ESL Voices 2020

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Writings, Poems and Essays

by Students of English as a Second Language



Voices 2020

Writings, Poems, and Essays by Students of English as a Second Language

Cuyahoga Community College


ESL Voices




Lisa Friel, Westshore

Roberta Hendrick, Metro

Nicholas Prokup, West

Judging Committee:

Susan Lohwater, West

Jennie Kaffen, Metro

Katie Windahl, Westshore

David Napuk, East

Art Direction:

Song-Ae Mun, West

Cover Art:

Lora Strongosky, East

Design and Layout:

Lora Strongosky, East

Contributing Faculty:

Patricia Coyne, West

Lisa Friel, Westshore

Mary Lou Haag, Metro

Judith Hammer, Metro

Roberta Hendrick, Metro

Jillian LaManna, Westshore

Susan Lohwater, West

Elizabeth McMurray, Westshore

Kathleen Molzan, Metro

Maria Panek, Westshore

Judit Slager, Westshore

Monica Tofan, West

ESL Voices

Background and Mission

In 1991, Mara Hegedeos, Assistant Professor of English/English as a Second Language, collected ESL student essays college-wide and put them under one cover. Thus ESL Voices was born. Since that time, the mantle has been taken up by faculty from the different campuses, with heroic efforts to secure funding in the earlier years. We do appreciate the efforts of all those editorial teams, and we especially appreciate the current administration’s support – both moral and financial – of the publication of this edition of ESL Voices. ESL Voices showcases the writing of our international, immigrant, and citizen English-language students and recognizes two important facts: the ability to write well is hard work, and the ability to write well in a second language is twice that. Through ESL Voices, Cuyahoga Community College acknowledges the achievements of its ESL students, celebrates their diversity, and motivates continued writing improvement.


Thanks to the following people whose support and encouragement helped make this year’s ESL Voices a reality: Dean William Cunion, Interim Dean of Learning & Engagement, Eastern Campus; Dean Dwayne Keeney, Associate Dean, Liberal Arts, Eastern Campus; Dean Abigail Dohanos, Associate Dean, Liberal Arts, Metro Campus; Dean Felisa Eafford, Associate Dean, Liberal Arts, Western Campus; and Claire McMahon, Associate Dean, Learning Engagement & Transitions, Westshore Campus. We would also like to give a special thanks to Seong-Ae Mun for her help and guidance in this cross-curriculum collaboration between ESL and graphic arts, and to Lora Strongosky, a Visual Communication and Graphic Design student, for her creative cover art and layout design for this edition of ESL Voices.


Table of Contents

Personal Connections My Husband


My Wife


Mariam Al Hamad

Kairallah Alrefae

My Brother

Benafsha Ali Shah



Lama 4 Banan Shikh

My Daughter


You Are My Thankfulness


Nada Zitoun

My Motivation in Life


My Favorite Place


My Most Admired Person


My Grandmother: A Person to Admire


My Friend


My Unforgettable Daughter: Yeymi Cedeño


My Beloved Grandmother


The Sacrifice


Younis Awawda

Arin Brek

Bukhari Mohammud


Liya Gebreyohans

Zee 2 My Brother and My Best Friend

My Life – A Long Distance Relationship

Miriam Abdelshahid

Daisy Truong

Ashley Perez

Basamat Bealo

Yesenia Guerrero

Ana Cocco

Basamat Bealo

My Son Made a Difference in My Life


Memorable Times The Trip


My Grandmother


An Important Year


Songyi Yoon

My Aunt Juanita: Someone Who Made a Difference 5 Ana Valbuena

Tatiana Nanii

Yu Liu


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Fatoumata Fofana

Iman Alanazi


Snow Days


When I Came to America


Christmas Time


When My Daughter Had Leukemia


The First Year in the U.S.A


The Day of My Daughter’s Birth


The Day When My Niece Was Born


My Wedding Day


Hurricane Maria


Wedding and Graduation Day


A Bad Experience


Visa Day


My First Tournament as a Volleyball Player


My Perfect Day


The Policeman


An Ominous Time


The Tornado


How I Met My Husband


My Journey to the USA


First Visit to Disney World


Benafsha Ali Shah •Second Place Prizewinner Kristaq Pecukja

Dallandyshe Vrekaj

Denisse Angelica Valerio Pena

Mengelee Torres

Mariia Samsak

Nirajkumar Patel

Engy Mosad

Lissa Koysman

Inna Kondrya

Sarada Gurung

Ivanna Dorosh

My Life in the U.S. Khristina Artym


Rand Nasr

Zaineh Masrujah •Third Place Prizewinner Rula Kamleh

Husen Doumet

Rana AL Shamaa

Zeyad Almifrij

Belal Almasri

Marwah Al Bayati

•First Place Prizewinner

A Sad Time in My Life


Self Reflection Nahoua Brahima Yeo


The Year I Waited For


Elbe Paw

Nahoua Brahima Yeo

Arin Brek


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Professional Recognition Between Men and Women 35

How Women Choose Their Clothes?


My Academic Growth


My Country


Why You Shouldn’t Give Up


My Feeling When I Came to the USA


Life Changing


Mariola Carmona

Ingrid Morales Cortez

Jacqueline Miranda

Yuliia Boyko

Violeta Albastroiu

Songyi Yoon

Marwah Al Bayati

Regret 40 Traore Abdou Nourou

My Big Mistake


My Actual and Ideal Selves


The Biggest Change


Cultural Experiences


Ana Cocco

Grace JH Bae

Belal Almasri

People in Iraq

Israa Al-Obaidi

Armenia 45 Arpine Kakoyan

My Journey in the U.S. Katherine N. Dominguez


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Personal Connections My Husband

Mariam Al Hamad Syria, Level 1

My husband is the most important person in my life. He is a very wonderful person and he is everything for me. My husband’s name is Kairallah. He is thirty nine years old. He is a tall person and his hair is back and his eyes wide. He is a very neat and nice person. He is always optimistic, loves being happy, friendly, and helpful. He loves to help people to solve their problems. He loves children and loves to play with them on vacation. He also loves to read stories and books in his spare time and enjoys reading a lot, especially before he sleeps. My husband loves to work a lot. He wakes up early in the morning to go to work. Then he comes home at night and the tiredness is clear on his face, but when he sees his children he is smiling and happy. He really is a wonderful person. He helps me in everything at home. It helps me take care of the kids and arrange the house. He is always with me in sadness and joy. He is also studying English to learn to speak with people because it is for him a second language. My husband loves me and loves his children. My husband is all my life and I see the world through him. And I say thank you, God for giving me a wonderful husband and nice father to children. My husband is the most important person for me and without him life becomes not beautiful. It is not good. I love my husband very much.

My Wife

Kairallah Alrefae Syria, Level 1

My wife is very important person in my heart. Her name is Mariam. She is thirty nine years old. She has black hair and brown eyes. We got


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Personal Connections  1

marred before twelve years. Her favorite activity is hiking. Every day she walks in the morning. She is honest woman. She likes to read the Quran. Mariam prays every night to God for me with our children. Mariam is organized person. She likes to see everything at home clean. She does not like any dirt. She does hard work now. She is amazing mother to three children, and she is going to give birth next month. Mariam is very quiet and helpful. She takes an old woman to hospital every week. The woman is my neighbor. Mariam is very important in my life. She enters happiness into my heart.

My Brother

Benafsha Ali Shah Afghanistan, Level 1

My hero in every situation is my brother Dilawar. He is twenty-two years old, one year older than I am. He has brown eyes. He is taller than I am and smarter than me. That is the reason that he is always there to solve my problems. From his childhood, he faces all difficulties of life. He started working when he was ten years old because of our financial situation. After my father left us, he is the one who takes care of us like the man of the house. Through my life he always teaches me how to be responsible for every small thing. He always tells me to accept my mistakes that is how you become responsible. This coming week he is leaving us for the very first time, he will go to Los Angeles to complete his bachelor degree. These days we are getting in fights a lot on different things especially on my driving. It has been two years that he is teaching me how to drive but he continues to help me because I am having many problems. I learned all other things except driving. My brother is the only one who never gives up on me until the time I learn that thing. I hope that I can pass this time. My brother always reminds me that life never run the way you think and life is always unfair with everyone. You will not always get the things that you deserve. I love when he teach me about life experiences. These things make him my hero.


Arin Brek Syria, Level 1

My husband Zee is an artist and a wonderful and special character. His name is Nazeh but we call him Zee. My husband is so handsome. He is tall and big but he is not fat. He has beautiful and big brown


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eyes and brown hair. He is not white and not black. He has a beautiful skin color. Zee also has an amazing smile with two beautiful dimples. He works a lot. He works in construction and art. He paints pictures, sketches, and designs. He likes to paint nature painting. He painted my picture when I was a baby. And he painted our big son Joy when he was born. He usually uses oil colors but he paints and draws in different ways like oil, water, acrylic, pastel, charcoal, and pencils. Zee does many woodcarvings. He likes this kind of art. Our home garden in Bay Village was full of his woodcarvings. Many people stopped there and took a look. We moved from Bay Village to Westlake and now he has a new project in our new garden. In addition to his projects at home, he works in an amazing project for the Cleveland Browns combines painting and sculpture with iron and wood. This project takes a lot of time, and he needs a couple of months to finish it. I like how he wants to do everything by hand. In our new home he also did all the construction with his artist mind. He likes fishing and hunting and he also plays guitar and piano. We have a studio with many musical instruments and many records he collected in twenty years. If I have to write everything about him I can write until tomorrow. He does not like to talk too much about himself, I do not know why. People like to be famous except Zee. I love my Zee and how unique he is.

My Brother and My Best Friend Bukhari Mohammud Somalia, Level 1

My brother is one of the most important people in my life. He is my best friend, and we know most of each other’s secrets. He is nineteen years old and in twelve grade in high school. Most people think we are twins because we wear the same clothes and go together every place. He likes to stay with me and I like him too. He is strong and he has a shaved head. He like to go gym every day. But the funny thing is that he sign up for two different gyms. Zakariye very shy and does not like talking to other people. He always like to stay in the bedroom and play games. He also likes to go outside and play soccer with me and my friends. But if I am not with them he will not go. I don’t know why. He is very good in the school but does not like to go every day. Zakariye like to go back to Somalia because he do not like the snow and cold weather. Also he like to visit his grandparents, and his young siblings. He trust me and I trust him. Zakariye is a friend to me. He is best person in my life.

