ESOL VOICES SEPTEMBER 2005 • VOL. 13 This issue of ESOL Voices is dedicated to Christine Anthony, Contents Message from an Immigrant, Luis Vaillant Who Is Your Enemy? Ilmee Song Loss, Mohamed Gazali Life “Yaa Life, Milkyas Legesse How Much Does Love Mean to You? Rita Jundulaite An American Night, Luis Vaillant Storm, Samphara Fasal Quinceanera, Brenda Morales Where Does the Sun Shine? Tuyen T. Vo Nobody Can Help! Akil Aljaysh Escaping War in Sierra Leone, Orlando Bangura French Fried Love, Yuliya Goldman The Day We Crash, Mohamed Gazali Nightmare, Yashira Morell Earth to Sky, Preet Kaur Glowing Waters, Xiomara A. Matos My Boss, Mr. Wossen, Banchirga E. Wondesadik We All Have the Same Heart, Ilmee Song Scared Euphoria, Rattandeep Kaur Barbara’s Long Journey, Lyudmila Kurylo Xavier, Melinda Roman Real Hide-and-Seek, Nanae Imazawa Megumi, Akil Aljaysh The World Is Not Without Kind People, Anna Bulbotko My Wish, Jasmina Daut Me, Khanh T. Vu Little Did He Know, Mirzeta Dogo Siberia – Planet of Miracles, Rita Jundulaite My Name, Nadia Bulbotko A Bird Without Wings, Tuyen T. Vo Lviv, Valentyna Tabachuk A Walk to Remember, Rene Albarran ESOL Voices is prepared by the students of English for Speakers of Other Languages at Monroe Community College, Rochester, New York, under the supervision of Suzanne El Rayess. This collection of articles presents the personal experiences and ideas of ESOL students in their own words. It also presents their ability to write. We hope you will ﬁnd it interesting. We are thankful to the students and teachers who put their great efforts to make it complete and successful. We wish you success and happiness. The Staff 2 ESOL VOICES rush, andale. Let’s go. The new life is noise. Some neighbors are watching Message from an waiting. It will appear in a blink. Then through their windows that face the Immigrant take it all. courtyard. By Luis Vaillant After your Odyssey, you are welcome These apartment residents consist of It is hard to leave your country, your to see and taste real life. Now you low-income Americans and low-income friends and relatives, but when you breathe, relax, and let your body calm immigrants. A number of foreign run out of choices, you have to do it no down because you have landed in the graduate student families are included matter what because life does not give promised land where freedom is for in the immigrant group because this “free.” Now, you will have to learn how apartment is located near the university way out, you might want to know some to arrange yourself to the new life, where campus. That means this housing is of these tips: you will need to add some sugar to not dangerous for bringing up children your memory because the new life and the foreign student families are When emigrating, rush your steps. might make you forget your past, your Keep moving. Don’t look over your family, your hopes, dreams, desires, they are not permanent residents. Her shoulder. Just walk, and pray, pray adorations, even the last time you were family is one of these foreign student and walk and never, but never ever kissed by Mom and hugged by Dad. inhabitants. ever, listen to the voice demanding to Maybe yes, maybe no. Only you know stay. Disguise yourself with a smile, it. “Go back to your country! Bitch.” even though little eyes staring at you Someone shouted. touch your soul, making your heart I had difficult and wonderful days “Yah, go to the hell, stupid Chinese!” saddened. Close the door. Keep going. and nights that I can’t erase so easily Some black k ids made sarcastic Move, move faster, one step after the and even awake, those moments chase remarks. other. Hurry up and don’t look over your shoulder. Just walk, and pray, pray me. Probably for you it will be less painful. But what am I saying? Enjoy While she was watching outside, she and walk. Freedomlandia. Open your heart to felt goose bumps rise up. All yellow the new life and do not worry about the skin seemed to them to be Chinese, just Bring your beliefs tied tight. Fill your pockets with your adorations, dreams future because it has not been written yet. a European from an American, she or desires. Carry the music performed thought. She turned her eyes from the by the sea, the aroma of your land, Luis Vaillant comes from Cuba. He is commotion. Beyond that she stared at studying Visual Communications. the stream of passing cars unconsciously piece of your sky and shrink a shock remembering her daughter’s wrenching of your sun in a can. Bring all your words. “Mom, kids always call me memories, your fights, your goings * * * * * Chinese. I hate them.” Her daughter’s and gone. I brought with me a picture, remark broke her heart. Her daughter my daughter in the arms of my wife, a Who Is Your was just a preschooler, but she had laugh and some tears, a Bible, a palm Enemy? caught on to sarcasm. Sometimes she also met people who sneered at her when a book of Marti, a hug from Dad, and By Ilmee Song she parked among the junky cars in the Mom’s kiss. residential parking lot, even though her “Call 911!” A man shouts toward his But who t al ks about stopping? used car had 80,000 miles and