Life Academy Perspectives: Our Immigration Stories

By Gilberto Hernandez, Sophomore

To listen to the audio: Life Isn’t Easy

Life Isn’t Easy

Life isn’t easy, especially when you change countries.

Staring a new life, new environment, new friends, new school, new language… it’s really hard.

When I first got to this country, all of my problems with my family and friends made me want to stop living. But death was not the best solution to my problems.

While it might not seem like such a big deal, changing countries meant I left not only El Salvador and all my family behind– including my abuela and my little primo–  it also meant I left my personality behind.

When I lived in El Salvador, I really enjoyed helping people out.  I was the type of kid who wanted to discover new things, who was curious and who made everybody laugh.

But when I got here, I lost all that. I stopped caring about helping people out, I was no longer interested in discovering new things, or making people laugh. I became like a shell of my previous self.

When I was in El Salvador, I had a good childhood; I wasn’t in gangs and I had fun in the streets without anyone yelling at me.  People might think that El Salvador is dangerous but for me, it’s the opposite.  In El Salvador I felt safer than I do here in the U.S.

Life in the United States is more difficult.  I’m still learning English and I do not have as many friends as I had in El Salvador.

When I play outside I need to be careful to not bother the neighbors or get into problems with the police. Some people are racist, especially when a person is “mojado”, or undocumented.

But slowly, I am starting to smile again.  I am making new friends and learning more English.  Doing my homework has become easier and I mostly understand what my maestros are saying.

The small changes in my life made me feel like the world was upside down.  I didn’t want to live in this strange world.  But I was patient. I found people I could trust.  And I realized that with time I could learn to make this foreign place my home.

I have taken with me some of my Salvadorian roots, including this phrase: “Cuando la vida te presente razones para llorar, demonstrable que tienes mil y una razones para reir”

When life gives you reasons to cry, show that you have a 1,001 reasons to smile.

With a perspective, I’m Gilberto Hernandez.

___________________________________________________________________

By Guicela Sanchez, Sophomore

Listent to the audio: Immigrating to the U.S

Immigrating to the U.S

When I was 6 years old I came to the United States with 2 strangers. Even today I don’t remember what they look like or their names. I was just a child when I left Guatemala, and I remember crying because I didn’t want to leave my grandparents and I didn’t know what was happening. But my grandpa told me that I was his favorite granddaughter and that I always would be. “Pase lo que pase el dijo siempre estaras en mi Corazon,” he told me with red eyes as if he were about to cry.  At 6, I had never even seen my mom, except in some pictures. From the pictures, I daydreamed about what life would be like when we were together—dancing and playing soccer, cutting my barbie’s hair together. I thought my mom looked beautiful and like a good role model. One day she called and told my grandma that I was going to leave Guatemala; the next day I was on a plane with some strangers.

My mom said that she had contacted a young married couple who would help me get to the U.S. My grandma prepared me, saying that when the couple came to get me I had to act as if they were my real parents. I was terrified and excited at the same time because I was going to see my mother for the first time.  But there were a lot of questions bouncing around in my head. How were some strangers going to know to take me to my mom? What if it was all an act for them to keep me and raise me as their own child? What if something happened to me along the way and I would never get to see my mom or my grandparents again?

But before I could answer any of these questions I was walking though the airport with these strangers who were supposed to be my parents. A random lady came up to me and said, “quien son ellos que vienen contigo?” “Who are those people you are with?” I paused for a moment before I answered, “Ellos son mis padres.” “They’re my parents.”

With a perspective, I’m Guicela Sanchez.

____________________________________________________________________

By Junwei Liao, Sophomore

To listen to the audio: Learning English

Learning English

The fact that I can write this piece of writing today is pretty amazing. It contains more hard work than just the words on the page.

Five years ago, when my family and I moved to the U.S. from China, I barely knew any English. I can still remember the first day of sixth grade in the U.S. When I walked into the school, I had no idea what people around me were taking about.

I sat in the class the whole period, without understanding a single word my teacher or my new classmates said. I felt isolated by a giant language barrier. I knew that the only way to survive in this foreign country would be to try my best to learn English. It was challenging, but I knew that if I worked hard, I would someday have the same English skill as native speakers.

English is not easy for people who learn it as second language. There are only 26 letters in English, but there are thousands of words spelled in different ways and have different meanings. I made a plan to study English.

First, I would try my best to read simple sentences from textbooks by their spelling, and then translate the sentences. I would check the dictionary for words I didn’t understand, and then write the word five times, memorizing its spelling, pronunciation, and definition. From sentences I upgraded to paragraphs, and then to articles from English newspapers.

My vocabulary increased a lot in a month after I used this method. I started to focus more on grammar. I studied how different words worked together to make up a sentence.

From grammar I moved to writing. I began with writing a simple sentence everyday, then a paragraph, and finally, I wrote my first English essay in class and got an A- on my writing, I was proud of myself.

Today, five years later, my hard work helped me to achieve my goal of speaking, reading, and writing in fluent English as native speakers. Now I can understand and communicate to people with clear responses. My writings often get high scores.

The most important lesson I learned is that if you work hard, you can achieve anything.

With a perspective, I’m Junwei Liao.

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