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Venezuelan siblings quickly made Chestatee High their new home
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Juan and Isabel Rosillo Hernandez - photo by Erin O. Smith

Juan and Isabel Rosillo Hernandez had a few more things on their plate than the average high school senior.

The Chestatee High School siblings have been learning English and adjusting to their new home country after moving to Hall County from Venezuela.

Juan, Isabel, their younger brother and their parents moved in August 2015 because of upheaval unfolding in their country.

The brother and sister recall sitting alone at lunch the first few days at Chestatee. But ever since, they have gotten involved in sports and clubs at the school, made friends and quickly learned English.

Both Juan and Isabel are soccer players, and Isabel is part of the school swimming team and the Hispanic Organization Promoting Education.

The siblings felt pressure at the beginning to perform well.

“We were trying not to let anyone down,” Juan said.

But now they are able to help others. If there’s a student who doesn’t know much English — or even one who doesn’t know much Spanish — Juan and Isabel feel they “can be a helper for them,” Juan said.

The siblings are grateful for the support they’ve received from their parents, teachers and friends.

Isabel tore her ACL in a soccer game on Feb. 14 and has needed a lot of assistance since then. One of her fond memories during her recovery is going on a field trip where two of her friends carried her around the whole time.

Juan said he enjoys the different approach to education in the United States. Compared to Venezuela, he said it’s not so regimented, and sometimes it will include going outside the classroom to help reinforce what’s being taught inside.

Juan is 19 and Isabel 18, though some have asked if they’re twins, which makes them laugh.

Isabel is planning to go the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus and major in biology with the hope of becoming a pediatrician.

Juan will likely choose between there and Wingate in North Carolina. He wants to major in accounting. He’s also trying to convince his sister to go to Wingate.

After college, both hope to stay in the United States to pursue their careers.

“We want to stay here and make our own life, have our own experience,” Juan said.

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