had been wife. His accented voice cracks with Never stop. Keep the rush. Walk faster. repaired because of vandals. rage. His wife disappears swiftly behind This is your race for freedom and you the building’s front door. After a while, she saw two police cars don’t want to lose. Always remember and an ambulance arriving at the side rule number one: don’t look back “Go ahead, son of a bitch!” The of the road that faced the apartment and keep walking, one step after the courtyard. That day’s happening had other. Leave the plane, one step after while making a step toward him. In started as a trivial matter. Around four the other. Open that door hiding the a f lash, people gather around. The o’clock, as usual, kids appeared in the light to the new, and go through. Rush, courtyard of the apartment is full of courtyard to ride the swing set and their ESOL VOICES 3 bicycles. Some little kids’ mothers were A decade later, now she is living in school I felt like I was in a dark, locked watching them. Suddenly, a child’s cries the suburbs. One day, she received an room with no handle to let myself out. attracted the public’s gaze. A little Asian e-mail from her instructor and at the My grades would fluxuate. The city girl was bleeding from her nose in front end of it she found a quote that said, school district provided me with a stick of the swing. “Human beings are not our enemy. to help me navigate around the school. Our enemy is not the other person. Our I denied needing help because I was “Why did you push my kid? You enemy is the violence, ignorance, and embarrassed. I only wanted to walk should have waited until your turn!” injustice in us and in the other person. with my aide. Sometimes I felt like The girl’s mom who was famous as When we are armed with compassion dying because things were so closed. a fluent English speaker among the foreign students’ wives was scolding other people, but against the tendency Second, being seeing means you don’t a small black boy. He was standing to invade, to dominate, and to exploit.” have to be dependent on others. You are in silence, but that moment the boy’s (Thich Nhat Hanh in Anger: Wisdom for able to do as you like at the time that mother was approaching them, rolling Cooling the Flames) you like. Being seeing is like a door up her sleeves. with a handle and light on it. When you It reminded her of this episode which can see, you can do a variety of things, “What’s wrong, honey? It’s not a big she had observed a long time ago. play sports and video games, and drive deal.” yourself. When you can see, you don’t Ilmee Song comes from South Korea need anyone to guide you or hold your “What! It’s not a big deal! Can’t you where she earned a degree in Korean hand. When you see, you don’t have see all the blood? It doesn’t stop. Where Literature. Now at MCC, she is studying to use anyone to see for you; you can is your common sense? All right, you are Accounting. make your own decisions. For example, just an ignorant… You…” when you go shopping, you see the color, shape, and what it looks like and make The black woman grabbed the Asian * * * * * your own decision. When you don’t mom’s hair and shook her back and forth. see, someone has to describe the item It was such a momentary happening, but Loss and they don’t always describe it fully. the Asian woman’s husband on his way By Mohamed Gazali When I’m with my friends, they’d see home witnessed this scene. something and immediately say this is Not seeing could be very difficult nice or bad according to their vision. After that day, the courtyard was in our lives. Sometimes it feels like On the other hand, I don’t have any surrounded in solitude. She couldn’t see you’re in a cage without bars, not seeing response to what they see because there the girls who used to play hopscotch on through the bars, and not being able to is no description. the sidewalk near her unit. Sometimes move in any direction when you want. a little kid appeared to ride the swing, Going from independent to dependent but there wasn’t any cheerful noise of see when you want or move where you will change your life. It’s very hard to children playing together. According to want. Seeing for yourself is better than lose something in your life, especially reports, the Asian family moved out to needing someone to see for you. When vision which will isolate you from the another place and then this unpleasant you are visionless, you have to depend big picture. I began to rely on my other incident began to fade. on people around you, a family member senses to try to picture the big picture. or friend to see for you. Not seeing is Without seeing, it is hard to live and A couple of months later, she heard adjust when you know how life was every foreign student family got a letter when you were not blind. from the management saying without First, when I lost my vision, it was citizenship or green card, it would be hard to adjust to the environment I Mohamed Gazali, from Somalia, is impossible to rent an apartment there was in, such as my school and friends interested in Computers. anymore. From that month, foreign that lived in my