7:30 am to 2:30 pm, whereas in the Dominican Republic, school hours are from 7:30 am to 1:30 pm. The siblings also noted an American school culture pillar: students change classrooms according to their classes, whereas in their previous school, students stayed in the same class throughout the day, and the teachers moved to them.

Initially, making friends at East was challenging for the brothers as they were unfamiliar with how everyone communicated. However, they found that East was more accommodating and friendlier than anticipated. The brothers expressed that the transition from a cross-continental move was unsettling and entirely different: a new language, culture shock, customs, and social norms.

The brothers expressed that it is hard to acclimate to everyday life speedily because you are thrust into a new environment completely different from everything you have known since childhood; in the Dominican Republic, day-to-day life is entirely different from what someone experiences in America, including language, culture, food, values, and discourse.

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To meet new people and become more comfortable at East, the Aquino siblings have joined clubs and activities, such as the Young English Language Learners (YELL) Club and soccer.

“My English is better when I work closely with other people; I feel more comfortable trying to speak,” said Darlin Aquino.

And, to ease some student discomfort, Ms. Angela Capio, East’s ESL teacher, is committed to connecting with each new student, including the Aquino siblings.

The Aquino brothers stay in touch with their friends and relatives in the Dominican Republic, keeping a connection alive. But, the siblings constantly miss the familiarity and nostalgia of their old home. Regardless, both have fostered a mentality committed to improving and refining the speed at which they acclimate, particularly this newfound language skill set.

Most of their family members live in the United States, though they are scattered throughout the country, which brings comfort during this transition for the Aquino family.

Although they are excited about the opportunity to learn and experience a new culture, the Aquino brothers miss the food in the Dominican Republic, especially Yaroa, a dish with meat, cheese, and mayonnaise on top of potatoes. Although they can make it themselves, nothing compares to the Yaroa from home, the Dominican Republic.

The family plans to visit their relatives in the Dominican Republic within the year.

This move has been a work in progress for the Aquino family, but the siblings are happy to have found a modicum of comfort the Dominican Republic offered here at East.

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