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Banan Shikh Syria, Level 1

Lama is my daughter. She is one of the most important person to me. She is four years old. She has long brown hair, shiny eyes, and beautiful face. She has a round face, small nose, and soft cheeks. She is sensitive. Anything is easy to make her hurt and cry. She sometimes compares herself with her older brother. That makes her feel bad about herself when she cannot do what her brother does. When she cannot read a book or because she does not go to school yet or because she does not have friends like him. I always told her about how she is good enough for a girl her age. She is quiet, shy, and likes to share her toys or candy. She likes to play with her brothers or me. She always remembers her brothers and keeps some of her candy for them. She likes to spend time with me and her father. The best place to her is a coffee shop when we go together. We have a good time talk and laugh. All my attention is with her. She likes to help me in the kitchen or with anything I do. She cuts vegetables or arranges dishes sometimes. And sometimes she folds clothes with me. She often stands with me when I do my homework, and she tries to write her name. She watches movies with me sometimes. We like to watch animation movies or family movies such as Wonder, Frozen, and Toy Story. She likes pets. She always asks her father to buy a cat. She tells me she wants to be a vet. I love her so much. I love her eyes and her words when she talks to me. Lama is one of the best gifts I have from God in my life.

smart and she loves her school but she does not like to study because it makes her bored. Lana’s teacher says she is smart than her friends. Her favorite activity is running and she go with her father to run in the summer and they listen to music when they run. Lana is like a sister for me. I hope always she is well and pray for my God she is healthy and happy. My daughter is a little piece of my heart. Lana is not just a daughter to me. She is my life.

You Are My Thankfulness Songyi Yoon

South Korea, Level 2

You are my thankfulness. Always you are there Even when I lost the road If there is darkness If there is shine You are there as well You are my playground You are my shelter You are always been there for me

My Daughter Nada Zitoun Syria, Level 1

My daughter is everything to me. Her name is Lana. She is six years old. She lives with me and her father. She loves me more than her father. She has a younger brother. She loves him so much and plays with him. She also has a small cat that spends her time with. Lana has long blond hair, big eyes and charming smile. Whatever mood I am in, when I look at Lana I smile. Lana prefers pink color and likes to dress in that color. She spends the weekend in coloring paintings. The paintings are beautifully colored. Sometimes we go to see the seagulls together. She enjoys a lot watching them. Lana’s favorite food is Italian food, such as pizza and pasta. She likes to drink a cup of milk every morning. Lana is


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Now It is my turn to give you I will give you my sunshine Please stay there Sincerely, Your Daughter

My Aunt Juanita: Someone Who Made a Difference Ana Valbuena

Venezuela, Level 2

My aunt Juanita helped her community and my family. She was an engineer, and the president of a petroleum company in Maracaibo, Personal Connections  5

Venezuela. At the beginning of the conflict between the government and the petroleum companies, she helped many people fight for their working rights. She motivated people to earn better rights and benefits in the country. Many people would show support for her. She also helped my family, by helping my father since he had lost his job in the same petroleum fight. She offered to send my sister and brother to a private school, because she wanted them to have a good education. In her mind, if you went to a good school and got a good education it would make you a good citizen with strong values. Eventually she became ill fighting for her believes, leaving behind a good legacy. She was a good women with strong values, and thoughts. That’s why she became important in the petroleum company, and to my family too. She couldn’t win the battle pf the working rights, but at least she tried to the end of her days in this world.

My Son Made a Difference in My Life Tatiana Nanii

Moldova, Level 2

My son’s name is Cristian. He is two years old, and he is the most wonderful child in the world. He made me be another person. He changed my thinking and way of life. After his birth, the little things no longer seem so important. For example, before my son was born, I was obsessed about cleaning the house. Now I understand: with a small child, there cannot exist a clean house. Also, after his birth, I gained more responsibility and patience. I always calmly teach him what is good and what is bad. But the most important thing is – in my life more fun, hugs and love appeared. I would not change his hugs for anything in the world. In conclusion, my son made me be another person, a much better person than I was.

My Grandmother Yu Liu

China, Level 2

My grandmother has a hard life, but she never gives up. My grandmother never went to school. She didn’t know words. She was a farmer. She lived in an old and shabby house. She grew vegetables and bred sheep, cattle and pigs. Her only income was selling these. She gets up early every day, and she works until dark. She has been it since I remember. She hasn’t changed in more than ten years. One year, there was a dry damage in China. People who live in the mountain didn’t


ESL Voices

have water. She went down the mountain to carried water and sent it to her neighbors. She never complains about anything. She takes care of herself. My grandmother works like all farmers, but she never gives up.

My Life – A Long Distance Relationship Liya Gebreyohans Ethiopia, Level 2

My husband and I were married in 2013. The same year in 2013, my husband got a lottery, and he came to USA. We were married, but I couldn’t get a visa. So we continued our relationship from a distance. However, he used to come to Ethiopia every year and we used to have a good time sometimes for a month or weeks. Life was difficult in a long distance relationship. We kept in touch by phone, email, skype, but in Ethiopia, the network was difficult, so we usually met once a week, otherwise once every two weeks. I waited for my via for years. In 2017, the USA Embassy called me and they asked me some questions. After that they gave me an appointment for an interview. During the interview, they asked me for our wedding and family pictures. In addition they asked about my husband’s career and his financial status. Finally, they gave me the visa. I was so happy! I came to the USA on December 3, 2007, after a five-year process. Now, we are living together, and we have a 14-month baby boy.

My Motivation in Life Younis Awawda Palestine, Level 2

The number one man in my life: My Father. My dad had a pretty good and easy childhood living with both his parents who were, and still are very financially stable in Palestine. Despite his easy upbringing, he did not let that stop him from becoming his own man, and going through his own hardships in life, which taught me valuable lessons as I grew to know what a real man should be. He came to America on his own, a young single man that didn’t know the language or the American way. He started from scratch as a worker in a local grocery store, got married and started having children at a young age of 23. He ended up opening his own business, which failed after hitting a very high peek and making lots of money which he lost as a result of the business failing. Which made him take his young family of six back home and try to start over in Palestine. Never having given up on the American dream, he got himself together in a few years and made his way back to the US to start

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over. As a child, that upset my siblings and me very much and made us feel like my father left us behind. As a young adult now, and having come to live with my dad, I now see that he is the perfect example of a real man who doesn’t give up on his dream and securing the future of his children. I now understand that my father sacrificed more then we can ever imagine just ensuring that his family will always be taken care of. I only aspire to be half the man my father is and will forever be grateful for his sacrifice, hard work, and his drive to better himself and his family for ages to come.

My Favorite Place

Miriam Abdelshahid Egypt, Level 2

My favorite place to go with my friends is the library in my church. It’s not big. It’s rectangular. It has many chairs, cabinets for the books, and the decorations. I’m a volunteer at this library. Every week, my friend and I gather together in the library to organize the books and help people who borrow the books. There are my different books in it. It contains books in Arabic, English and Coptic. Last year, we changed everything in it such as the floor and the pain on the wall. Also, we created new decorations and made a new rooms system. At this time, we did everything together. First of all, we bought the new stuff from Home Depot. Then we removed all the old stuff from the library. We started with carpets. We peeled it. Next, we painted the walls with different colors. After we finished the painting, we put new materials on the floor (vinyl). We put them on one by one. Finally, before we returned everything to the library, we decorated it with home accents. During this period, we enjoyed everything that happened. We had breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner together. We never forgot this time. In the long run, the library changed to be better than it was at first. As a result, many visitors have come to the library. All the visitors and the priest thanked us for our hard work, we would gather together in the library. All in all, this library reminds us of the challenge we have accomplished and how helped each other.

kids to be a good person. Everyone in my family grew up by his rules. Men were not allowed to smoke or drink alcohol, and women were not allowed to hang out at night or have a date before graduation. All we could do was go to church, school, and work. It was hard to live like that, but I know he wanted all the best for us. I also have learned a lot things from him. He taught me how to stay strong when I have a tough day. He wanted me to learn and try to do things that only men were supposed to do. For example, he wanted me to learn how to use electronic and dangerous tools. Besides that, he tried to teach me how to play some type of musical instrument. I tried to play a guitar, but I was not good at it. Some of my dad’s rules really bothered me. Sometimes I got upset because I did not have a chance to go out with my friends. They could come to my house, but I could not go out whenever I wanted. He wanted to make sure his daughter was safe. Even my mom worried that my dad was too hard on us. I remember once my mom told my sister to move out of the house, or go somewhere to find a job and get married. She thought he was too hard on his kids that we would never meet someone to marry if we stay home. Even though he was hard and stern, I still love him. I would never forgot all experiences we have together.

My Grandmother: A Person to Admire Ashley Perez

Puerto Rico, Level 2

My grandmother is my biggest influence. She is a retired social worker who dedicates her whole life to her profession. She became the most important person in my life by helping me to become a responsible woman. She did everything possible to help me finish high school and get my diploma. Then I came to Cleveland with my mom, but my grandmother is still helping me with college and always giving me advice to become a better person and never give up. She is the best social worker because she loves to help people. With her, the answer to someone who needs help is never a no; she is always ready to help everyone who needs her no matter what. She even made an organization for people who are in need of clothes, shoes, food or just a little bit of affection. She always is going to be my best person.

My Most Admired Person Daisy Truong

Vietnam, Level 2

In my family, my dad was the one who I admired the most. He was really hard with his kids, but I still appreciated the way he trained his


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Personal Connections  9

My Friend

Basamat Bealo Sudan, Level 3

When I came to America I met a nice lady who she help me a lot. At that time I had kidney failure. I did dialysis three time a week. She took me to the place which I did the dialysis. Also she drove me to the hospital which I met the doctor whom he treats me because I have high blood pressure and another things. My friend whom I depended on at that time she also went with me to do shopping. She taught me English to communicate with people whom I met anywhere. I love my friend whom she make me happy. She is like my family whom I left in Sudan.

My Unforgettable Daughter: Yeymi Cedeño Yesenia Guerrero

Dominican Republic, Level 3

It’s very difficult and at the same time a pride for me to talk about my first-born daughter Yeymi Cedeno, who was born in October 061997 in Dominican Republic. Her biggest passion was public speaking and international human services, qualities that she inherited from my mother. She was a caring girl who always saw the best in others. She motivated them to be better people and to move forward no matter what obstacles they overcome. Yeymi was a leader in our community, she involved in leadership activities in which she met a lot of important people of USA. She represented Tri-c in many different places such as. The White House, Minnesota, North Karolina, and others. Just with almost three years in USA, she was recognized as. Mandel Scholars Academy Student Leadership Council, Academic Excellence, Newman Civic Fellow 2019, Student Government Leader, Tri-c Dean’s Honor recipient 2018-2019, Phi Theta Kappa member, Hispanic Scholarship recipient, Rotary International, and others. She was almost always traveling when an opportunity raised, she was ready to pack and go. She always asked where we will go next. Always thinking ahead. She was a loving girl whom the family and others valued. I’ll never forget the Jun 13, 2019 when she made her last and most beautiful trip to Heaven and which has been the saddest day of my life, but I still have the hope to see her again someday. She impacted the Hispanic Community in Cleveland for the leadership and her desire to serve others. When she was working in the Hispanic American Committee, she helped more than 3000 Puerto Rican family who came after Hurricane Maria. She is immortal and transcended through donating her organs to people who will need them to save their life. Yeymi was Honored and she inspired 10  ESL Voices

other entities to create a Scholarship in her name at Tri-c, “Students Excellence Scholarship in memory of Yeymi Cedeno.” She was the light for those in the dark. We’ll keep her memory alive and she will live forever in our hearts.