neighborhood. I was student families who finished their constantly thinking about negative contract started moving out on. things. The people that I was with could * * * * * not understand what I was facing. Only my aide and counselors in my school 4 ESOL VOICES before she left, he heard her arguing but Hawi was there to walk him through Life ‘Yaa Life with a young man. When he woke up the hardship. By Milkyas Legesse the next day, she had left without him. They couldn’t provide her with the right Sometimes, life has a surprising It was sunny and the day was beautiful. papers for him to get out of the country ending. He never did see his parents He was walking by the beach. He could with her so she had to leave by herself. again; however, he never stopped see the yellow leaves falling down looking. They both, Hawi and he, left from far away. The water felt cold and He found some money, a letter, and a their country and went to the States for the breeze was very sweet and warm. chain. He read the letter out loud, “Son, college. Life is an amazing journey. Life There were people all over and little kids I am sorry I let you down. May God be is just like a chocolate; you never know playing with one another. He started with you for I am not. I left you some what you are getting. But now sitting on thinking about the past. His father had money and a chain for good luck. Keep it that bench near that beach, he realizes been self-employed and his mother had with you at all times. Have faith my son. how much he misses the old days, how worked for the government of Ethiopia. We will meet one day, so be strong and much he loved his family. She was an attractive woman, sensitive, don’t forget that I will always love you.” and short, with a bright smile. For a minute he thought his mother had That little boy is me, and my name is squandered her money on him, buying Milkyas. I will always wish for that little It was back in 1979 when there was a the chain, but it meant a lot to him. He boy to be strong and believe in himself war between the government of Ethiopia froze, staring at the paper. His tears wet and the people who called themselves the paper; he couldn’t stop crying. There luck be with him, for he needs it! the Ehadig or “Outlaws.” It was a was nothing left for him in this cruel dangerous time and the environment world. He was scared and felt lonely. This story is not 100% true. And it’s was evil. He was in sixth grade when the not one person’s life. I tried to make government seemed to lose the war. He thought, “I never understood when it interesting so I gathered different people talked about loving a particular friends’ stories from Ethiopia and He had a loving and happy family; object because it had a sentimental value mixed them together. however, their happiness started to fade or why people were so fascinated with away as the war got deeper. His parents, Milkyas Legesse is a Liberal Arts who were always smiling at each other, almost anything to keep it.” Even so, student. somewhere in his heart he tried to draw May 28, 1981, the government lost the a vivid picture of what they were talking war and everything changed. That was about and why a piece could mean so * * * * * the turning point of his life. His mother much to them. Similarly, he had that had to leave the country before they formed the new government. After all, same attachment to the chain his mother How Much Does left him. she did work for their enemy. Love Mean to You? Two years went by, and he went back to By Rita Jundulaite It was the middle of the night when school. He worked at night and attended his father barged into his room with a school in the daytime. “All whom we It is often said that love is the greatest sad look in his eyes. “I will miss you casually call friends are not actually power on earth. I am a strong believer and always love you my son!” were the our friends but only acquaintances.” of this statement. last words he heard from his father. His Even though he knew many people, his mother packed their things; they would true friend was Hawi. He was from a I recently took a day trip to the go to the rural area. respectable family. His father was an Thousand Islands, with my aunt and executive in a multi-national company, uncle. My uncle had arranged for us to At that time, it was very hard to get on a handsome salary. His family was go on a boat tour of many of the islands. out of the country. The surrounding area very loving and religious. His mother Our trip guide told us that most of the was awfully quiet all over. There was no was a highly educated housewife. He islands were owned by extremely rich one around except darkness. They had families or individuals. old-school weapons on their back. His relate to his problems. Because of his mother was having a hard time getting parents’ background, he faced many Around one hundred people boarded the right paper work to leave. The night problems inside and out side of school the tour boat. I was poorly positioned in ESOL VOICES 5 the back of the boat, unable to hear all This miracle was supposed to be seen “Oh,Dios mio,que es esto! Do not the