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Have you ever feel totally trapped? My life was pretty normal until the day when I was 10, my mom told me that we have to move to another place to live.
“Honey, we are going to move to America next month!” My mom announced to my siblings, “Are you excited?” I was shocked about the sudden decision. Many questions suddenly popped up in my mind about the outcome of moving to a foreign country. I wondered, what is school like in America? What language do Americans speak? What food do Americans eat? These questions gave me a nervous feeling about heading into the United States.
My heart started to beat quickly once I left my home. I took a final look at my house as I left. Little did I know that I would not only leave my house behind, but also all my friends. All the memories I had in Vietnam would soon fade away into a new beginning. My family and I moved to the USA from Vietnam, in August 2010. We changed houses. My friends disappeared. I didn’t know anyone here. After I moved here, I struggled to make new friends and get good grades. The language barrier was one of the biggest issues that I encountered.
For the first few weeks of Elementary school, I was a breathing statue who couldn’t talk. I felt like a newborn baby who couldn’t walk. I felt like a useless rock. I couldn’t do anything. It was one of the most difficult times I’ve ever had in my life. Without language, I lost the ability to communicate and make friends in school. I felt really lonely and senseless because I faced many problems I couldn’t solve. I also couldn’t communicate my feelings to the people around me which led me to feel even more isolated. Sometimes, I even got bullied in school by the kids in my class. They were laughing and making fun of me when I tried my best to talk.
In fourth grade, there was a time when we had to work in groups on a project. My teacher let us pick our own groups. Nobody wanted me to join their group because they thought that I was useless. So, I got left out. Then, my teacher put me in a random group with only boys, I was the only girl in that group. I felt really shy and uncomfortable working with the boys in the group, my face became red. They were making fun of me and asking many stupid questions. A boy in a red t-shirt asked, “Hey, how do you pronounce your name? Is it Neegheea?” A boy in a white t-shirt added, “Bruh! that sounds like nigga!” Then, the whole class started to laugh at me. Looking around the room, feeling a sense of sorrow and helplessness, I really wanted to ask for help, but no one could speak the same language as I did. Feeling embarrassed, my face turning red, hands shoving into my pockets and feet shuffling around, I stayed silent and didn’t know what to.
I went home as fast as I could and threw down my backpack on the floor. Then, I jumped on my bed. Tears streamed out of my eyes. I lamented, “uh huuh huuh! Why is this happening to me?” Swiping at my nose with tissue, I laid down on my bed and wished that I could stay in the bed forever and never go back to that school. I thought to myself that this couldn’t keep happening and I have to do something about it. The first thing I needed to do was to stop crying about my issues. Instead, I needed to find the solutions to it. I got off my bed, went to my backpack, reached inside and took out a notebook. Then, I started to wrote down some of the things that I needed to improve: speaking skills, writing skills, and reading skills. After that, I went online to search for a free website that I could use to practice my English. I found a really effective website called “Better at English.” I spent three hours on the computer to studying and practicing my English everyday after I got home from school. The “Better at English” website not only helped me to improve my English speaking skills, but also taught me the grammar rules and helped me improve my writing skills.
As a result of all my practice, I felt more confident about my English. I was able to get out of my shell and make more friends. Making new friends helped me build my confidence because they would encourage me to learn the language. For example, when I make a grammar mistake, they would help me by coaching me through my error. This helped me improve my ability to speak English correctly.
It was not an easy journey, but after going through it all by myself, I found the strength, responsibility, and confidence to overcome the problems I faced when I came to the USA. I am proud that I overcome my language barriers. I am proud that I won the fight with myself and developed myself through it. Without these challenges, I would never have become the person I am today.
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