My Beloved Grandmother Ana Cocco

Dominican Republic, Level 3

Talking about my beloved grandmother Trina, which was her name, is like getting back to myself. I remember her face when she smiled, her smile was mother, protective and mentor. She was tall with a pronounced body, long and abundant hair. Her hair was gray like the gray of the sky when winter comes. My grandmother was a woman of direct words and concrete answers. I learned a lot from her. She had the wisdom of a monk. Grandma had the quality of letting you know, that you should be quiet when you didn’t have to talk. You should think before speaking and that it was important not to hurt the feelings of the people you love. My grandmother Trina loved cooking, with her I learned that “Love enters through the mouth.” She was delicate when preparing the table to eat. Grandmother organized in the kitchen when I put the cutlery on the table. She tried to teach me from a young age the details of how to show the family that you loved them through cooking, food, and sharing at the table. Their salads were of spectacular colors, and had an unusual way of combining vegetables with vegetables that you could not refuse to eat. Time has passed and over time I can remember everything about her clearly. The way to fix your bed with their colored bedspreads and sheets combined with their large pillows. Her bed always kept her ready and invited you to sleep, but she looked so perfect that you didn’t dare to touch her, but you couldn’t help but want to get on the bed and tuck into a little ladder without touching anything or breaking such perfection. Today I want to be able to grow old like her, with dignity. Do not hide the silver rays that are growing in my hair despite my age. To be able to show my family that we love them through food, with their flavor and colors. I want to be loved, respected, remembered, and admired by my family as she is. 2010 was the year of her departure. When she

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left I learned and understood that she will always be in my mind and in my heart. With tears in my eyes I conclude this story saying that “My grandmother Trina will always be my beloved grandmother.”

The Sacrifice

Basamat Bealo Sudan, Level 3

Sacrifice is the most wonderful thing that the person can offer to the someone who he or she loves. I am from a poor family. My father owned a small shop to sell vegetables. My family consists of my mother, my father, my four sisters, and me. We lived in happiness. My father doesn’t have enough money let us go to school. Then my older sister didn’t go to school, and she work hard to let us go to school. Also she didn’t get married until all of us graduated from universities. Because I am the youngest, she love a lot, and she said I am her daughter. She gave anything I want. When I was sick and had kidney failure, she wanted to give me her kidney but her tissues and blood are not identical. She worked as much as possible to collect money so that I could buy kidney from anyone because in Sudan they can sell and buy kidney, but it is every expensive. We didn’t find kidney in Sudan, and we went to Egypt but we didn’t find. After all these failed attempts she suggested that I had to order asylum humanitarian to find the appropriate treatment. She took me to the United Nations organization and provided all the required papers. Several years later they accepted me as a refugee to America. When I came here I found anythings good, and I had the kidney transplant. She did everything she could do to let me go to school to become an engineer at the beginning, and she did the impossible to relieve the pain and illness from me. She did anythings for me to make me happy without any pain and sadness.

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Memorable Times The Trip

Fatoumata Fofana Mali, Basic level

My name is Fatima. I am 23 years old. I will tell you about something important. I’m traveling today to Baltimore by bus, but I never traveled by bus before, so I’m really scared because I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. I really pray that everything goes well for me, what’s going to be an experience for me. I’m excited to try the travel by bus. It must be 3 years I did not travel outside Cleveland, so I’m just happy to try to see other states.

An Important Year Iman Alanazi

Saudi Arabia, Level 1

My family went through many challenges. We started the year 2016 in the hospital in San Francisco. It was winter when the doctors told us they could not do anything to help my husband anymore. The rest of the season, we searched for hospitals all over the country which can help him. We found a doctor in Cleveland who can help him. In the spring, we packed everything to move to Ohio from San Francisco. On March 1st, we were supposed to travel. My husband got sick and was admitted to hospital, so we missed our plane. We bought new tickets five days later. Spring in Ohio was colder than San Francisco. In July, my husband had a big surgery to prepare him for the transplant. On September 29th, the nurse called me at 3:00 in the morning and asked me to bring him to do the operation. I waited a long time for the surgery to end. After that, the doctor told me everything going well. In October, my husband Memorable Times  13

was really sick. We went to the emergency room, and he was admitted to the hospital for two weeks. In November, he had many appointments. In December, he was sick again, so he got readmitted for month. We spent New Years Eve in the hospital. We celebrated the new year with the hospital staff. The doctors and nurses wished us a happy new year when they walked into the room. 2016 was a hard year for me but it had a good ending. We overcame our hardships together as a family.

Snow Days

Benafsha Ali Shah •Second Place Prizewinner Afghanistan, Level 1

I remember going to my graduation. I asked my friend about the best part of high school, and she told me that the best part of her high school was when there were snow days. I loved her answer because it is almost everyone’s favorite part of the school. I loved it when I had not done my assignments. First, I did not know what a snow day was. I remember the first year when we had snow day and the schools were off. I did not hear the voice mail that they sent us. I only saw “Snow day” on social media, and I thought that meant it is snowing today. When I went to the school, it was closed. It was unusual for me. The next day when I went to school, I asked my friends about the snow day, and they told me that schools are going to be closed on those days. I think they should change the name of “snow day” to “no school day.” It makes more sense. Why do they have to make it so complicated, especially for people who hardly speak English?

Christmas Time Kristaq Pecukja Albania, Level 1

Outside is dark. I am staying at my home doing my homework. Christmas time is coming. I see my wife. She is decorating the Christmas tree. She looks so happy. Anisa admires the end of the year. She invited me to do the decorations with her. I could not say no. I stand up, and we start to do that together. Now, the tree has lights and gold and red ornaments. The skirt of the tree is red. The Christmas tree looks wonderful. We put the star on top and turn on the lights. Everything is amazing. Now, we only need to put the gifts under the tree. My wife likes to buy gifts for everyone and to open those on Christmas day. I cannot wait for that day because in the same day, I celebrate my name.

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Christmas time and the Christmas tree make us happy and create harmony in our home.

The First Year in the U.S.A Dallandyshe Vrekaj Albania, Level 1

The first year in the U.S.A was a special year for my family and me. My family and I went from Albania to the USA by plane. It is the first time that we traveled by plane and was a special trip. We came here on July 4, 2019. My family and my sister’s family celebrated Independence Day with American people and we saw spectacular fireworks display. We stayed at my sister’s house for a month. After this, my family lived in a rented apartment. In mid-August, my husband and I started working. I used to be a cleaning lady at a manufacturing company, and my husband was a dishwasher at a restaurant. It is not easy because we had to do hard work and had to pay bills. On August 26, my son started high school. The first days were so difficult for him because he had to meet new friends and new teachers, and had to do everything by himself. He started to do many important tests that helped him to choose good college. In the fall, everything was going better. We celebrated all birthdays with my sister’s family. The winter was a beautiful season for us. We celebrated Thanksgiving, the first Christmas, and the first New Year here. We saw the spectacular lights in front of all the houses, and it was a beautiful view. In the spring, I started to learn the English language and started to drive a car. This is such a busy season for me. Finally, I got my driver’s license in mid-May. On May 29th, my sister celebrated her 45th birthday. It is a special day for us. In mid-May my son finished 11th grade in high school with excellent grades. This was a happy day for us. He started to choose colleges. Soon after our first year in U.S.A, my family and my sister’s family went to see Niagara Falls. It was a beautiful day. We saw beautiful views of the waterfall and the city. This year had good, bad, hard, and beautiful days, and I will remember it because everything changed in my life.

The Day When My Niece Was Born Denisse Angelica Valerio Pena Dominican Republic, Level 2

When my niece was born was a terrible and good day. Why I do say that? I am going to tell you why. When the day started, my sister was in the hospital, she had horrible pain. But I went to school. I passed al day

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worried about my sister; she didn’t feel good. So that day was ugly for me, she was pregnant, and she only had 7 months. So the baby didn’t grow completely, and she had (my sister) pain. Doctors did all that they could, but my niece was born this day. Where did I learn the news? Just when I arrived home, my cousin told me the news. I run to the hospital and called my mom and she told me where she and my sister was.

Hurricane Maria

Mengelee Torres Puerto Rico, Level 2

When Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, I was really scared. Before Maria hit Puerto Rico, everyone was getting prepared, and part of my family decided to stay at my grandmother’s house. We turned on the radio to listen when Maria was going to hit Puerto Rico. Before that the lights, water, and the signal went out. So, we just sat there waiting. It was around midnight when we heard the wind (sound like a monster), and we looked out of the window and saw the cars moving and getting up. My mom turned on the radio again and they were saying “be safe”, “get into the safest room in the house”, “don’t go outside, no matter what”, “people are dying”. We went to the safest room. After 5 hours of waiting, we asked ourselves is it going to finish? Then the house started shaking, the roof was getting up, and the water was getting inside. We were really scared. When Maria finished, everyone went outside, and everything was gone. Our house was okay, but our neighbors didn’t have a house or nothing. Everyone was crying. We tried to help, we gave them food and water because that was what people needed the most. As the days go by, it was harder because we didn’t have gasoline, signal (no communication), supermarkets (no food), schools. Puerto Rico at that moment didn’t have absolutely anything. 6 months passed when my mom decided to move out. Is been almost 2 years since Maria hit Puerto Rico and there is about 25% percent of people still without a roof over their head.

A Bad Experience Mariia Samsak Ukraine, Level 2

I have had a bad experience of driving on a heavy rainy evening. One evening, my husband, my son and I were at home. Suddenly, I discovered that we were out of milk for our son, and I decided to go to a grocery store. Then, I went to the store by my car that I got a month

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earlier. The weather was very bad: it was cold, windy, and heavy rain. Meanwhile, when I got inside the store, the weather was getting worse, but I didn’t notice it was very serious. During next few minutes, I was shopping, and I heard some announcements, but I didn’t understand what they said, for I didn’t know English. Suddenly, water came up from outside into the store, so all people and I were very scared and badly surprised. After that, we quickly sat on cash registers, and put garbage bags on our feet. Then, I looked at my cell phone, and I was very disappointed – it was uncharged. I supposed that my husband was worried, and trying to reach me, so it made me very upset. After probably an hour, lifeguards got to the store, and helped us escape by boat. Finally, when I was outside the store I saw that the parking lot, the cars were full of water, and my car looked irreparable. After a while, my husband picked me up and took me home. I have never forgotten that full-of-awful emotions evening!

My First Tournament as a Volleyball Player Nirajkumar Patel India, Level 2

My first tournament as a volleyball player was exciting. I was selected as a captain and a player. I was told to practice for 2-3 hours after school hours. Next, our training started one month before the tournament. My coach taught us different skills every week. Now, it was time to perform in tournament. I was excited to play, but on the other hand I was nervous. There were many players and teams around. Some teams were strong and powerful, and others were with few skills. Every team has to play against other teams to go on the next level. My team came across the strongest team, and I was afraid. But, I decided to face them, and we scored good enough. At the end of the match, we lost the game. In conclusion, this was the day when I experienced many things in my sports life, but I enjoyed it a lot.