stories clearly. Suddenly, everyone on February 14th, which was Valentine’s open that door. Please, y tu niña, go to around me started to talk about one Day and also his wife’s birthday. This is your room. Don’t worry; everything is particular island. It belonged to a rich where their love took a twist of fate. A going to be all right. Just take the baby woman who couldn’t decide what island couple weeks before, it happened very with you and stay in the bedroom.” she liked the most, so she built her own, fast and suddenly, his wife died. Since the way she liked. That second I thought that moment the husband’s foot never I didn’t open the door of my small to myself, “How strange people act stepped on this island again. a nd hu mble apa r t me nt. I wa sn’t when they have so much wealth.” feeling any fear, not even pain about He wrote a note saying that the castle what had just happened. That night, I had The boat kept traveling from island of love could never be used as anything only an unpleasant, empty feeling in my to island, each having its own story. else, just as a remembrance of his We even passed into Canadian waters. I everlasting love for his family. then that I found myself in a different witnessed the shortest bridge connecting but a very familiar place. It wasn’t the the U.S.A. and Canada. This view Looking at the island, I know that love small apartment of East Main St. any grabbed my attention, so I saved it in has been there in the past, it is here in more. I was back in the place that I had one of the pictures: two small houses, the present, and it will always be there in the future. my mother. The whole trip I had been anticipating Rita Jundulaite comes from Lithuania. “Hijo,mio.” She started saying and one particular island, which I could see She is interested in a career in the her voice sounded desolate and sad. “I from a distance. It looked very different let you go because that was always your from all the others. Probably it was dream, but I know that you have found the huge castle, which reminded me that your dreamed America is not what of an old English castle from medieval * * * * * you thought...You thought that your times. When our boat got closer to this country was noisy, meddlesome, abusive mysterious looking place, the tour guide began to tell the story that I would never An American Night and uncaring. Now you have found that there is not a lot of difference between forget!!! By Luis Vaillant this one and that one.” About a hundred years ago, a young Bam!!! The deafening noise coming “But, Mom. You know that...” immigrant came to America from from the next door apartment chilled Europe. He started his life here very my skin. “Daddy, Daddy. I know “Let me continue, mijo,por favor. You poor and alone. He was working very what that noise was. It was a shot.” are far from your language, your people hard to make a little money. This is “Shhhhh!!! Be quiet and go back to and your identity, trying honestly to when he met his one and only love, who your...” Bammm!!! once again, but this assure a better future for your family, changed his life forever. The couple got time closer and louder. “Hurry, go back but has it been worth the price that you married and worked together as one, to your room.” have had to pay?” slowly building their future. In this time “No, Daddy. I am afraid. I want to they also raised two children, a boy and stay with you. What will happen if mother any more, neither the feeling a girl. Love kept on growing. As years somebody tries to shoot at me and you of being again in my home living passed, working hard they became one can’t see it?” “Babe, do what I said. room. I visualized my whole life in of the richest families in New York. Go back to your room and don’t worry. colored memories that I thought I had To show his love for his wife and You will be safe in there with your mom. erased. For a few seconds a rainbow kids, the father bought one of the Go, please.” of pictures danced in front of me, Thousand Islands. He made the island as if alive. I saw the bad times chasing “Honey, what’s going on?” “I don’t the good ones and I thought that my the shape of a heart to symbolize his know. I guess that somebody...” I paused life as an immigrant has but advantages love for them. On this ground he built and then whispered, “...killed our over the one that I had carried in my neighbor.” “It was a shot, Mami, I heard own country. shaped decorations. The island was it before on a TV cartoon.” named “Island of Love.” 6 ESOL VOICES “Mom, I want to believe that all violet, resembling a massive misshapen, splitting the sky about me, sounding this is not a mistake. Anyway I can’t mushroom. I ran back to my house. very loud as if I was in a bombarding run back. I never did it before and I My brothers and sisters were on their zone. “It’s only a matter of electrons; won’t do it now.” My thoughts were way to the shelter under our house, the don’t be afraid,” I thought. suddenly interrupted by the voices of safest spot to stay whenever a storm my wife and daughter demanding my was approaching. We sat there waiting When the storm had almost cleared