Student stories provide a wonderful opportunity for students to share their personal stories and to demonstrate their creative and English language writing skills. They are shared in the hope that they inspire others to contribute.
Remembering Our Loved Ones on Dio de Muertes
By Dorli F.
Dorli F. writes about the second anniversary of her mother’s passing. “Cordeles” refer to the paper cuttings trimming the grave site. The blue and white colors symbolize heaven.
My Father and brothers in Guatemala went to the cemetery. My sister-in-law cooked for them. She cooked fried chicken and salad. They ate in the cemetery at my mother’s grave. They put flowers in little boxes on the corners of her grave. My father made los cordeles for my Mom. He hung the cordeles on the portico. My father painted the grave white and sky blue. It is traditional. I’m sad when I see these pictures because my Mom and brother are no more.
My Decision to Move to the USA
by Saheli S.
We have to make a lot of decisions in our entire life. We have to be very careful and cautious before making any decisions because sometimes our way of life depends on the decisions that we make. I make some decisions very easily while other decisions are not so easy. Before making any difficult decision I have to think about the consequences and pros and cons of it.
In my life one of the toughest decisions I made was to move to the USA. My husband lived in the USA. I lived in India. My whole family is in India. My roots are there. I am an introvert. It is hard for me to come to a new country where I don’t know anyone except my husband.
My husband wanted to settle in the USA. My son was going to start school. He also needs his father. Maintaining a long-distance relationship was becoming more difficult day by day. I also faced challenges from society. Though I was not bothered about that, I was worried about my son. So I had to make the decision to move to a new country.
My life was not smooth after making the decision and coming to the USA. Although I made the decision, I couldn’t adjust to it. After I arrived, I was constantly thinking about how to get back to India. I recognize that it’s a kind of immaturity. I couldn’t control everything in my life. Even though I knew that, I couldn’t put it into practice at that time.
Eventually I realized that I had to come out of that mindset. If I couldn’t, my life would be worse. I made the decision myself. Nobody forced me to make it. And it was already made. I started to find positive outcomes of the decision. It is a new challenge to me.
As a result of making the decision I am learning many new things such as chopping vegetables, cooking and driving. I can learn about new cultures, meet new people and face new challenges. I also think I give more value to the small things of life than I did previously. Whatever experience I have gained due to that decision, in my opinion, it makes me strong and helps me to move forward in life.
My name is Mariana. I’m 24 years old, and I am from Brazil. I was born in a small city, Torres, in the South of Brazil, colonized by Germans and Italians. My family is a mix of Germans and Brazilians. My first language is Portuguese.
When I was seventeen years old, I needed to move to a big city, Porto Alegre, to study. I studied Law at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, a University in South Brazil. Also, I got married and moved to the seventh most populated city in the world, Sao Paulo. Sao Paulo is in the southeast region of Brazil.
When I was finishing my degree, my husband was transferred to Pennsylvania. I needed to choose between finishing my degree or learning everything again; language, culture, etc. I choose the new! We moved in October, 2016. My first day in the USA was hard because I didn’t know how to speak English. I couldn’t say “hi” or just “how are you?” I was feeling badly because I am a talkative person and didn’t know how to communicate.
For months I stayed inside my house, because I was afraid to speak. Everyday, I studied by myself but I couldn’t understand when someone talked to me. One day, I was looking on the web for English classes and found VEP.
In my first class, I was so nervous I couldn’t talk. My teacher Gary was an amazing person. He had patience with me. He explained everything to me like the alphabet sounds, the accent, the meaning of words.
In my first month of classes, I could understand more than I could speak. As classes went on, my teacher made me feel comfortable enough to start speaking. When I realized I was beginning to speak English, I began to watch movies, talk with my neighbors, and go to the supermarket by myself.
Today, I can talk for hours with my teacher Gary. Every class, I learn new words, new pronunciations, new stories. Nowadays, I’m studying to complete my goals: go back to University, find a job, and build my new life here.
I came from Thailand six years ago to live with my family. I have one child, his name is Paul. He will go to first grade this fall.
My English background was basic, I could introduce myself, greeting people and answering yes or no to questions. I learned English as a second language at school, but never used it in my daily life so i was easy for me to forget it. When I came here, I was nervous to talk with the American people, because I didn’t understand what they said and they also didn’t understand me.
My husband’s friend recommended the VEP to me. She had studied with a VEP tutor before. She said it was fun and helpful. So, I went to the VEP office in Chester County and did a test. Then they told me to wait for my tutor. Finally, I met my first tutor Terry who was so generous and helpful. She asked me about my goals so she could help me succeed. I studied with her every Monday when my husband was off and he could take care of our son. After six months my friends told me that my pronunciation was getting better, and I felt more comfortable. It was a great year for me studying with Terry. I was grateful to her husband Hugh who played with my son while we studied. When she had to move to Florida, we were so sad to say goodbye to her and her husband.
After Terry moved to Florida, Irma called me and asked if I wanted to continue my English classes. She would help provide another tutor for me, absolutely I said yes. I met my second tutor Arlene. She is so amazing and wonderful. She helped me to advance with my English and she gave me advice on my son’s education.
Now, I can communicate and understand more than before. I’ll keep studying English with my VEP tutor because not only am I advancing academically but also for the friendship we have formed.”
Students or tutors can submit stories anytime via email at email@example.com. For earlier editions of our student-edited magazine, VOICES, please click below. Beginning in 2019, we have incorporated VOICES articles within our In Other Words newsletter in order to reach a larger viewing audience.