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Essay Contest Results (2nd Annual, 2007)

"My Growth as an English Learner and a New American""

Grades 4-8

Judy Sun
Louis Pasteur Middle School 67, Little Neck, NY
Teacher: Claire Svendsen

I still remember when I first arrived in America. I was on a giant bird with two wings. I looked out the window and saw the white puffy clouds in the blue sky. Far away, I saw the United States of America. I was excited to be in the new world. As I took my first step in the new world, I was nervous. I swallowed hard; my heart was beating so fast that you could here it from a mile away.


I was ten years old back then. I didn’t know much English and I was in ESL. In fifth grade, I couldn’t understand what my teachers talked about in class. I needed my classmates to translate for me in Chinese. I had to go to after school too, to learn more English.


As months went by, I learned more and more. Soon, I could understand what my teachers were talking about in class. I was very proud and happy. When I was in sixth grade, I knew English very well, but I was still in ESL. I couldn’t go to foreign language class. I couldn’t catch up with the rest of my classmates. I was in a regular class. This year, as a seventh grader, I am in “SP” class. I was finally relieved. Learning English is not that tough, but grammar is the major problem for all the ESL students. I had made tons of grammar errors when I wrote essays, stories, etc. I really had a lot of fun.


I have grown a lot as an English Learner. Now, I can read books that have more than two hundred pages and I make less grammar errors. I love this new world and I enjoyed being an ESL student. I’ll work harder in the future and make myself proud.



Venue Yan
P.S. 124

New York City

Teacher: Liz Wong


Ahjeong Yoo

Mill Road School
Red Hook, NY

Teacher: Suzanne Chavez

Grades 9-12


Tomas Kiss-Farengo
H. Frank Carey High School
Franklin Square, NY 11010

Teacher: Mariola Krol


Help, Please, Yes, No, Thank you. These were the only words I knew when I came to America on August 18, 2005. I came to America to start my life over again with my new family. I never thought that it would be this hard.


I never paid attention in school, especially in English class. I never thought for a second that I would become part of the American culture. My Slovakian friends were my family, and we always made poor decisions together. If I had remained in Slovakia, I would have been sent to jail, or killed. Such was the fate of many of my friends in Slovakia. Just six months ago, my best friend passed away because of his bad decisions. During those times, I never thought that I would ever be able to write an essay in English.


When I first entered high school in America, I was very nervous. I started off in ESL Level 2. After a few days, the work in class got harder and I could not keep up. I did not understand what we were doing and I felt really depressed. When I found out that they were going to put me into a lower level, I did not want to accept it. I felt embarrassed because I failed.


When I entered lower level ESL Classes, I learned English faster. I started understanding the words, I was reading and writing. I was really happy because I was doing well in school, and I was able to speak English. However, things at home weren’t as easy as they were at school. We always fought because I was used to living without rules, and I now I had to listen to someone. I felt lonely without friends, and I quickly became depressed because I didn’t know anyone in America. I was going through a very difficult time, and I felt like I had no one.

Through those hard times, I discovered that I was not as strong as I thought I was. I wanted to leave America and go back to my country. I was not the “tough guy” that I used to be, and it was really hard for me to accept that. However, over time I began to accept the lifestyles of Americans. Now I am extremely happy to be living in America. After two years of living here, I speak English fluently, and can read and write well. I am also happy to be in school, and am grateful for the new life and family I have.


I learned a lot by coming to America. My experience allowed me to become a new person. I love my new life, and would never want to return to my old life. I feel like I have been reborn!



Rock Mabaka

Riverhead High School

Teacher: Kathy Blenk


University & Adult


Kit Ling Lo
Adult Literacy Program
Chinese American Planning Council
New York, NY 10013
Teacher: Mae Liu


In 1977, my family and I left Hong Kong and came to the US. When I first arrived in New York, I felt very excited and strange, because everything was so different. After two weeks, I became homesick. It was expensive to make phone calls, and it gave me a hard time. On the other hand, something surprised me: I was excited by the snowfall. It was like a fairy tale (however, the snow melted like a mess later).

Soon, I started to work as a seamstress. In the beginning, I didn’t have much experience. I tried very hard to learn to sew. Although I wasn’t fast enough, the boss was very satisfied with my sewing. I was so happy and proud of myself. When spring came, I went out like most people. I visited the Status of Liberty, Central Park, and the World Trade Center. I learned more about New York, not just working in the factory. I went shopping at Macy’s, Lord and Taylor, and some stores that no longer exist. They are still always on my mind.

Since my children are grown up, I have begun to think about myself. I used to believe I could learn English from my children. Slowly, I found that there was a distance between us. I realized I must go to school to improve my English. After a few months, I feel that I can already communicate better with my children. Life in the US has become more meaningful and enjoyable.



Jooyoung Chae

Elmira College, Elmira, NY

Teachers: Tyrone E. Marsh and Radmila Veshcherevich


Congratulations to all particants in the 2nd Annual Essay Contest!