Being born to parents who speak Chinese, my first language was Chinese. Growing up, I struggled learning the complex language of English. I had to be in ELD, English Literacy Development, class for years and only until I went to middle school, did I not go to ELD anymore. I was relentlessly made fun of for my grammar in school and I was always afraid to bring Chinese food for lunch because I was scared of people making fun of me.
At a young age, I recognized my private and public identity as discrete from the rest. English as my unknown language with unrecognizable sounds, and as I was to speak English, there was always an audience. I grew up in isolation not being able to express myself like any other American citizen. My cultural background haunted me in a negative way that I became anxious to dominate the English language. I went through enough discrimination to the point that I value the Anti-bilingual Act.
I had no idea how to tell her my name, since she did not know English, but I just wrote my name. I was enthralled to see that she nodded her head. She could read English,, but could not speak it or listen to someone else without wavering and being confused. Three years passed, and I was thirteen. It felt as if it would be a tedious amount of time until I reached home.
When I was six years old, living in Ethiopia, my dad won an American green card visa lottery among 53,000 people. Although it was exciting news, family members were discouraged because my dad could not afford the visa processing and traveling expense. However, he found a sponsor in Seattle, which allowed him to settle in America. As soon as he found a good house and a stable job, he started the process for me and my family. Multiple errors and obstacles delayed our processing for five years.
At first, the social peculiarity given to me by my migration status and language limitations made me a victim of bullying, which made me want to go back to the safety and similarity of my home country. However, the persistent nature engraved in me by my parents did not allow me to give in to the constant discriminatory voices that kept telling me that I would never be "American" enough.
Leaving Ecuador at the age 14 and coming to New York was the hardest decision I had to make. It wasn’t easy to come to a place where everything is new. The biggest challenge was learning the language. English used to give me a hard time in the school. In high school, I needed to carry a dictionary with me all the time; I took remedial classes and spent hours doing regular homework.
My parents were rubber tree farmers. The government owns the trees so we didn’t make much money. Every day after school, I had to go and help my parents at the farm. I didn’t have time to study for another language at home; beside, my schools didn’t allow me to take an English class. The simple reason was that I’m not a teacher’s kid.
Richard Rodriguez, author of “Aria: A Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood” grew up speaking Spanish at home for the beginning of his life, and having the great connection with family that most hope for during their lifetime. This all suddenly changed when he entered school. Starting at a young age, Richard was surrounded by all English-speaking people that he could not communicate well with. The only instances where English would be would have been during public outings, and interaction with others. At home, his parents also struggled to speak English making the situation even harder on Richard.
Moving to America, at 14 years old, was my biggest challenge because I found it hard to adjust to life in a new country. The food was different, the people were hard to understand, the school was strange—it was like another planet. The difficulty fitting in made me miss England constantly, and I found myself longing to return. After a few months of failing to adapt to my new setting, I started to curiously learn about Buddhism.
Taking my very first steps into the United States at 10 years old, I naïvely thought that becoming an immigrant only meant enduring a bumpy plane ride. I was a boy, unaware of the challenging events that would significantly impact my life. Disguised in those events though, were valuable lessons that taught me about overcoming the tides of change. My first time attending a class in the United States, my heart dropped at finding out how significantly behind I was in the curriculum. Compounding to my feeling of alienation and discouragement, were many classmates that found it fun to mock me for my appearance and how I spoke.
He came home from school one day, his parents were talking. It wasn’t until after they had switched to English that he realized they had been speaking Spanish. Now you would think having been born to English speaking parents, here in the United States, that I wouldn’t understand a language barrier. Growing up I watched my cousin struggle to communicate with others. He lost his hearing when he was 5 years old.
“Ding Dong, Flight 6684 to Island County, Washington, USA, has just landed, I repeat, Flight 6684 to Island County, has just landed”. It was all by pure luck that we were moving to Island County, or maybe, it was déjà vu. Previously, traversing around different countries in Asia, I was content and overjoyed to finally venture to a first worst country. My childhood was rough, lingering around people who spoke a multitude of languages that I will never fathom, wearing cultured clothing that I would be embarrassed to express myself in, taking part in local festivals that I had no impulse and desire to engage in, and eating mainland food that I disgusted. My whole life has been a mess, always on the move, from place to place, without the ability
As a child in a new country where I didn't know how to speak English, It was very terrifying. My family decided to come to the United States for a “better life”. For many immigrants, transitioning can become very difficult. A few weeks into my eighth grade the class,we were assigned a book to read “Flowers for Algernon” and I really enjoyed it. I loved the book, I would read ahead and I would answer every question the teacher has given to the class.
I came to the United States from the Philippines when I was twelve years old. After spending a very short time in Los Angeles, I moved to North Carolina to live with my new parents. My new mother spoke Ilicono, my native language, but my father only knew a few words and phrases. They immediately enrolled me in school, in hindsight, probably prematurely. Since my education in the Philippines was at a religious school that did very little to teach me mathematics or English, I was classified as English deficient and placed in the Doris Henderson Newcomers School.