Far From Family, A High Schooler Finds Solace In Friendship When Henry Jimenez left his family in Mexico for the U.S., he knew he'd miss them. He didn't know he'd meet a best friend: Akiva Johnson. Nowadays they stick together — "like magnets," Johnson says.
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Far From Family, A High Schooler Finds Solace In Friendship

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Far From Family, A High Schooler Finds Solace In Friendship

Far From Family, A High Schooler Finds Solace In Friendship

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's Friday, time for StoryCorps, which is piloting a year-long education program in high schools across the country. It's called StoryCorpsU, and it teaches students how to do interviews and share their stories. It also allows them to discover the power of their own voice. Today, we'll hear one of those interviews. It's with 17-year-old Henry Jimenez and Akiva Johnson. They're high school students in Brooklyn. Henry moved from Mexico to the U.S. when he was 13.

HENRY JIMENEZ: When we went to the airport, my little brother was crying, and I tried to act tough on him, but I gave him a hug. I've never given him a hug like that before, and I started crying, too.

AKIVA JOHNSON: Do miss your mom all the time?

JIMENEZ: Yeah, you already know this, bro. That's one of the hardest things for me.

JOHNSON: I do understand your feeling, though, because I was separated from my mom for, like, three or four years, I think.

JIMENEZ: It's hard to leave everything, you know? When I first started 8th grade, my English was not that good at all. We had to give a presentation, and everybody was making fun of me. But nine grade, it got better. What are you most proud about?

JOHNSON: I'd say the challenges I've passed. Like, last Christmas, I was in a shelter, and everyone else was getting these big gifts. I didn't get anything that Christmas.

JIMENEZ: You never told me that you was in a shelter.

JOHNSON: Usually, when I have, like, situations, I don't talk to anyone about it. And I felt, like, sad all the time. Bro, you would smile and, like, cheer me up.

JIMENEZ: I might look big and tough, but...

JOHNSON: Teddy bear inside.

JIMENEZ: Yeah, I'm a teddy bear inside (laughter).

JOHNSON: The fact that your outside shines so bright is, like, one of your best attributes.

JIMENEZ: You never give up. That's what I like about you. We always stick together.

JOHNSON: Like magnets.

MONTAGNE: That's 17-year-old Henry Jimenez, speaking with his best friend and classmate Akiva Johnson at Brooklyn's High School for Youth and Community Development. They recorded their interview as part of StoryCorps' youth and education program, StoryCorpsU. It will be archived at the Library of Congress. The StoryCorps podcast is on iTunes at npr.org.

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