presence in the bedroom. for the storm; it became a show. Slow up, the bulging cloud crept away from moving shadows crept by until the wind over the town. The sky was lighter; We couldn’t sleep that night, and suddenly picked up again with a roar. the lightning and thunder sounded neither could the neighborhood. But I It blew strong, bending mango trees less frightening. The rain came hard; believe that at least our prayers brought halfway to the ground and their fruits it damaged too many crops, trees and some peace to the night. property. The storm was over faster same angry wind sent us scampering to than it came. It left behind a lot of water Luis Vallant, from Cuba, is majoring our cold, damp hiding place, to safety. for the trees, the mountain and the in Visual Communications. earth to absorb, and also small ponds and puddles for the birds and animals In this province, the wind was the to enjoy. * * * * * messenger of the summer storm, only a warning. When the cold wind built up, The town was torn down by this angry monster, which had left many houses Storm when there were no birds or animals out, this meant that a storm was approaching. with damaged walls and missing roofs. By Samphara Fasal I was curious; I climbed out of the hiding place and went up to the kitchen were scattered everywhere. People When I was nine years old, I was came out from hiding places, to try to for a better look at the storm over God living in Northeast Cambodia, near a big Mountain to the west. I peered through river and a high mountain. Behind was mess. Many were hurt by falling trees a gap in the wall. Over the mountain, an endless bamboo forest, home to many the clouds willingly joined, forming animals. Rice was growing in fresh brother. During the clean up, a shingle a gigantic black umbrella, and heavy water. After the harvest, rice patties fell and hit his head. His scalp was cut rain started from the west. Lightning were full of cows and buffalos grazing open. Mom took him to get his wound and thunder exploded at the same time in green grass all day long. In my big, stitched back up. all about me; the force and vibrating long yard where mango trees, bananas, sound of this orchestra made me jump. sugar cane, pineapples, papayas and After the storm was over, the town The streaks of lightning zigzagged from potatoes grew, the monkeys usually took time to get back to normal, but the cloud to cloud and from the clouds to came to steal the fruits, while the robins land was greener because of the extra the earth. picked worms in the mud. The monkeys water and the river that was swelling were adorable, smart animals. Mother The bushy tree behind the kitchen, monkeys were playing with their babies, which was always a safe home for the again; the birds were also looking for hanging them from their necks; it was a birds, squirrels, chipmunks and ants, dry grasses to build their nests. My back beautiful sight. was no longer a home for them. Broken yard wasn’t lovely looking anymore. branches lay all over the ground; some There were tree branches and the plants Suddenly, the animals vanished. My that needed to be cleaned up, but I was branches covered plants. Damaged day seemed boring and quiet without so happy to see that the monkeys had bird nests and ant colonies were lying the animals around, so I went to play come back. everywhere. Squirrels and chipmunks, with my neighbor’s kids. In a matter nervous and frightened, were leaving the of minutes, there were cumulus clouds Samphara Fazal is a Liberal Arts broken trees, looking for safe places. beginning to roll in, meshing and student. building up. The wind stopped. I looked The storm consumed the sky, leaving over the mountain; it was covered by a thick blackness that was torn open a black-purple cloud. In one hour the only by the lightning. It was hard to * * * * * clouds to the south-west were enormous, remember. Crouching down on the an angry combination of black and kitchen f loor, I heard the lightning ESOL VOICES 7 year old girl married to a 50 year old Quinceanera compared to now. In that time they man?” I could not imagine how it would By Brenda Morales didn’t have expenses like today. They be. According to her, her family was a didn’t have such a big celebration. traditional family, affected heavily by A quinceanera is a coming of age Instead they had a simple birthday Vietnamese customs and habits. Most ceremony, much like the American party. It wasn’t pompous as it is today. girls who were born into this kind of Sweet Sixteen, but it is only for Hispanic Many parents at that time didn’t have family must obey their parents’ words, girls when they turn 15. Today families jobs. They couldn’t afford to give a big even let them pick their husband. My often start to save up for this day when celebration. Economy was a problem, friend is a victim of this tradition. Her their daughters are born. It has become but at least they celebrated their 15th family cannot afford to let her continue very important and very complex. There birthday, in a small way. her dream to become an English teacher is a very big difference between today’s because