The Policeman Engy Mosad Egypt, Level 2

I went through an unforgettable experience when my daughter called 911 by mistake. It happened when my daughter, my husband and I were at home. While I was cooking in the kitchen,my daughter played with my phone. I noticed her calling someone . First, I took my phone from her to know who she was calling. My daughter was screaming while

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I was trying to figure out who was calling. Then I was surprised. It was 911! I couldn’t speak from the shock . After that, I gave my phone to my husband while he was watching the TV. He tried to explain to them that it happened by mistake.Then he ended the call safely, and he thought everything was over. After five minutes we found the policeman knocked at the door. He asked me “ Are you okay ?” He repeated this question many times.Finally, I felt this moment safe because policeman in the United States came to make sure everything was fine . Although I was scared when I saw the policeman at the door, it was the first time I felt safe since I came to the U.S., so I can’t forget that day.

The Tornado

Lissa Koysman Ukraine, Level 2

I went through an unforgettable experience when a tornado hit Northfield. It happened in the evening fall. I was alone at home with my three-month-old baby boy. This was the first time when my husband left us alone because he had a meet with friends. My son was in a crib, and I took a shower after house cleaning. When I left the bathroom, I heard a strong loud noise outside. I was scared. The next second an electricity was off. Baby video monitor was like a flashlight for me. I grabbed my son in the bathroom. It is the most safest place in the house. I worried because the garage door was open, and I didn’t know where my cats and how they. Next, I put my son in the baby bath, and went to close a garage door and looked for my cats. They are calmly slept upstairs. It was a good a good sign. I was back to the bathroom and tried to call my husband and his friends, but they were not available. Finally, the loud noise outside stopped. I checked the house and didn’t see any damages. We were lucky! Only next morning I knew that the trees felt down and damages a lot of houses in our neighborhood. Although nothing terrible actually happened to us, living through tornado was a scary experience that I will never forget.

How I Met My Husband Inna Kondrya Ukraine, Level 2

I want to tell you about how I met my husband. Four years ago, on my birthday, I received a birthday wish on Facebook, from a guy I did not know. I simply replied: ‘’Thank you to him”. After this, he would write to me every day. Since he lived in the U.S, and I lived in Ukraine,

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we met first time in person after talking on the phone for nine months. Our first date was in the city of Lviv. We had a romantic dinner at the restaurant. Three months later, he came to Ukraine again. While we were snowboarding, he proposed to me. I said: ‘’Yes!’’ In September 2017 we celebrated our wedding. Our relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend was two years long, but we only saw (met) each other three times during those 2 years. Now, we are family. I’m the happiest wife on Earth.

My Journey to the USA Sarada Gurung Nepal, Level 2

I was 17 years old when I left my home country. I was very nervous; on the other hand, I was excited too. Because that was my first time, I was traveling alone plus leaving my birthplace. Of course, it wasn’t easy to leave my home country. I spent my whole 17 years in Nepal. I had a lots of friends over there. In Nepal everyone speaks the same languages that make it easy to understand others. At the time, when my parents decided to come to USA, I felt unhappy because I didn’t want to leave my friends, relatives and other people with whom I had a good bond. There was no option for me. So, I had to choose my parents decision. They were choosing this decision for my future. I was interested to explore new and different places. As soon as we decided to move here, I was eager to know America. We moved to America in 2007. It was a horrible experience at the beginning because we were not used to this place. Now I think we made the right decision to move here. We are having a great life. I am getting a good education, but at the same time, when I think about the past, it brings a smile to my face. I have lots of good and fun memories from Nepal.

First Visit to Disney World Ivanna Dorosh Ukraine, Level 2

Our first visit to Disney World was very exciting for my whole family. Disney World is an amazing place with a lot of attractions. Our first visit there was in 2018. My son was 9 years old, and my daughter was 3 years old. When we just entered there, my daughter saw her favorite Minnie Mouse soft toys. She really wanted some of them, and of course we bought them. Then we went to see the place where Minnie and Mickey Mouse live. My daughter was very happy and surprised. It was very funny and interesting to see her face, when she saw her favorite

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cartoon’s heroes. After that, we saw a great Star Wars show. It was a big parade with movie’s actors. My son loved this movie very much, and he was very interested to see that show. At the end of the day. There were wonderful fireworks. It was so great! We never saw anything like this before. It was an amazing and unforgettable day with my family. We were so excited! We will remember that day for all our lives.

My Life in the U.S. Khristina Artym Ukraine, Level 2

It was stressful for our family the first time we came here. We didn’t speak English, and we were confused. We couldn’t go to the doctor without somebody’s help. My older son went to school, and we walked to school every day for 25 minutes. We had to walk to the grocery. I started English school at CLCI. I loved this school. There I found new best friends. For me it was like I found a new family, although I miss my family terribly. The first time I celebrated Thanksgiving there, everybody cooked some special food and brought it to school, and we had a big dinner together. Our teacher, his name is Dan, always created something new for us, and we always had fun together. We took a bus tour, and we went to the Cleveland Aquarium. It was an unforgettable time. Every day I was happy to see my classmates and teacher. My mom and brother are in Ukraine, and I still miss them very much. I’m accustomed to a new life here, and I love this life.

When I Came to America Rand Nasr Syria, Level 2

The difficult day, September 22, 2016, changed my family’s life and me because that was when I came to America. First, the early evening of the day I left my home in Syria was both sad and happy. All my friends and my cousins came to my family’s home to spend our last day together. They were about fifteen people. They came to help my family to put our clothes in our luggage, so we will be ready to go. That left me happy. When we finished that, we just sat, and we started to remember the good things together. For example, we remembered when we woke early to go with each other to college, and sometimes we left our class early and went out of the college to have fun. We tried to not let our parents know because they will yell at us if they know. We remembered when we went to ate pizza, sandwiches, and ice cream. That made us

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happy, but when we believed we could not repeat these days, that made us so sad, and it made my friends and me cry. For these reasons, my early evening was bad and good. The late night in my last day, we continued to talk together. We were about twenty ladies and men. We were with my friends and my brother’s friends. We sat in the big room, and we smoked a Hookah and special Syrian drink we called it “Matta.” We told funny stories and laughed. We were so tired, but we did not want to sleep because this was the last night we could spend time together. We stayed awake all that night, and we stayed talking together. We did not feel the time was passing fast, and we just looked at the clock. It was the middle of the night. This a beautiful night finished quickly because we were happy to talk about all the good moments we spent together. We did not know when we can sit together again, and we stayed like that until 5:00 a.m., and we had to went to the airport at 7:00 a.m. We slept just two hours in same room next to each other, but it was crowded. That was of my family’s last night in Syria. In this way this we stayed all the late night together. Lastly, the morning we left Syria was hard and exciting. We woke up to drink a cup of morning coffee with my parents. When we finished, the driver was arriving. We started to move our luggage to the car, and it was last moment. I felt I will leave my heart over there. After that, I said to my parents I do not want this travel. I want to stay with my friends and my cousins. I did not want to restart from the zero because everything new here. In this time my sister could not came with us because her daughter did not have the U.S. visa. We were worried about her because she was going to live alone, and my country was in war. My parents said you have to try a new life. If you do not like it, you can come back. After that, I could not change my mind at the last moment, and I was excited to come to America because I just was listening to the people say the United States is beautiful. Finally, I said bye to everybody, and we went to the Lebanon. It took us about six hours to arrive there. I stayed to cry when we arrived at the airport because I will go to the new country and new people. For these reasons, the morning of the day we left Syria was not easy, but it was exciting. All in all this challenging day started the new life for me and my family.

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When My Daughter Had Leukemia Zaineh Masrujah •Third Place Prizewinner Jordan, Level 2

The hardest years in my life were when my daughter Haya had leukemia. This difficult period of time started with her first getting sick. My husband and I tried to figure out what was wrong. My daughter was four years old. It started a few weeks before her birthday, and she was complaining about pain. We went couple of times to her doctor, but he said there is nothing to do just use cream for her. I took her to the emergency room too, but they said the same thing. For almost one month, we did not know what was wrong with her. She was just crying. She lost weight. She could not sleep. She did not want to play, and she did not want to eat. Her fourth birthday was on March 22, 2016, but she was not happy. She spent her day crying. My husband was saying the doctor said we have to wait until the cream works. A couple days after her birthday, I called my husband at his work. During the phone call, I told him I would not wait anymore because I felt like I was losing my daughter. I told him if you want to wait more, I would take my daughter from the U.S. and take her overseas to see what was wrong with her with another doctor. Then, we took her to Metro Hospital, and we told them everything. They told us that they would make a small surgery. After they made the surgery for her, the doctor said Haya should sleep in the hospital because they wanted to make sure that everything was fine. In that time, we were happy because we thought our daughter will be good and the thing that hurt her was gone. This period was very terrible and hard in our life. The bad news came after we thought we finished. In the morning, I went to the hospital with my son to pick up my daughter and my husband. I started to prepare her toys and balloons because three of my brother in-laws spent the whole night with my husband and my daughter in the hospital. And they brought toys and balloons with them. Then while we were waiting for the papers from the doctor to leave, the doctor came and started to ask a strange question about her blood. He asked us if she fell, or she had any surgery because her blood was low. All our answers were no. After that, many doctors came and told us that there is something wrong with your daughter. They wanted to make sure exactly what was wrong with her, and they will send her to Cleveland Clinic Hospital. After a couple hours, the EMTs came and took my daughter and me by ambulance. My husband followed us with my son in his car. While I was in the ambulance, I did not know what

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was happening. I was thinking that when I went home, I would call my mom and tell her finally I was in the ambulance. Finally, we arrived to Cleveland Clinic hospital. They took us to room inside the building not to the emergency room. My husband and I worried because there were a lot of doctors came. And they started to ask a strange question. After one hour, two doctors came and told us they wanted to make a biopsy for my daughter. And they said maybe she had a leukemia, or if not maybe she had something else. My husband kept talking to the doctor, and I opened my phone to look for the meaning of this word. In that time, after I found the meaning, I started to look for a different meaning because there was no way my daughter had this. My eyes started to fill of tears, but I wiped them away fast. I looked at my husband, and I told him “I know there is nothing with her, and she is fine.” After a couple hours, the doctors came and told us Haya has leukemia, and they had to start her treatment. This news was the worst news I heard in my life. My husband and I started to look at each other and cry. I called my mom, and I told her that “you know mama I always heard about cancer but I never thought my daughter will have it.” Then my husband’s family came to support us. My daughter was sleeping on the bed. Every time I looked at my daughter my tears fell like a flood. My husband too was crying a lot. Then I told myself I have to stop crying and be strong and make my husband strong to support our daughter to finish her treatment. All in all, the day that we discover that my daughter had leukemia was very bad, and I will not forget it in my life. We started to accept the situation because we love our daughter, and we had to help her to finish her treatment. At the beginning, it was very hard because they put a lot of things on her body to check her heart, her blood pressure, and to take a blood from her. She cried a lot, and she refused the nurses. Sometimes she looked at me like protect me from them. She took long time to accept everything around her. Her looks started to change, so her weight increased because she took steroids. Her hair started to lose. We bought a beautiful wig, different colors, and different length of wigs. She was happy when she saw the wigs. We told her that she was sick. The hospital staff helped us too they brought toys for her, and they sent a cartoon characters to the kids room. After that, she liked the hospital, the nurses, and the doctors. Her treatment took two years and a half. Now she finished her treatment, but we still check in the hospital every month. In summary, we understood what our daughter had, and we helped her to finish it. We are so proud of her, and we proud of ourselves. Those years were very hard for my daughter Haya and us.

