Everyday Orcas Island High School students come to school and see many faces. We walk down the halls passing by all sorts of other people. We may never talk to many of the people in the school, we may never learn their stories or where they came from. Our high school is filled with incredible people, from incredible places. People who come from many different places and cultures. One of those people is Luis Arevalo. Luis has lived on Orcas Island for a large part of his life. He knows the people and the “island way,” but he has also spent a large part of his life living in Villa Mazatan Chiapas, a town down South of Mexico near the Guatemala border.
“I was born on Orcas,” he explained, “but I went back to Mexico after that.” Luis has lived in both places for a very long time, and he has experienced both Orcas Island and Mazatan to the fullest, but he says they are hard to compare. “They both are very different in culture and environment,” he said. Where he lived it was much hotter, and it barely rained. Coming from that to the wet Pacific Northwest is quite the change. But Luis enjoys it here nonetheless.
There are still many things that are different about the two places. One could be the schools. In Mexico the schools were more connected to the outdoors, Luis said, due to the heat. Students would not be shut up inside away from the cold, because there wasn’t much cold. He also said the schools had less access to research tools and technologies. There were fewer books and computers for students to use. He also said it was easier to learn for him in Mexico because of the lack of a language barrier.
One of the biggest cultural differences Luis talked about was the freedom you have in Mexico. That is something he said he misses the most. Every day he could run out in the streets and play soccer, or pick fruit right off of trees and eat it without anyone yelling at you. There was less crime and places were cleaner, especially around the farms. He also was sure to add, however, that this freedom can have consequences, and should not be something people take advantage of.
Luis returned to Orcas last year after living in Mazatan for a very long time. Seeing how tall his friends had become and how much everyone had grown was shocking. He says he misses Mexico, but he still enjoys it here very much. Someday he hopes to go back and visit family and the culture he loves. Luis comes from an amazing place, and he is just one of many people with incredible stories.