Juan Pablo Mijangos Garnica
I do not remember much of my childhood growing up in the United States of America but what I do remember is being challenged with learning how to read and how to write the English language. I was born in Mexico and brought to the USA when I was around 3 years. I was being raised in a household that only spoke Spanish so that was all I knew. I was finally told by my parents that I was going to be enrolled into school, into a pre-kindergarten class at Rankin Elementary. I was nervous and happy at the same time because for the past year I was watching my sister struggle when she came home from school every day. I never bothered to ask why she was having such a hard time but the curiosity finally got to me so I asked her why she was struggling so much. She told me that at school they don’t speak our language so she had to learn how to speak a new language. I was young so I really didn’t understand what she meant by learning a new language or how it was different to how we spoke. I finally had my first meeting with the teacher and it was an interesting experience even though I don’t remember much. I remember we sat at a wood table and she pulled out some colorful blocks that had letters and numbers on it. There was another lady there that was the translator for my mom, sister, and I at the time. She began to ask me simple questions like to write my name and how old I was, Finally, she began to ask me questions in English like “say your ABC’s” or “where do you live”. I just shrugged my shoulders because I didn’t know what she was saying. The teacher said it was fine so we left, I didn’t know what to feel that day.
The first day of school was finally here and my mom woke me up to tell me to get ready.
“Mom I really don’t want to go” I said hesitantly getting out of bed.
“Why” my mom said standing at the door.
“I’m scared, what if I can’t make any friends” I said.
“Don’t worry, you’ll make plenty of friends” my mom said.
“Alright if you say so” I said hesitantly.
“Now hurry up and get ready” my mom said.
My dad told me something that morning that became a habit for him to say to this day, He told me to “have a good day in school and give everything you got”. It’s something that he tells me every morning and it gives me the motivation to do well in school daily. After I got ready, we got in the car and my mom began driving to the school; I asked her “mom will I know anybody there?” She told me that she was going to introduce me to the son of a friend that she knew. My mom also added that I was going to ask him if I didn’t know how to do something or if I needed help.
We finally got to the school and I met the kid; His name was Alex. He spoke Spanish and English because his household spoke both of the languages.
“Hi, my name, is Alex” Alex said shaking my hand.
“Hi my name, is Juan” I said.
“My mom has been telling me a lot about you” Alex said.
“My mom has too” I said.
“My mom told me you don’t speak English well but don’t worry I will help you out” Alex said.
“Yea thanks” I said.
“Do you want to go inside now?” Alex said pointing at the door.
“No not really I want to wait a bit longer” I said awkwardly.
“Stop being a baby and let’s go” Alex said while giving me a push.
“Alright if you say so” I said.
We both went inside and the teachers where waiting for us at the door, I kissed my mom goodbye and that was the day I was introduced to a different world. I would try and talk to the teacher but my English was bad so it was difficult, I couldn’t make conversation with any person except Alex. I even had to ask Alex where the trash can was because I couldn’t read any of the signs. That day I realized that I had to learn how to speak and write this new language called English if I wanted to communicate and make friends with other people. I think it was this moment where I finally realized I was in a totally different place.
After some time I realized how good of a teacher Ms. Kathy, my pre-kindergarten teacher was. She had so much patience in teaching me how to read and write. She would spend so much time on one word with me so I could prefect it. She would guide my hand as I wrote English words. She would spend such a long time explaining to me what each word meant. She made learning a brand new language fun and easy. She would gift me books every Friday so I could read at home.
In my mind Ms. Kathy made Language Arts and English my favorite subject. I would rather read a book than do math problems. Till this day, I don’t think I would be where I’m at if I didn’t have her as my first teacher. I believe she’s the reason I read above my reading level and why I enjoy writing. With Ms. Kathy teaching me English I could finally talk to the other kids without Alex help. I could make friends with the other kids. I finally had the courage to talk to a boy named Richie in the lunch line.
“Hey, my name is Juan” I said.
“Hey, my name is Richie and I thought you didn’t talked” said Richie slightly laughing.
“I didn’t talk because I only knew how to speak Spanish” I said.
“Well now that you are learning to speak English I want to invite you to my birthday” Richie said.
“Cool I’ll try to go” I said with face full of joy.
“Cool I’ll give you the information tomorrow” Richie said smiling.
I was so happy that day because I made a new friend and I was putting I had learned to use. I had a conversation in English with another kid and read the information before taking it to my mom.
After a few years I began to really know the English language. It was a challenging experience but I had Ms. Kathy as a great teacher and my parents to support me and push me to do better. In my opinion when I speak English I don’t have an accent; I give thanks to Ms. Kathy for the motivation. When I look back now that I speak and write English as my first language, I see how much coming to this country helped me progress in my education.