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The Day of My Daughter’s Birth Rula Kamleh Syria, Level 2

The most beautiful and important day in my life was when I became a mom. On that day, December 4, 2010 we usually celebrate St. Barbara’s Day. In the morning, my friends, my cousins, our neighbors, and I were so excited and busy to prepare for that celebration, so we had a lot of things we had to do. My sister, my cousins, and I went to collect special plants from the fields. On that feast, we had to choose fancy clothes, so everyone had to find different costumes and stuff from their parents, their grandparents, or from anyone else they knew. I was an old woman, my sister was a poor guy, and my cousins were a dancer, musician, blind person, bride and groom, and beggar. Also, we made special delicious desserts awwamaat and qatayef for this celebration. That was a very busy morning. The afternoon was more exciting and interesting than morning. Everyone dressed in their costume. At 4 pm, we gathered in the courtyard of the village church and brought the plants that we collected before to use. Then, we started our tour by walking and singing in our village streets, and we would knock on the door of every house in the village. When the home owners opened the door, we started to sing a special song for the celebration. “Hin hin we want oil and flour, and we want money for the bride. God bless the peasants.” Then, we sang different songs and danced. Before we left, the home owners offered us sweets and gave us some money, or oil, flour, sugar, and rice. We did that in each house in the village. At seven o’clock, when we finished our tour, we gathered in the courtyard of the village church again. Then, we put the plants that we brought before in the middle of the courtyard, and we lit them on fire to make a sound like fireworks. When we finished, we went to the priest and gave him the money and the food that we collected before to give to the poor families. Finally, everyone came back home. That was an amazing afternoon. Lastly, my special moments started in the evening. Two hours after returning home, I started to feel a little pain in my low stomach. At that time, I felt that I will have my daughter soon, so I started to organize my small bag. I put my daughter’s and my stuff in my bag. For example, I put her diapers, small soft blanket, wipes, underwears, socks, and pajamas in my bag. Then, I took shower and dried my hair. After that, I called my doctor to ask him what I had to do, so he told me if the pain increased, I had to call him again to meet him at the hospital.

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Immediately, I called my mom and sister to come to me. At midnight, the pain was increasing a lot, so my husband called the doctor again and told him that we were going to the hospital. When I arrived to the hospital, the doctor was waiting for me. After he checked me, he decided that I had to quickly have an operation. Because I lost my two babies before, I was so afraid of that. The doctor assured me and told me that everything will be okay. After hours of tiredness and pain, I didn’t feel anything until I heard my little angel’s voice. At 2:30 am, my wish came true, and my daughter was born. In the beginning, I couldn’t believe that I had a baby. For me, she was like a miracle and a gift from God. The most beautiful feeling was when I hugged her in my arms, and when she held my finger in her soft and small hand. She smiled like an angel when she was sleeping. My husband was very happy, so he distributed money like a gift to the nurses. My mom and sister weepet with joy. It was very amazing evening. That was the ending of my beautiful day, but the beginning of being a mom.

My Wedding Day Husen Doumet Syria, Level 2

When I became a young woman, I always dreamed that I would have someone to love, and we would have a beautiful and simple wedding. This dream came true. October 9,2015 was a wonderful and special day for me and my husband. The first part of my day was busy. I woke up early about 7.00 a.m, and I drank coffee with my family on the balcony. After that, I went to the church alone and prayed to the Lord to bless my marriage. I was happy and scared at the same time because it was a busy and special day. Then I started preparing myself as a bride. I went with my sister to the beauty salon center in Safita, and I got a hairstyle that I dreamed of on my wedding day. I did my beautiful makeup and white color nails. After I finished, I looked at myself in the mirror and my looks was amazing. This was the scene that I dreamed of being on my wedding day. That was my first busy day. The afternoon continued to be busy like the morning. When I came home, I put on my dream dress, and my friends were waiting for me to take pictures of me on my wedding day. They were wearing amazing dresses. When I saw them around me and the joy in their faces, happiness overwhelmed me. My family was receiving guests before we went to the church. The drum was beating, and all my friends and relatives were dancing. While the photographer was taking beautiful pictures of me in nature next to our house and in different positions, Memorable Times  25

my friends followed me outside to take wonderful pictures with me in nature. After that, the mother of my groom and their relatives came to our house to take me with my family and my friends to the church where the groom was waiting for us. When they arrived to our home, they danced and took some pictures with me. After that, about 4 o’clock we went out of the house and got into the beautiful white wedding car. It was the car I wanted to ride in on my wedding day. While I was leaving our house, my father and my mother were crying, but it was tears of joy. I still remember that moment. Then we went to the church, and the bridegroom received me and brought me into the church to pray with the priest. After the prayer ended, the photographer took beautiful photos of me and my husband in the church, and we went outside to the courtyard of the church to stand with the family so that the people might bless us. We offered chocolates for all the guests. This was the second beautiful part of my wedding. Eventually, my wedding evening was very nice, too with more excitement. My husband and I went to the hotel to rest before the party. About 9 p.m, we went to the party and started dancing to our favorite romantic song. After we finished dancing, we cut the beautiful white cake and opened champagne. It was so excited. Then songs and drumming began, and all of the people started dancing around me and my husband. After that, they started to eat the delicious food. There were grilled meat, chicken, tabbouleh, fries potatoes, and hummus. At the end of the party, we took group pictures with everyone in our party. After that, we said goodbye to everyone and thank them for sharing this wonderful day, and we went to the honeymoon. This was the last exciting part of my wedding day. All in all, my wedding was the most fantastic day in my life.

Wedding and Graduation Day Rana AL Shamaa Iraq, Level 2

April 28, 2004 was a special day for me because it was the last day in my college and the first day in my marriage. It was a sunny and hot day. That day had a lot of action, and I was happy, sad, excited, and embarrassed. The day began with a nice morning in my country Baghdad, Iraq. I had a lot of things to do because that day began to change my life into a new life. I woke up at 6:00 AM. I took a shower, and I ate the breakfast that my mom made. I went to the salon with my brother’s wife. The owner of the salon is a family friend. For this reason, she opened early. After the salon, I went to college. First, other students 26  ESL Voices

and I decided what we will do during our graduation ceremony. Then, we organized the seats and food. After that, at around 10:00 AM, I had to go to court to get married, so I had to go to the bathroom and change my clothes I wore a fancy costume. I went with my mother and my older brother because my father passed away in 2000. My husband came with his mother and father. After we finished signing the marriage contract, we went outside. Suddenly my husband disappeared somewhere. I was nervous and embarrassed. He never told me where he went, and until this moment I do not know where he went. That was how the morning went. The afternoon was more fun than the morning began. As soon as I entered the college, I rushed to the bathroom to get changed from my court clothes. After I finished changing and got out the clothes court, and I wore graduated clothes. My friends were surprised because I got married. They asked where my husband was. And when I said I don’t know, they started laughing at me. My husband and I were in the same college, so we had the same friends. At around 3:00 pm, our party for graduation ceremonies started. They called each one of us up to the stage to get our certificate. Then we took a cute picture all together. When it was time to eat, we all went to the food court. We had all kinds of Iraqi food, cake and coke. One of my friends was afraid of cats. While she was walking toward the table, we were all sitting and a cat came her way. My friends was holding a plate that had cake, and she had coke. The coke flew in the air. A boy was standing right next to her. She threw everything on the floor, and it all went on the boy’s clothes. We laughed so hard at both of them. The boy went to the bathroom to clean his shirt. After my friend apologized to him more than ten times. When we finished cleaning and finished our parties, we had to go home. My friend’s fear of cats made the afternoon greater than the morning. Lastly, the evening was a little bit embarrassing. At around 7:00 pm, we had some family friends coming over to celebrate our marriage with us. We had a great dinner together at around 9:00 pm. It was delicious and amazing. Then we had dessert that my sister prepared. After dinner, we sat with each other to chat. Suddenly the electricity went off. For us we always have to be prepared for something like that. Almost every house had gas generator. We had one too, but we were out of gas. We stayed without electricity for two hours. Since it was off nobody could really see anything, when my niece was walking with a cup of water in her hand, she tripped and spilled the water on one of the guests. We apologized a lot but the man did not seem to care about what happened. My brother and my husband were able to get gas from

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their friends. Everyone returned to their homes at around 12 :00 am. That evening was embarrassing because of the electricity. I will never forget anything happened in that day because I finished my college and I got married at the same time.

Visa Day

Zeyad Almifrij Iraq, Level 2

The day I got my visa to come to the U.S.A. was such an important day for my family and me. It was a long day morning until evening, and it was full with many details, and a mixture of different feelings. It was a beautiful, life changing, frightening, exciting, and happy day. For many years, I dreamed to live in the U.S.A. several times, and I had tried to get a visa. My first application was on December 29, 2010. After three interviews through seven years, I received the date, time and location for new interview. I started to prepare all the paperwork I needed for the interview. The morning of the April 25, 2017 was amazing day. I decided to take my little son and wife, and I sent my other two sons to school. In the early morning after a quick breakfast, I had to arrive an hour early to the location. I drove to the nearest parking lot to park my car, and then we had to walk to enter that location. It was a very hot day as normal summer days are in Iraq. After we arrived at the bus pick up point, I gave our passports to the man who was responsible to see if we were there and ready. Everybody was checked by security and made sure they were safe to enter to embassy. The bus came. We started to get inside the bus, and then we arrived to the embassy. I knew the procedures and what I had to do. After a long time we spent the morning in security check, walking and waiting, but that morning was interesting. The afternoon was wonderful. We were inside the embassy. We sat in front of the glass windows, and there were many people wait in there. We got the number they used to call cases, and in that time we ate some crackers, biscuits and drank orange juice. There was place in there for kids, and there was a babysitter. They called us, and the officer asked me to give the missed paperwork after he confirmed we were ready to meet the consul of the U.S embassy in Iraq. While we were waiting inside the embassy, we were feeling worry because there were many people got their visas refused. My emotions were stopped. In those moments, and I started to hear my heart, and I told my wife we will get refused today. She told me to be patient, but I could not wait. I heard my name, and I had to walk forward to the window, but I felt I could not

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walk any more. This was my family future, then I saw the consul, and he greeted us. After we made the oath as a part of interview, the consul told us that our paperwork were ready, and our visas were approved and it was ready to print. I told him is that true? Is that kind of kidding? He told me no I am not kidding, and he said the most important sentence in my life “Welcome to United States.” That moment changed my life, and me and my wife started crying because we did not imagine we will get a visa one day. The consul told us we will receive our passports with visas in them by DHL. After, we started to pack up our stuff, we were ready to go outside. I kept asking my wife is that true? Are we in dream? We tried to control our emotions, but it was too hard. The issued visa made that afternoon amazing. Finally, the evening of the visa day was nice too, and I had a delicious dinner with my family in restaurant. After dinner I took my family shopping, while we were shopping, I called my best friend who supported, advised and pushed me forward. He was so happy to hear that news, and he gave me some advice for my new life. Then we went back to home. After a long day contained many details, I discussed with my wife the next step, and we spent all that evening talking about what happened with us. All in all, I still remember the visa day as a wonderful day for me and my family.

