Isabel Alejandra Díaz graduated from Ísafjörður High School, the West Fjords, with the highest grade of all students in the subject of Icelandic, RÚV reports. She wore the Icelandic national costume she had sewn herself as she accepted an award for her performance.
In 2001, at the age of five, Isabel moved to Iceland with her grandparents, after being persecuted by a criminal organization that had murdered her great grandparents, blackmailed the family and caused them to escape from El Salvador. After having stayed for some time in the US, they left for Iceland, where a female relative had married an Icelander. They settled in the West Fjords.
The following decade, the family fought for Isabel to get a residence permit. The issue was complicated, because her grandparents were also her adoptive parents. The residence permit had to be periodically renewed. What made matters more difficult was that the family’s lawyer perished in an earthquake in El Salvador, resulting in the loss of all Isabel’s legal documents. Thus, Isabel lived in fear of deportation, until she finally became an Icelandic citizen in 2014.
“I understand I learned Icelandic quickly. Right away, I began interpreting for Mom and Dad,” she told mbl.is. “I think I’ve proven that my Icelandic is rather good. I speak Icelandic better than Spanish.”
Icelandic and history are Isabel’s favorite subjects. “I just find Icelandic so interesting. In the classes I took, we didn’t just study grammar and spelling. Among other things, we studied the Icelandic sagas. That’s my filed of interest, the Icelandic sagas, everything Icelandic. That’s what I love.”
Isabel is not leaving Ísafjörður just yet. “’Isafjörður is very dear to me. In a year, I’m going to university. I want to study tourism and Spanish, so I can speak it as well as Icelandic. This is my area of interest, history, culture and languages.”
It’s been a long journey for Isabel. As she puts it, “unbelievable things have happened.”