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Out of Africa

By Melanie Erspamer
Published: March 2011
On the West coast of South Africa, the city of Durban lies on the edge of the Indian Ocean.
Until a while ago, Durban’s white sands and blue waters were home to Bronwynn Dehrmann, who is now a senior at South.
In October of this year, Dehrmann’s plane landed in Boston. A few days later, she was a member of the South community.
Although she came to a new school much bigger than her South African one, she was ready to meet new people, but found it harder than she had thought.
“People aren’t that friendly here,” Dehrmann said. “Whereas in South Africa, people are the nicest people ever.”
The kindness of strangers and acquaintances in South Africa is something Dehrmann longs for.
Dehrmann found that people in Newton, although more diverse than people in Durban, were at first reluctant to introduce themselves.
This is not because she is different; in fact, the “melting pot” of people is her favorite part of South.
“I enjoy [the diversity],” Dehrmann said. “In South Africa, it’s not that [diverse] and there’s a lot of separation with the different races. [At Newton South], there’s no one around that’s ever going to judge you.”
As a matter of fact, one of Dehrmann’s best friends, Olga Rapaport, was born in a different country as well.
When Rapaport first met Dehrmann, she did not make any negative judgments based on where Dehrmann came from.
“When you come from a different country, it’s hard to adjust to things,” Rapaport said. “I came to the United States when I was seven; I came from Russia.”
Although Rapaport was not born in America either, she notices a few differences in her experiences compared to Dehrmann’s.
“She calls certain things [a different name], like her cell phone she calls ‘mobile’,” Rapaport said. “I understand her, but sometimes it’s funny how she talks in her own way.”
The way Dehrmann speaks is actually what first attracted Rapaport, who liked Dehrmann’s accent.
Since the first day they were introduced each other, they have talked more and more, and are now very good friends.
In fact, Dehrmann has found many places and friends here that she loves, even though her friends from South Africa are what she misses the most.
“My favorite thing here would be Starbucks,” Dehrmann said.  “I’m just a social butterfly, so hanging out with people makes me happy.”
Acting and singing make Dehrmann happy as well. Her future and move to America are centered on those passions.
“I originally was thinking about studying acting and singing,” Dehrmann said. “It’s great in America, whereas in South Africa if you wanted to do something like that you wouldn’t get very far.”
Going along with her daughter’s interests, Dehrmann’s mother began looking around for job opportunities in the United States.
When she found one, she had a work transfer, and Dehrmann followed her mother to the U.S. where Dehrmann could pursue her ambitions.
Once at South, she quickly enrolled in acting class.
“Bronwynn fit into the advanced acting class quickly and easily, contributing opinions and being accepted almost automatically by the other students,” Jim Honeyman, her acting teacher, said. “She has adjusted extremely well, and it has been a pleasure teaching and getting to know her.”
Now, at the point in senior year where students are beginning to decide what they will do next year, Dehrmann has found a place at the New York Film Academy, where she will be able to pursue her love for singing and acting.
Dehrmann did not have to take the SAT to get accepted.
“I actually haven’t taken the SAT yet because it wasn’t required,” Dehrmann said. “But I think I’m going to take them now.”
Although there is nothing like the SAT in South Africa, Dehrmann is ready to try more “American” activities while stillholding on to her South African identity.
“She likes South Africa,” Rapaport said. “I think she’s proud of who she is.”

On the West coast of South Africa, the city of Durban lies on the edge of the Indian Ocean.  Until a while ago, Durban’s white sands and blue waters were home to Bronwynn Dehrmann, who is now a senior at South.  In October of this year, Dehrmann’s plane landed in Boston. A few days later, she was a member of the South community.  Although she came to a new school much bigger than her South African one, she was ready to meet new people, but found it harder than she had thought. “People aren’t that friendly here,” Dehrmann said. “Whereas in South Africa, people are the nicest people ever.” The kindness of strangers and acquaintances in South Africa is something Dehrmann longs for. Dehrmann found that people in Newton, although more diverse than people in Durban, were at first reluctant to introduce themselves.  This is not because she is different; in fact, the “melting pot” of people is her favorite part of South. “I enjoy [the diversity],” Dehrmann said. “In South Africa, it’s not that [diverse] and there’s a lot of separation with the different races. [At Newton South], there’s no one around that’s ever going to judge you.”   As a matter of fact, one of Dehrmann’s best friends, Olga Rapaport, was born in a different country as well. When Rapaport first met Dehrmann, she did not make any negative judgments based on where Dehrmann came from. “When you come from a different country, it’s hard to adjust to things,” Rapaport said. “I came to the United States when I was seven; I came from Russia.” Although Rapaport was not born in America either, she notices a few differences in her experiences compared to Dehrmann’s. “She calls certain things [a different name], like her cell phone she calls ‘mobile’,” Rapaport said. “I understand her, but sometimes it’s funny how she talks in her own way.” The way Dehrmann speaks is actually what first attracted Rapaport, who liked Dehrmann’s accent.  Since the first day they were introduced each other, they have talked more and more, and are now very good friends.  In fact, Dehrmann has found many places and friends here that she loves, even though her friends from South Africa are what she misses the most.  “My favorite thing here would be Starbucks,” Dehrmann said.  “I’m just a social butterfly, so hanging out with people makes me happy.”  Acting and singing make Dehrmann happy as well. Her future and move to America are centered on those passions.  “I originally was thinking about studying acting and singing,” Dehrmann said. “It’s great in America, whereas in South Africa if you wanted to do something like that you wouldn’t get very far.” Going along with her daughter’s interests, Dehrmann’s mother began looking around for job opportunities in the United States. When she found one, she had a work transfer, and Dehrmann followed her mother to the U.S. where Dehrmann could pursue her ambitions. Once at South, she quickly enrolled in acting class.  “Bronwynn fit into the advanced acting class quickly and easily, contributing opinions and being accepted almost automatically by the other students,” Jim Honeyman, her acting teacher, said. “She has adjusted extremely well, and it has been a pleasure teaching and getting to know her.” Now, at the point in senior year where students are beginning to decide what they will do next year, Dehrmann has found a place at the New York Film Academy, where she will be able to pursue her love for singing and acting. Dehrmann did not have to take the SAT to get accepted. “I actually haven’t taken the SAT yet because it wasn’t required,” Dehrmann said. “But I think I’m going to take them now.”  Although there is nothing like the SAT in South Africa, Dehrmann is ready to try more “American” activities while stillholding on to her South African identity. “She likes South Africa,” Rapaport said. “I think she’s proud of who she is.”

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