My Perfect Day Belal Almasri Syria, Level 2

The day of July 14, 2010 was an amazing day in my life. The day stared with an unusual morning. I woke up at 8:00 a.m. as any day in that week, but I did not feel like it was just another day like all the others in my week but in all my life as well. The results of the final high school exams in Syria were on that day. That means I will know my result also because I had final exams that year. After I woke up, I took a shower, brushed my teeth, and started to put on my work clothes. While I was getting dressed, my mom was making breakfast for us. Soon, my dad, my mom, and my father, brother, and sister were eating, but I was just staring at the table. Later, my mom noticed how much stress I had and how many things came frequently to my mind. She and my whole family knew how I was not studying and how I left school to travel to work in Jordan and Lebanon for two years. She realized how difficult it was to go back again to study by myself at home. She put her hand on my shoulder and said: do not worry my lovely son everything will be good

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in the afternoon. After breakfast, I went to work with some concerns and with hope that was planted on me by my mom. That was my uncommon morning that day. The afternoon was not exactly the same as morning, especially at the end. I arrived at the grocery store where I was working and started to clean the store and prepared everything to be ready like filling some products on the shelves. I do not know if I did an extra cleaning to waste time or just to forget what I will receive after a couple hours. After that, the customers started to come and buy some stuff, and I was not focusing on them at all. My mind was totally in a different zone, and my body was in that grocery store. Then after any customer finished shopping, he asked me if I am ok or if something happened with me. In those moments, I pretended to smile at the customers and hide my stress, but I could not hide the fear in my eyes and on my face. Then, I went to pray the second prayer of that day, and I asked my God to help me and let me pass. I know it is too late to ask something like that, but that was giving me some power, hope, and more belief that my God will not disappoint me. Suddenly, while I was praying, my phone rang. I finished praying and went to answer, but I could not pick up in time. It was my mom. I called her back quickly, and asked her to tell me what I got. She told me with a lot of happy emotions: you are passing, you got it my son. At that time, I felt some feelings I have never felt before. Meanwhile, I heard my siblings screaming because they did not believe the result I got. After that, we finished the call, and I started to feel everything is going to change positively from that day. I remembered how I could not wait to go back home to celebrate with my family. It was a strange afternoon. It started one way and ended with definitely another way. When I got home in the evening, there was a lot of fun and happiness. I went back home early because I could not be patient to finish working until night. I arrived home and directly ran to my mom. She cuddled me with a lot of tears on her cheeks. Suddenly, my tears started to fall from my eyes automatically, and I said to her: thank you for helping and encouraging me all that time. Without your help I could not be successful and feel what I am feeling now. Soon the whole family came and said congratulations to me with a lot of laughing and screaming. It was a crazy, happy, perfect, and kind moment at the same time. Later, my brother brought cake, desert, and some decorations to celebrate together with my success. We were all so happy and felt energized. We also sang, danced, and laughed loudly. It was the most incredible celebration I have had in my life so far. That evening was

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great and had many good emotions for me. All in all, one of the most significant and unbelievable days for me was and still is the 14th of July, 2010.

An Ominous Time

Marwah Al Bayati •First Place Prizewinner Iraq, Level 2

Some crises can change our lives and turn them upside down. Those life events can change our souls and maybe make us stronger or break us to pieces. December 21, 2006 one of those days that I never forget about. It was a terrible, scary, and ominous day. It completely changed our lives and made us stronger when my father was taken away forever. I never thought that would be the most ominous day in my life. I had a bad feeling during the time right before and after he was taken. It was a Thursday morning when my father told us that he decided to stop his business for a while because of the deteriorating and unstable security situation in our country at that time. I still remember the uncomfortable feelings I had on that day. He was such a strong man who loved his family and his job, and he would not give his job away for any reason. Something did not seem normal on that day. My father was acting different. He could not sleep as well as usual. He called the whole family and talked about life and how we must be strong and ready for anything. I was in the room with my other two sisters, Amna and Zubaida, when my father came to talk to us. He asked me to massage his back, but I knew he did not need the massage. It felt like he just wanted to spend more time with us. “Have a wonderful night” was the sentence that we heard from our father before he left us forever. I felt very uncomfortable that night. I could not even sleep that night with all the emotions that I felt. I could not see my father when I woke up. He had already left to go work early in the morning. I had very uncomfortable and annoying thoughts since I woke up that morning. I was looking for a reason to call my father just to calm myself down. I did not call him because I did not want to bother him and interrupt his job. My father used to come home around 4:00 pm every day. We waited for him to come home, but he never did. My mother started to become worry and asked me to call my father. The phone started ringing and my heart was beating so fast until the all these scary feeling was interrupted by a rough and rugged voice. I did not want to believe this is not my father, so I said “Hello dad”. This rough voice replied rudely “I am not your dad”. It took couple moments to rally my strength to ask him “Who

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was he” and here is when came the bullet that killed our happiness. ”We took your father with us to ask him some question. He will stay with us for some time.” I almost lost my mind, and I did not know what to do or what to say. I just remember that I was begging him to let me speak with my father but was no luck. After that, I told my uncles and they begin to look for my father. These two days I have a feeling I have never before. We looked for him for 21 days. During those 21 days, we asked every friend of his, all our relatives, and the place he used to work in which was a marble factory. We got some unknown calls, we got threatening messages from unknown people. We could not get out of the house, and we could not even go to our college. One day, someone called us. He said that my father is going to come back at 1:00 pm. We got to excited for that. My mother prepared food that my father liked. We waited and waited but nobody ever showed up. This happened with us for three times. In the middle of these 21 days, I received message in my phone from my father’s phone. This message was empty nothing inside it. I felt this was like a notice that my dad is killed. We did not lost hope, and we still looked for my father. These 21 days after my father was kidnapped were very hard. We could not sleep well, we did not have appetite, and we worried about hearing bad news.

A Sad Time in My Life Elbe Paw

Burma, Level 3

A sad time in my life was when our Karenni Refugee Camp 2 burned in March 2013. Forty people died and over 200 other injured people. All the people were heartbroken and cried to see their houses burned, and some realized they didn’t have anything left. Some people lost their family members in the fire, loved ones, and relatives. I lost my favorite teacher, who was really nice and loved me. I cried so hard when I heard the news that so many people died, including my relatives, and my favorite teacher. We were left without shelter following the fire and we had to sleep under tents on the ground by the river for a couple months. And the International Rescue Committee, and other aid groups provided food, shelter, and clothing for us. After four months we rebuilt our house, but everything had changed. This was the saddest time in my life and unforgettable.

Finally, after several attempts failed, we all gave up. We could not find my father, and we had no idea about where he was. Then in January 8th, 2007, we got a phone call. This call phone was last call we received. Somebody told us to look for my dad at the morgue. We did not know this person who call us, so in the beginning we did not accept what he say. After one day that January 9th, 2007, my mother and my aunt decided to go in morgue to see if that was right. In the morgue, there is a big TV that shows the dead. After two hours, my mother saw my dad’s picture between thousands of pictures. My father in this picture was handsome as usual. He was killed by gun. The kidnappers shot him in his head. When my mom came, she was very shocked, sad, and afraid how to tell us my dad is dead. We started crying and I could not walk like three days. We started to receive people for condolence. My father was dead in December 25th, 2006. That means the attempts were later. In conclusion, my life is change after my father pass away, but I become stronger and powerful.

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Self Reflection Nahoua Brahima Yeo Nahoua Brahima Yeo Ivory Coast, Basic level

My name is Yeo. I am from Africa. My country is Ivory Coast. I live in a big family: my parents, my brother and sister. I am very happy to live in the United States. I studied mathematictechnology in Ivory Coast. Now I am interested in studying English because I don’t speak English very well. We speak French in my country. I need the English dictionary.

The Year I Waited For Arin Brek

Syria, Level 1

I had a dream to be a doctor all my life. I waited until September 2005 but when I started something wrong happened. I was playing with doctor and nursing toys when I was a kid. I grew up, and my dream grew with me. My last year in the high school started in September 2004, exactly one year before the year I waited for. I was super excited. I enjoyed my last year with my friends because it was our last year together. After that, everyone went to their goals. I remember how it went fast and beautifully. It was one of the best school years in my life from September 2004 until June 2005. I was a good student and finished my high school with great grades in June 2005. The summer break started. I had two months to enjoy my time with my family and my friends because after that I had to leave them for ten months. September came and I left my family and my friends to studied in Damascus, Syria. I was super excited my dream will come true soon. After one month, I started to feel something was wrong exactly at the end of October when the weather started to get cold and the sun set

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early. I went back to my home from my evening class and when I got off the taxi someone followed me and tried to catch me. I always heard stories like this from the girls I know but that was the first time I faced this incident. A month after this incident in early December 2005 before the exams started, I asked my teacher to help me with something I did not understand. When I got to his office, he told me that he could help me if I promised him to go out in the evening with him. Almost every week I had incident or two like this, and someone was harassing me in words or actions. Here I started to worry about myself. This place was new for me. I did not know anything there. I did not grow up in this place or somewhere like it. I did not feel comfortable and safe. I could not go to my university or any place alone. I was so tired of thinking about every step outside my home and needing someone to stay with me. Could I continue with this life for six years until I graduate? How could I lose my dream this way? The months went on. 2005 expired, and 2006 started. Late January 2006 I had an option to leave and go back to my real life, but I decided to take a chance and finish this year. Maybe I will change my thoughts. I studied very hard to finish the first year of my dream. I passed all my classes that year despite everything I felt. Then came the end of June 2006. It was time to go back to my family for the summer break. That summer was the hardest summer of my life because I made a big decision. I did not back to Damascus. I could not study in this status. I left my dream behind, but until this moment I still dream. I will never forget that year. It was the worst year of my life.

