Imagine it’s 1 a.m. and pitch black outside. You wake up to start an 11-mile trek as you’ve done for the last six months – only stopping once the sun comes up. Last year, this was Axsel E.’s life.
At 12 years old, Axsel accomplished a feat many kids his age could not imagine. Toting only a backpack, water and encouraging words from his mother, the pair walked from Tegucigalpa, Honduras to Dallas with purpose and determination, in the direction of hope.
“No te preocupes; vamos a pasar bien,” his mother would reassure him. “Don’t worry; we’ll get through.”
A year later, his mother’s encouragement got him to where he is today. Now, Axsel is a student at Sam Tasby Middle School, where hope is a reality.
Alexandra Hademenos, an English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) instructor at Tasby, was surprised to learn about Axsel’s journey during a reading lesson.
“I asked all of my students about how they came here. Some might have three or four flights, and other kiddos may have taken a car, bus, or combo. He’s my only student who said he walked the whole way, and that was really eye opening,” Hademenos said.
Since the moment Axsel stepped into Ms. Hademenos’ classroom, he has been one of her strongest English speakers even though he knew little to no English before his arrival. He is a bright student who rarely allows adversity to stop him from being a typical eighth grader, the teacher says.
“Axsel treats those around him with a kindness that knows no language or cultural barrier. Given his motivation to excel in anything he sets his mind to, it is clear that the sky is truly the limit for someone like him,” Hademenos said.
Apart from attending Conrad High School next year as a freshman, Axsel’s current focus is on adapting to his new life and just being a kid. “I like swimming, watching television, and FaceTiming my sister who will be joining me sometime this year,” he says.
“I’m not sure where the road will lead him after Conrad High School, but I do know the world can expect great things and the world could use a few more Axsels,” Hademenos said.