Moving to the United States – Juan Baires

FIRST PLACE, Grades 4-6 Division, 2004
Grade 4, Truesdell Elementary

An obstacle in my life was moving from El Salvador to The United States when I was eight years old. In El Salvador the people were poor, so my mother worked all the time to pay for our education. She didn’t want to pay so much for our school, so we moved to the United States. Now she doesn’t work all the time, but she still has two jobs.

When I came here I was sad because I missed my friends from El Salvador. When I got to my new school I tried to forget about what happened, but I couldn’t stop thinking about El Salvador. When it was recess time I didn’t play with anyone because it reminded me of my friends. When My teacher gave me homework I didn’t understand even when she explained it to me, but I still tried to do my homework everyday.

One day I told my mom about my problems at school and I started crying. Each day at recess I still sat on the bench alone, because my only friend wanted to play with other people. One day I was sitting on the bench and two boys were saying bad words. A teacher came over and they blamed it on me. I didn’t understand and I got in trouble because I didn’t know how to say what happened. From that day on I didn’t play at recess. I just stayed in studying English until I learned.

I feel stronger because I learned English. Now I can defend myself, I understand homework, and I also made new friends. I even help my older brother and younger sisters with their homework and I also teach them new words. When I learned English I learned how to read, write, and participate when the teacher asks a question.

In the fourth grade I thought I wasn’t going to have any friends, but the first day I found ten friends. I was proud to have so many friends. Some of them spoke English and some of them spoke Spanish like me! I told my friends what happened last year and they said they would play with me at recess.

My fourth grade teacher has a friend who taught us some words in Chinese. I think her friend should be an ESL teacher. If she taught at Truesdell I would want to go and learn how to speak Chinese. If I could do that I would know three languages. If I knew Chinese and a new student came to Truesdell from China, I would be their friend. I would make sure that nothing that happened to me would ever happen to them.

A note about Juan’s piece. We had to cut it down from about 1,000 words. When I gave him the assignment he went home and wrote nine pages in his journal. I thought that cutting it down to under 300 words would cut a lot out of his story. His essay is about 450 words. Sincerely, Ms. Pearce-Bristol (Juan’s teacher)