Professional Recognition Between Men and Women Mariola Carmona Spain, Level 2

Comparing men and women that studied the same degree or getting the same job often speaks of inequality. Without a doubt, men earn a higher salary even in the same position as women. For instance, a main actor in Hollywood always earns much more than a main actress in the same film. In some jobs, where the experience is important, men progress faster and reach higher positions than women with the same experience and degree, even when women have sometimes more complementary knowledge, in languages, for example, than men. When you are a civil

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engineer, like I am, you have to learn that the men’s opinions have more credit and are considered more interesting than ours. In other specifics jobs, like teacher, nurse, gynecologist or cook, the number of women hired is greater than the number of men, but if we think of a famous Spanish chef, for example, I can only remember names of men, like Arzak, Adriá, or José Andrés. Unfortunately, even in jobs developed primarily by women, men are recognized as better professionals than women.

My Academic Growth Ingrid Morales Cortez Guatemala, Level 2

Over the last two years, I improved my English significantly. To begin with, when I first arrived in the United States eight years ago, I did not know any English. Over time, I practiced with my son and learned from conversations I heard in public. Then, a couple years later, I started working. I always felt shy due to me not speaking well. However, I never had the opportunity to join Tri-C until two years ago. Since then, I have truly given my best effort to achieve the highest grades; despite the fact of me working with my husband at home, I still manage to get all my homework done. Even though, it’s been a challenge, I will strive to do my best at Tri-C and at work. In conclusion, as can be seen, I am very proud of myself that I have persevered and will continue to academically grow as time goes on.

Why You Shouldn’t Give Up Jacqueline Miranda Puerto Rico, Level 2

My name is Jacqueline Miranda and I was born and raised in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. My family and I moved to Cleveland, Ohio on February 6th, 2008. We have been living in Lakewood, Ohio for almost 12 years now. Which leads to the main thought that kept me and my children going over the years, “I can’t give up.” Something that I wanted to teach my children why they should never give up, and here I will list the three main reasons why one should never give up. The first reason is that changes are part of life. We are born into a life that is not easy; something that we all learn eventually. You must live and learn, and not give up as you go, everyone has to go through this. In

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my experience, I came from a large and poor family. One of my biggest memories of hardship was when my mother, siblings and I almost died in our home when my father got drunk and set it on fire with us inside it. Do you think that still stopped me? No. I did not let this life experience stop me from going on. I never gave up on my dreams; no matter how hard life was at the time. These experiences helped shape the person that I am today; they made me stronger and smarter. Today there are many people that are going through hardships, some more than others. Whether they are family issues, racism, sexism amongst other struggles. I just want to let people know, that sadly life is based on not giving up when problems arise. Those hardships are the moment where we choose to be negative and sink into a hole, while complaining and beating yourself down with the weight of the problems we carry. Yet we must choose whether or not we want to make our lives better. If we choose to stand up and face our problems, one step at a time, no matter how hard it is, it makes a difference. By approaching it with a different mentality, one will be able to achieve whatever we put our minds to. I have never said, “Life is easy”, that would be a lie, life isn’t easy for the majority of us. But we can make a difference with the way we face these issues. Would you rather be a victim your whole life or stand up and face your problems head on? We are the only ones who can make a difference if we choose to never give up. A second reason is that if you choose to not give up you can reach your goals and dreams. In my experience, after my children turned 3,4 and 5 I went back to University. I studied the four years for my Bachelor’s Degree, and managed to graduate Cum Laude. I was the first person in my family to go to University and graduate. It was a really difficult time for me. Mostly because I didn’t have a lot of money to buy food, colleges books, etc. I used to get up very early every morning in order to drop my kids off at school, go to work, go to my classes at the University to go pick up the kids at school, go home, cooked dinner, helped my children with their homework Then at 11pm, it was my turn to study and do work on my homework. I ended up falling asleep on the floor every night trying to study, and crying every day because of the difficulties I went through. But guess what, because I never gave up on my dream of going to University, no matter how hard life got at the time, I was able to reach my goal to receive my Mathematics Academic Bachelor’s degree. No one can decide what your future will be like, nobody but you. By blaming others for your unfortunate events, and finding excuses for

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not getting things done or having reached your goals won’t lead you anywhere. By feeling sorry for yourself, every day of your life and not wanting to pick up yourself in order to become a better person than you were, you will get nowhere. I have only given two examples of hardships in my life, but believe me, I have so many more that I could have listed but I didn’t. Because I wanted to show you that no matter how hard life was for me, I was able to pick myself up. It took me awhile to get to where I am today, because as I stated earlier, life is not easy and it never will be. It is up to which mentality you want to use. You could choose to be a victim or you can choose to overcome the hardships you are being exposed to. If you don’t choose to give up, hundreds of doors will open for you, I know that it did for me. If you want to reach your dreams, or any goals you have in mind, you have to realize that life could be harder. The third and last reason to never give is because you can be a role model. After I dealt with the issues I encountered, whether in Puerto Rico or the ones here in the mainland, I still showed everyone that the importance of never giving up, it is the key to reach your goals and dreams. I am a role model for my kids as well as my students. I lead them to following their goals and make them to understand that life is not easy. It doesn’t matter what background you come from, or what values you believe in. More so if you are a parent, you must show your children how to lead life. After all you’re there to help shape them into better people and help them reach goals and dreams that they never imagined that they could. For my children, I wanted to show them that even though we sacrificed so much to be here, be where we are today, was worth it. They were all able to go to good schools here in Ohio, and are now university students. I taught them to follow their passions, and not give up when things got too hard. They have lived the same hardships that I have when I was growing up, thankfully no as bad as I had it. But I am proud to have taught them since they were young that life is hard. It’s not as easy as television makes it seem. You must work hard in order to achieve your dreams and be able to move forward in life because nothing will be handed to you in the real world. In conclusion, these are the main three reasons to keep in mind when life is hard. The first reason; life isn’t easy, we all have issues that we must deal with. The second reason; only you can decide your own future, nobody else can. And lastly, you are a role model to your children and to others around you that look up to you, even if you don’t realize 38  ESL Voices

it. Because I never gave up, I became the person that I am today. The experiences in your life help you grow to be a better person, a role model for others and be an example in your community. We have all the tools to reach our dreams and goals. One just needs to learn how to use them choose to never give up.

My Feeling When I Came to the USA Yuliia Boyko

Ukraine, Level 2

I can’t choose one word to describe exactly what I felt when I came to the USA: that was the mix of different feelings and emotional states. It was the month of December. I was impressed by everything I saw in this country. First of all, everyone was preparing for Christmas and New Year events. There was an atmosphere of happiness and lightness everywhere. It was a country of bright, colorful lights, cheerful Christmas music and smiling happy people; therefore, my mood was so exciting. Soon the New Year celebration ended and everyday life changed “its face”. Everything became calm and colorless like clouds in the sky in quiet winter weather. I was feeling a little depressed; I missed my family. Also I concentrated my attention on differences in the customs of my native country and the USA. However, I thought more about what I like, and what I respect in this country. In conclusion, I think everyone is the Earth’s child, that lives in a big house on Earth, but in the different rooms, like countries; it depends on us, what we choose to feel when we come to another room, and how we respect ourselves and our new place of living.

Life Changing

Violeta Albastroiu Romania, Level 2

It is not easy to leave everything behind and start a new life somewhere in the unknown. I came to U.S. fifteen years ago with my daughter and my husband. My daughter was eleven years old, now she is in medical school. The first time I came to Tri-C, I took ESL first level. After I finished my first level, I found a job and worked in an auto dealership and later as an operator of machine insulator coils. Everything was going perfectly. I have a house, a job, a perfect family. What else could I ask for? However, unfortunately, you never know what life could bring you. In 2015, I got very ill, when I had to quit my job, and my life changed at 180. I wasn’t able to walk or to do anything on

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my own for a while. I thought my life would stop there. However, with the support that I got from my family, my doctors and God, I was able to go through, and today I could say, “I am back to life”. Now thirteen years later, I realize that I never finished my education, and there is no way back to my old job because of the chemicals that I worked with. Here I am now, I am back at Tri-C to continue my education full time and change my life one more time. In the end, I am blessed that life gave me one more chance that I could make a change in my life once again.


Traore Abdou Nourou Burkina Faso, Level 3

Today I woke up in the middle of the night just one looking at the mirror, then I realize that I do not look or walk the same. You, who is always on my arm, you, who is no longer by my side; it is empty inside me without you. I do not know how I made it before. You were my future, for sure, and now left me all alone. It is over and I do not know how I am going to get by with no more you. I look at my passenger side and there is no one to ride with me. I can’t sleep at night and I feel like the end because your side was not occupied. The hurt in my eyes won’t go away and I’m in so much pain. I do not know if I can make it again or be myself any more - just that I have to keep that promise that I made to you: “graduate before coming back.”

My Big Mistake Ana Cocco

Dominican Republic, Level 3

At the beginning of my TV production career, many opportunities came to me. Some were great challenges and others had high demands. In order to meet the expectations of my work, I had to have technical knowledge, which I did not have at the beginning. All these opportunities made great marks in my professional and life. First, I had to speed up my work and training process because of the opportunity given to me, without considering my technical knowledge. This was a great demand for me personally and it was a great frustration. Being at the height of my colleagues cost me day and day made my

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work harder, and I had to fire 1000 per 1000 to show that I was up to the other colleagues. Second, not stopping in my career and training correctly in the technical part made me feel that it was my big mistake. I should not have stopped my technical training, I shouldn’t have continued working, I must have to go to Cuba to take the training I need, but the projects came without stopping, one after the other and every time they gave me more responsibilities. To this I add that I was quickly assuming position as I responded to the development of the projects. At the time, I could not realize the big mistake I was making when I could not expand my knowledge. Third, over time I worked with large producers who taught me different points. A producer taught me to work under pressure and become an expert in live programs. Another of them took my hand and showed me how the aesthetic part of a program worked, such as the “graphic line” and the recorded programs. With my last producer, I started working on the Reality Show. In conclusion, being in the hands of these large producers gave me the necessary knowledge to go the level of having my own production company. “The House Production” was the name of the company. I didn’t have the technical knowledge that I had to have to be able to live up to big companies, but I had my own company. I got to have eight programs, which I had to produce, record, and edit. I had to do everything. I focus on each of them being broadcast on the main television channel in my country, including international channels. I was very proud of the results of my sacrifices. Today I don’t want to make the same mistake, I need to make a stop and I have to start studying English to be able to speak it correctly and to be able to take my cleaning company “KC Service Group” to the level of the others in the market.

