Seventh grader Sara Bharwani has enrolled in Greenhill mid-trimester after Hurricane Irma forced her to move to the United States from her home country of St. Maarten in the Caribbean.
According to the “Jamaica Observer.” Irma caused approximately 1.4 billion dollars of damage in the Caribbean territories of St. Maarten and St. Barts. Sara and her family experienced a shortage of food, water and electricity due to the storm. During the storm, Sara’s family faced nature in its most destructive state.
“Irma had 200 mph wind and was a category 5+ hurricane. Me and my family began to panic, and at that very moment I was thinking all the possible things that could happen,” said Sara.
With the help of the United States government and Dutch Embassies, Sara and her dog, Marshmallow, were able to make it to Texas while her parents stayed behind to fix their house. Currently, she is staying with her cousins at Greenhill, freshmen Tej and Sonia and sophomore Ronak Dhingra.
As the storm ravaged St. Maarten, Sara had to find ways to deal with the destruction while hiding in her home.
“The windows were shaking, and there were occasional ‘clanks’ because part of the roof was falling. I sat in the safe room alone with my dog trying not to cry my eyes out when the lights went out. I heard glass and yelling as well as loud, harsh winds,” Sara said.
According to Sara, she felt calmer after the eye of the storm passed because she knew that the worst part was over, but that calmness only lasted until she saw the effects on the island as a whole.
“As you’re passing, imagine driving down a road and seeing every single house, car, and trailer falling one on top of each other, and boats are just everywhere,” she said.
Although the effects of the storm were grave, Sara was able to find some positive aspects of the disaster.
“It was actually very devastating, but very fun at the same time. I know that sounds very wrong, but it’s because my friends and I were working together. I’ve never felt that much connection with anybody in my entire life,” Sara said.
Sara has been on campus since September 2. Her initial reactions to the Greenhill community have been warm.
“The people are so nice and the school is so big. Everyone is so welcoming. We don’t really do that in St. Maarten. If you’re new, we introduce you to one class and just move on,” she said.
She is currently taking the core Middle School academic classes, including math, science, English, and history, English being her favorite out of the four. In addition, Sara is also expanding her course load by taking alternative arts courses such as Video Production and painting. She has taken on Spanish as her preferred language.
“I love Video Production. I enjoy the projects we are doing in that class,” Sara said.
The atmosphere that she has been put in has been a big change compared to her life back in St. Maarten. She now gets to experience what it is like to have siblings and live with a bigger family. At home, it’s just Sara, her parents, and her dog.
Although her school did not get damaged in the storm, Sara is glad that Greenhill has taken her into the community.
Story by Raag Venkat, Sarah Luan, Mila Nguyen, Emma Light, and Brent Ladin
Originally published in the November 2017 print issue