their life was getting harder. celebration of a quinceanero from that In conclusion, the quinceanera is Her dad had lost his job, and her of the past. probably the most important event in mom had been in bed for years with a young Hispanic girl’s youth. Even some incurable disease. She is the This tradition dates back to ancient though the past celebration and the oldest child who has to take care of times when the natives of Mexico and present celebration of this special event everything. She could not stand there South America would present their 15 were different in style, the important and do nothing. Giving up her last year year old females as women ready to thing is that the quinceanera herself of high school, moving away from her marry. Quince, meaning 15, developed remembers it as a special occasion and childhood, unable to wear her uniform into quinceanera, the name for this important transition in her life. to school, to hang out with her friends, event, referring both to the girl and the she was going to change her lifestyle, to event. Brenda Morales is of Puerto Rican live with someone whose age was the heritage. She is planning to work in the same as her dad’s. The hardest thing for The event starts with a ceremony her was breaking up with her boyfriend. where the priest talks about when a She had to swallow her tears inside to young girl is becoming an adult. “You say the word “good bye.” are a woman to God now.” The father of * * * * * the quinceanera accompanies her to the “It is a nightmare. Every night, I altar. After the service there is a large reception with music, dancing, singing Where Does the cannot sleep; his miserable face always appears when I close my eyes.” From in a hall or another big space. Sun Shine? her words, I realized that her boyfriend By Tuyen T. Vo was a part of her life, but her family was Her court of honor traditionally the main source of her living. It was consists of fourteen couples and then “Hey, how long have you been like a hard math problem which needed she and her chamberlane de honor or online?” I typed the questions to ask a smart solution. As we’ve always said, my new friend; I had just known her “Money can solve any problem.” It representing a year in her life. The about a week. “Hello, Mina, do you might be right in this situation. damas, or ladies, all wear the same dress, usually a color complimenting have free time now? I’m feeling so down and really need someone to talk to.” Finding a rich husband for her is the the quinceanera’s dress. From the image of the webcam, I could only thing they can do, without asking her idea. They think this solution will There is also the changing of shoes tears. “Sure,” I said. We began to talk change their life in a better way as well as good friends and at this moment, I as bring happiness to her. But they her father changes them to heels. Next understood more about her background, did not know that they were wrong. her father also puts on a crown with how many problems she had to face. “Everyone has the right to choose what a number 15 on her. Both of these to do, especially an important thing symbolize that the father accepts her “My parents want to marry me to a like marriage. Obviously, the difference transition to womanhood. She can get man who’s older than me 30 years.” about age cannot put them into one relatives or her godparents to help her Overwhelmed with surprise, I gasped, world. A marriage without love will and the family pay for the event. This not knowing what to say. “A nineteen not endure for long,” I tried to console Hispanic celebration is like a wedding. 8 ESOL VOICES her. “No, Mina, sometimes, you don’t image of a 50 year old man, wearing a His looks were far and deep. The man have a chance to choose what you want black suit with glasses on. He held her was suffering. There were no tears in to do because one person cannot go in hand and they both left the computer his eyes, but his face was weeping. He two ways. Even though I extremely hate table, moved toward the main door, and was not a friend of mine. I met him in being born into a traditional family, disappeared instantly. the street. He was walking and talking I cannot make my parents feel great to nobody. I don’t know why I liked this anguish about me. A good daughter man. When I got close to him, I said, would not do that. I think you would better. She understood her family’s “Salaam alaikm, man. Are you all right? also do the same thing if you were me. If situation and prepared willing to do You look sad. What’s going on, man? this marriage can solve my family’s whatever it takes. Her fate did not Can I help you?” belong to her anymore, only dependence the chance to pursue his dream, I would and complying with orders. She was so The man looked at my face well and pious and generous when making this said, “No, thank you. Nobody can help words with a sigh; her face was still wet decision. From two different places, I me. Nobody can help. Nobody can with tears. had the opportunity to be there with help…” Then he continued, “Thanks for her and listen to her story. She was not asking. You are a good