My Actual and Ideal Selves Grace JH Bae

South Korea, Level 3

People said that seeing positive aspects in their lives is essential for their happy lives. I absolutely agree with that. I try to live thinking about positive aspects in my life, too. However, I am still hungry for a better life, and I do not want my life to stay without any development. My

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actual self is different from ideal one. My actual and ideal selves differ in several areas: family, career, and hobbies. The first area in which my actual and ideal selves differ is family. I have a sincere husband and three adorable children now. I am satisfied with our current situation now, but I want each of us to develop further as we dream. I hope that my children grow up as mature and welleducated adults. I want my children to be people who can not only achieve their dreams but also have a positive influence on others, that is, be meaningful people in their societies and communities. With these wishes, I make a small donation every month now in each of my children’s names, and I would like to increase it if I could afford more. Moreover, I hope my husband will succeed in his business because I know his consistent effort well. The second area in which my actual and ideal selves differ is my career. I am a marketing manager in a global pharmaceutical company having progressed through the experience of a sales manager and a product manager, but my career is stagnant because of English. Therefore, I came to America to improve my English and expand my role in my company. If I become fluent in English, I would like to apply to work in a global team or another country. Then, about ten years later, I hope to retire well as a model of a working mother and a career woman. Also, I wish to begin a new life which is very different from now after my successful retirement. I have lived in a very competitive environment for a long time, and this will continue for a while, too. Thus, I hope that another half of my life, after my retirement, could be more relaxed and contributed to others. Another area in which my actual and ideal selves differ is hobbies. My hobby is the travel which helps me control my stress and give new energy, so I try to plan a new trip whenever I have some holidays or dayoffs. However, I usually stay home and take a rest doing nothing except when traveling. In fact, I tend to be lazy and often waste time in my free time. The problem is that my children follow my laziness. I think we need a common hobby to share healthy time together. Tennis would be a good answer because my husband has enjoyed tennis every Saturday for a long time, and a kind of exercise is needed for us who are lazy. It already makes me happy to imagine my family playing tennis together. In summary, my actual and ideal selves differ in several areas: family, career, and hobbies. I am satisfied with my actual self yet, I wish to better myself also. I long for my ideal self, and I will try hard to attain it.

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The Biggest Change Belal Almasri Syria, Level 3

Who has not done some bad things in his life and has not had some bad experiences, for sure nobody. Who has learned from the bad experiences which he had in his life, absolutely some people not all. Some of those experiences we still remember and the huge emotions and impacts they have brought in our lives in our lives. Today I would like to talk about the most exceptional experience I have had in my life and I will tell you some lessons I have learned from it. I am the youngest sibling in my family, and to be the youngest one usually leads you to be irresponsible and depend on your parents and your older siblings almost in everything. I was rowdy and just liked to play and did not care about anything else, including my parents, and anything I wanted they had to bring it to me, and if they asked me for help or to do anything for them I didn’t do it, or if I did to it, they had to give me money instead. When I started to study in high school and after some problems, I decided to leave school and go to work in another country to make money and to be independent person like most teenagers think. My parents had advised me and told me to go back to school, but I did not listen to anybody and just wanted to start a new life away from my family’s control. I had left to go to Jordan in 2008. I was just 16 years old, after that I worked in a restaurant there, preparing food and washing dishes and doing some cleaning stuff. Through that time I started to suffer from that job and saw the differences between living with my family and living alone and how people were treating me and how my family was treating me and how much I had to be responsible for everything. At home in Jordan, I had roommates so I had to help them and keep the house always clean, and do laundry by myself not like what it was like when my mother did all that for me. Day after day, I started missing my family and feeling more tired of that position, and I realized that life is not as easy as I thought. Everything was going to be harder with 12 hours working in that restaurant with hard policy and hard situations and bad treatment. I was suffering, my back was hurting me, I always felt tired, nobody asked if I was good or not. At that time, I remembered how I had asked my mother to give me money for any kind of thing, and refused to even clean my room, and how with the job I had in Jordan. I was forced to do everything with no choice. All those things were happening but I did not get any lesson, and I still had the same wrong thinking about I was right with everything I did. After almost a year, I moved to Lebanon and tried to persuade myself all that suffering was because I was in Jordan and that I worked there in bad situations, but nothing changed in Lebanon, Self Reflection  43

everything was like in Jordan but even some things were more difficult. Even with the people I was closest to, I did not find anyone to help me. Through time, I started to wake up and to think deeply about the bad things I had done to my parents and myself and how they were right and kind to me and how I was wrong and careless. I have learned that nothing in this life easy, I cannot reach anything nothing without doing hard job, and I always have to think logically and deeply before making any decision. But the most important lesson I have learned is that, nobody will be kind to me like my parents, nobody cares about me like them, nothing is worth leaving and staying away from them, nothing is worth anything if my parents anything unworthy if they aren’t with me. Everything in this life has an alternative, and I can find another friend, girlfriend, wife, another chance for a better job, or to make more money, but I cannot find another mom and dad, and time goes rapidly in this life. And I shouldn’t have done all those and been a naughty son with the people who spent all their life, health, and everything to raise me. I regret every single minute I spent it away from them. And I swore to fix everything and to be a different person, and I went back to Syria with hopes to live and enjoy every single moment with my parents in this short life.

Cultural Experiences People in Iraq

Israa Al-Obaidi Iraq, Basic Level

My country is Iraq. The people are kind and they love life. I love my country because I lived there and I was born there. The people are cooking delicious food. Some people eat fish for lunch on Wednesday because it is a kind of tradition. Children can buy samoun (bread) for breakfast. They help the animals. The people live in big houses. Families are large. The people have safety and peace. They take care about the clothing. The people are Muslims.


Arpine Kakoyan Armenia, Basic

Have you ever been to Armenia? There are many reasons to go there. First, Armenia is a small but very old country. The capital of Armenia, Yerevan is more than 2800 years old. Yerevan is very beautiful, sunny and welcoming. Second, Armenia is a very historical country. It has a lot of churches. The oldest churches in Armenia are Etchmiadzin and Gefhard Monasteries. They were founded in the 4th century. Also, Armenia is the first country that adopted Christianity as a religion in 301, even before Rome. This is the reason why Armenia has the oldest churches in the world. Besides that, Armenia has many different museums where you can spend your time and discover something new. Next, the people are very friendly, helpful and nice in there. They like tourists, and they are always ready to help and tell about their history. Finally, you can find a variety of delicious and traditional foods in Armenia. As you can see, Armenia is a good place to travel and explore. Welcome to Armenia!

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My Journey in the U.S.

Katherine N. Dominguez Dominican Republic, Level 2

I grew up in a poor family in Dominican Republic. I’m the youngest of four siblings and my parents separated when I was a baby; therefore, my mom had a hard time when I was a kid. My father never was there, and my mom had to do everything by herself. I decided to help my family to live a better life even if it was just a little bit. This was one of the reasons why I came to U.S., just for a new opportunity to start over; furthermore, to see a different smile on my mother face. I was coming to US for a couple months and leave around two years. To be honest I have to mention that I didn’t know about racism until I got here and saw it by myself. I just thought how even now there’s people still having such a closed mind. When I finally started to live here, I was scared how my life changed, but I learned how to be a strong woman. It was hard for the culture’s differences and even the weather difference. I’m from country where the people are warm and the weather is hot tropical. With the time I’ve been learning about everything and this country still open doors to me for new opportunities. Nobody say will be easy but the journey make the goal worth it.

How Women Choose Their Clothes? Songyi Yoon

South Korea, Level 2

Style is not just about looking good. It is a way of presenting yourself to others and giving a good impression. Here are some tips to choose the best styles by occasions, skin tones, body types, and age. Attires that are appropriate to situations are quite important when it comes to making a good impression. I have a friend who works at a hospital. She wears caps and uniforms at work, which is proper for her professional look. However, when she hangs out at a bar with her friends, she wants to look stylish and chic. When she is on a date, she wants to look romantic and lovely. In addition, if someone attends wearing clothes that are not suitable for the funeral, how do you think about that? You would think they are crazy. Skin tones are also an important factor to choose a right color of your outfits. If you have a yellow skin tone, you might want to avoid mustard,

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lemon, khaki, or lavender colors. These colors make your skin look more yellow and give you a depressing look. Dark blue, dark green, bright neutral colors will work well with this type of skin tone. Also, if you have a dark skin tone, I recommend you wine, dark purple, navy, or colors that are not too bright. It will give you a calm and intelligent image. Additionally, if you have a reddish color skin tone, I suggest green, purple, dark blue, or some other neutral colors. It will make your skin look bright. Body types are another important element to consider when choosing clothes. Everyone has a different body type. For example, someone have bigger thighs, someone have a shorter waist, some has a bigger bust, or some has larger head. With bigger thighs, you might want to pick a busy top to distract attention or pick a wrap skirt or A-line skirt to cover hips and thighs. You could also use accessories and scarves for an accent. If you have angled shoulders, pick an open neckline top or unpadded jacket and use scarves. If you have a larger bust, you have to avoid a blouse with too much decoration. It is better to pick a simple round neck line top with a V-neck jacket. Also, you have to wear age appropriate clothes. What if an eightyear-old girl wears a suit at her school? Do you think she looks good? You might think her parents are no fun, and she would not be able to run around and have fun with her friends. How about an eighty-yearold lady a wear a tank top with shorts to have dinner with her church friends? Rather than thinking she might have a younger mind, you would think she might catch a cold. Now, you can choose the right clothes by your occasions, skin tones, body types, and your age. You will look fabulous and be a great fashionista.

My Country

Marwah Al Bayati Iraq, Level 3

Home sweet home, this is the popular saying I learned in America when you travel far away from your country or your state. I wish I could say this to my country. If you heard about Iraq you know I couldn’t say that because of the terrible situation in Iraq. I left Iraq thirteen years ago. I recognize three reasons for leaving Iraq. The first reason my family left Iraq was because of the dangerous situation in Iraq. In 2005 after the war was dangerous in Iraq, it started Cultural Experiences  47

with stopping people who were walking in the street or driving their car and asked them about their ID. If they Shie or Sunni that has done by Militia. This Militia was covered by the government. After they check the ID if not Shia and enter the Shia area. They kidnapped him and then bargained with his family, or they kidnapped him and then killed him. Often, they kidnapped people and torture him so that their family can not recognize them. This lack of control by the government killed many people without any reasons. The second reason is that my family is not in Iraq now because our home was taken by Militia. In 2007 after two years with this mess in Iraq. Some people follow me and my sister in the car and start to threaten and harass us. We just left our house and stayed with our aunt for a while. They took our house and all the stuff like furniture, clothes, and all our important papers. They settled in our house like their house. We couldn’t go back to our house, and we just decided to leave Iraq and travel to another country. The most important reason we left Iraq definitely was because my dad was killed. That happened on December 21, 2006. My dad went to work and he didn’t come back. He was taken from his factory. I remember when I called my dad to ask him if he was late or he was on the way. When the phone was ringing and the other person answered me I knew my dad was kidnapped. Four days after his kidnapping they killed him. We asked all the people to help to search for my father. We almost found who kidnapped him. He said he couldn’t do anything to save my dad. Then he told my uncle that he didn’t torture him he just shot him in his head. We didn’t know he was dead for about a month. My mom and my aunt went to the forensic medicine and they showed a picture of the dead. My mom was able to recognize my father. At the same time she couldn’t cry or show her feelings because they didn’t accept that. She asked them to give her his body to start with burial ceremonies They said, they already buried him. Until now we didn’t know where he was buried. After six month we could leave Iraq and we didn’t return. It was very hard to make that decision to never look back. I carry all my memories and all my dreams from when I was in Iraq until now. I want to go back to Iraq some day and throw them out of my mind.

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