We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofChi Diep

I was born in Vietnam, the country of happiness and a lot of good food. In Vietnam, I was so confident because I had many friends, and they were very good to me. Of course, I never spoke in English with them.  Then the day came when I left for America with my family. I was extremely nervous because my English was really bad. The culture, food, weather, and other systems were different. The first day of school was really difficult for me. I didn’t have any friends, and I couldn’t talk with anyone because of my poor English. I ate lunch alone and did everything by myself.  In Vietnam, we didn’t eat lunch in school. We ate when we went home. Also, we stayed in the class and the teachers switched rooms. In America, I didn’t have any friends, so that’s why I felt so sad every day when I went to school. I wanted to go back to Vietnam because I was not happy. I went back home when school ended, and my mom saw that I was sad.  “_Con bị sao thế?” _ she asked, checking in on my day.  “Con ổn ,” I tried to hide my sadness. Deep in her heart, she knew that I was not fine.  Then she started crying. The moment I saw her tears fall, I started crying too, and I told her what happened to me at school.  Luckily, there were some people from Vietnam who I found at my school who speak Vietnamese. I talked to them, and they really helped me under- stand the school. One day, they invited me to go to a restaurant to eat dinner. Also, I had a Partnership for New Americans class. This class partnered new American students with students born in the US to mentor them. Everyone was friendly and kind to me. My first partner was a girl born in the United States, and my second partner was an Indian boy, born in United States as well. They helped me with study skills and helped me understand more about my classes and my new city. We had speakers come into our class from the community. We also went on field trips. One trip we went on was to the local university to watch students read their stories and to take a tour. It was fun being able to see what an American university looked like.  During the first week of school, I didn’t know how the schedule worked or what the rules were. My mentor helped me with my schedule so that I didn’t have any trouble going to my classes. I had an algebra class, which I am re- ally good at, and I made new friends there too. I am confident with math. I helped my friends solve math problems.  It started to get easier for me to learn English with people who were not originally from America. Two new Vietnamese friends came to America later in the year, and I talked with them often and made friends with them. Eventually, I helped them with their English too. These two Vietnamese friends had the same feelings as me when they first came. Since I understood more, I tried my best to help them make friends with everyone. I taught them about the school, and they quickly became my best friends.  After some time, I started to gain my confidence back. I had many friends, and I didn’t feel lonely. Things had certainly changed for the better. I was happy. I tried to do my best, so I could learn English and speak with every- one. My experience helped me gain more confidence and now, I feel like I can overcome anything in the future. 

© Chi Diep. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.