Fom Gabon to Boynton Beach, FL
BOYNTON BEACH Irvine Agaya started school three days after arriving here from Gabon, in west equatorial Africa. She spoke French, but no English. When she went home at the end of the day, her grandmother spoke Creole, which is related to French, but not enough to have an easy conversation. Call it welcome to America, total immersion style.
That was two years ago, when she enrolled at Lake Worth Christian School. Now she speaks flawless English with a lilting French accent and is one of two sophomores with a 4.0 average.
But this is not about how an immigrant overcame a double language barrier. Done and done. Agaya is always coming up with ideas for a better world. Last summer she decided to collect school supplies for children in Haiti. Since then, she and her friend Megan Vande Pol (the other sophomore with a 4.0 average) have amassed 238 and found a sponsor to ship them to Haiti.
"She has a heart for helping kids," Vande Pol said. "Anyone can do something, even if it doesn't seem that big, that can impact a lot of people. Irvine just decided to go for this."
Agaya describes her home life in Gabon as "not rich, but I didn't need anything." But her friend Jaelle had to wake up at 3 a.m. to get on the train to make it to school on time. Sometimes, Jaelle said, she didn't have anything to eat for a day or two at a time.
Jaelle was in her mind when she decided to collect school supplies.
Each zipper-lock plastic bag contains a composition book, a ruler, pencils, glue stick, erasers, scissors and a short Bible verse.On the back of each Bible verse, in French, are the words, "Jesus loves you," hand-written by students who helped fill the plastic bags.
"When the kids get the bags, they will know that people care about them," Peck's-Agaya said,