Leaders From the Other Side of the World

Staff Photo

Student Council co-presidents Bethia Busingye and Amelia Epperson are not only from different countries, they’re from different continents. Busingye immigrated to the United States from Rwanda, Africa four years ago, and Epperson moved to the United States from Melbourne, Australia about three years ago. 

Epperson and Busingye joined Student Council together when they were sophomores and now run the club together. 

“It’s good that we’re already friends, because we already know how to work with each other,” Epperson said. “Look at us, (Student Council) presidents, three years later.” 

Despite being in the United States for several years, the two seniors have had challenges, especially adjusting to life in a foreign country. “Well, I have family here,”  Epperson said. “I came here once before when I was 10. So I kind of have a feel for it. I wasn’t terrified, but it was still kind of scary and, it’s a new school, it’s way bigger than any school I’ve ever been to. It was a little culture shock.” 

“People have different, really weird questions to ask you,” Busingye said. “And I had to make a lot of adjustments, like with my accent. I had to start putting on an American accent in order for people to understand me, because kids would (be) like ‘That’s not how you say that.’ So it was kind of a big difference, and people were a lot less nice.” 

Epperson agrees with this, saying, “I feel like there was a little bit of discrimination with us. Like, your (Busingye’s) accent, people are like, ‘Oh my God that’s weird, what are you saying?’ and (with) my accent people are like, ‘Oh my God it’s so great.’” 

Epperson and Busingye feel that it’s important to have an example of foreigners running a school club. “It makes other students (feel) like they are welcome to come,” Busingye said. 

“I’ve seen many students who are foreign, and…they don’t join any clubs, (because) they feel like they’ll be out of place. (But they’ll) be like, there’s two foreigners running Student Council.” 

Natalie Bronson, the sponsor of Student Council, feels that Epperson and Busingye represent Jeff High well. “I truly feel that Amelia and Bethia, both being from different countries, genuinely and accurately represent the dynamics of Jeff High,” Bronson said. “We have a diverse group of students and it is not only shown in the student body as a whole, but in the leadership roles we have throughout the school that students hold.”

Story By: Greta Reel

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