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He's a translator at 13!
The Republican
09/08/2003

By NATALIA E. ARBUL┌ Staff writer
narbulu@repub.com

After living in the United States for nearly four years, Bryan A. Alvarado considers English his first language.

Bryan, 13, and his mother, Aura I. Marcille, left Bogota, Colombia for Springfield in December 1999 so Marcille could marry her then fiancÚ Bruce D. Marcille.

The couple had met two years earlier when Aura Marcille was on vacation in the area and taking English classes in Northampton at the International Institute of Language where Bruce Marcille was a bookkeeper.

Marcille said uprooting herself and her son from Colombia was a difficult decision made completely out of love for her husband.

In Colombia, Marcille had a successful job as a systems analyst at a bank, sent Bryan to a private school, and was surrounded by family.

"It was a life choice. But I have never regretted it," Marcille said.

For both mother and son, assimilation into American culture and customs was difficult.

Aura Marcille spent a year studying English at the Northampton institution while Bryan spent two years in bilingual education classes at Glenwood Elementary School.

"At first it was a little difficult because I didn't know how to fit in or know English," Bryan said.

With the support of his parents and teachers, Bryan finished elementary school with the honor of valedictorian and went on to mainstream classes at Van Sickle Middle School, where he is now a seventh-grader.

Bryan is more comfortable conversing in English, much to the sadness of his mother, and speaks it perfectly.

Yet, his language skills are an asset to his family and to others.

Aura and Bruce Marcille communicate with each other mostly in English.

Aura Marcille is still learning English and her husband learns Spanish with Bryan's assistance.

Bryan translates English words to his mother and Spanish words to his step-father.

"Whenever we reach an impasse, Bryan is there," Bruce Marcille said.

Bruce Marcille said he has learned much from Bryan. "I couldn't have asked for a better kid if I designed him myself," he said.

During his time at Glenwood, Bryan helped other English learners at school.

He dreams of becoming an astronaut and flying to Mars.

He has a yellow belt in "kajukenbo," a type of martial art that originate in Hawaii, has been learning to fly Piper Warrior planes out of Northampton Airport, and enjoys science fiction.

Aura Marcille is also fulfilling her dream of being a teacher. She teachers pre-schoolers at HeadStart and studies early childhood education at Springfield Technical Community College.

"I am grateful to this country for opening its doors to me," she said.

Bryan credits his teachers at Glenwood and his parents for helping him succeed in a new country.

His plans to become an American citizen when he turns 18.