Student immigrated from Middle East

Student immigrated from Middle East

Growing up, many kids are told the stories of their ancestors coming to America; a land of opportunity and hope. These stories are passed down from generation to generation, and speak of the different times and ways of life from one’s native countries.

Plain Local often recognizes the importance of diversity, and GlenOak High School has the very names that keep the district the melting pot of the Federal League.

Cedric Harfouche, a senior, hailed from Lebanon in fifth grade. Along with his two older siblings, Harfouche traveled to America with his mother, having to leave his father in Lebanon to run his two businesses. The Harfouche family already had relatives in Canton, making the 330 a realistic destination for the new residents.

“Scholarship money, internships, jobs. The opportunity for growth is much greater here,” Harfouche said. “College is drastically less expensive, and there are more options for career paths.”

In Lebanon, education operates under the French System. Not only do they start school at a much younger age, they also demand higher performance.

“In the French system, it is all one school. First graders to seniors all learn in one school,” Harfouche said.

Compared to the American routine, the French system operates under stricter, more concise track.

“There is one big final at the end of every year, summarizing all of your classes. You pick a science, math or history pathway, and they chose your classes for you,” Harfouche said.

Along with the educational differences Harfouche faced when he came here, the cultural aspects were different too.

“Prestige is a big factor in society in Lebanon. People care so much about what other people think of them, that they make sure they have the nicest stuff,” Harfouche said. “People will wear suits to the mall, where here, people wear sweatpants and a hoodie.”

A common stereotype for the Middle East, is that it is full of dangerous people and scenery. While this is not even remotely the case, Americans also face similar safety threats.

“Lebanon is a lot like the US in that way. There are places you go, and places you know not to go. It is just the same as Canton,” Harfouche said.

When the Harfouche family came to America, they only spoke French and Arabic. Cedric looked up to his older siblings Magaly and Cyril, for guidance in the new country. Magaly and Cyril graduated from GlenOak, setting the pace for Cedric. Cyril is in his sophomore year at NeoMed and Magaly attends University of Akron where she is currently studying finance and international business abroad in Paris.

“I look up to my siblings. Cyril helps push me academically where Magaly makes sure I am having fun no matter what I am doing,” Harfouche said.

Living in the United States has been a journey for Cedric. But with the family he has here, and his friends, it has been a great experience. Stories like his are becoming more and more common as foreigners travel to America for opportunity and new beginnings. Cedric plans on attending The Ohio State University in the fall where he will major in computer engineering.