man.” “Don’t cry, my friend. Things will a lucky girl, but she had a sweet heart, get better. So, have you met that man I really wanted to know what was yet?” I asked. She changed her sitting accepted her fate with resignation. I going on with him. He was a stranger; position, with her chin propped up in admired her action and felt pity for what it seemed to me he had a problem. I one hand. “No, but my dad told me that she was passing through. Hopefully, didn’t know if I could help him. Let’s he is a director of a popular company. her life will change for the better with try. He’s around 50 and divorced.” She her husband. She might not be happy your problem with someone you don’t added, “He’ll be here soon to take compared with her past life because know, but maybe he would be the one me out for dinner.” I looked at her everything would not be the same again. who’s going to help you,” I said. from the webcam, trying to give her But at least, she has done some positive some courage. “Don’t care about his things for her family. “It’s very kind of you, but…” I past too much. Maybe he’s not bad at entrapped him. “What? Come on. Share all. Remember, if God closes all the Looking out the window, I could see it with me.” doors in your house, he will open a the sky was covered with darkness. It window for you.” “I hope you’re right,” was a quiet street with a couple cars “I will tell you one part of my long she said sadly. passing by. Suddenly, it rained hard. story if you would like to hear it.” He How long would it last? took a deep breath, and said, “ I have a “So, what is the most important thing family. My father lives in Gaza. He is to you, love or money? Do you think Tuyen T. Vo is majoring in Business old, he is blind, and he has no money money can control one’s life?” There was Administration. either. I can’t send him any because I a pause between us. “With me, love is have none. My mother is a weak, old some precious thing that you cannot see woman. She lives in Haifa, where we or touch even if it exists around us. If * * * * * had a house in the golden days. We were a very rich family. Also I have a sister named Aminah. She was a child of two happy, and not worry about what we will do tomorrow to survive, I will choose Nobody Can Help! years when I left her. She is nineteen love. Unfortunately, love is not that By Akil Aljaysh now, so the government has asked her powerful and it cannot win money. And to join the army. My mother didn’t want Writing this story brought back a lot her to go, but Aminah was taken by yes, my life is controlled by money. of memories for me. I can remember force. She is a soldier at Beer- Sheba at There is no question about it. The truth a lot of the things that I did. However, present.” is always the truth.” some of the things I’ve forgotten. But I After two hours of talking, we said wasn’t making up anything in this story. A tear ran down his cheek. He wiped goodbye to each other. It was also the This story was inspired by the truth in it off and then went on. “My friend, you time that her future husband arrived. 1998. are a man; you have a family; you enjoy From the webcam, I could see the the love of a country, but I am nothing. ESOL VOICES 9 I have pictures of a family and a map people were singing, and dancing; we of a country.” all were happy and excited to be leaving French Fried Love Sierra Leone. This was June 27, 1997 By Yuliya Goldman Then suddenly this man cried, “Man, when we left our homeland headed you don’t know me. I’m … I’m homeless. for Ghana, another country in western Are you still sleeping? Wake up then, I’m Palestinian.” Africa. because St. Valentine’s Day is coming soon. It’s time to go and buy all those Akil Aljaysh is from Iraq. He is interested in Radiology. in the Liberia Sea, the ship began to and be loved. It’s time to talk about love roll. People started to cry, others were and do all for love. It’s time to do the vomiting, and at the end many people craziest things and never regret them. * * * * * fell sick. I was around ten years old; I knew everything that was going on, on I never regret what I did on February Escaping War in the ship because I moved around a lot. Then a terrible thing happened in the of the wildest things I’ve ever done. Sierra Leone middle of the sea; the ship stopped. We I was sixteen. I was crazy and I was By Orlando Bangura couldn’t see any other ship except ours, in love. All my friends said that my and we lost connection with the outside crush liked me too, but he never asked In Sierra Leone, we heard on the radio world. We stayed one and a half days me out. This boy was (and still is) the President of Ghana’s voice. “I’m without moving. I thought it was the end totally amazing. However, he was one sending a ship to collect all my people of our lives. But God helped us and at of the shyest people that I’d ever met. to bring you back home.” “What a great last the ship started up again. He always gave me his smiles and very opportunity God has sent for us,” we special looks, but he never talked to me cried. We used this opportunity to free We arrived at the second border called our lives. Abidjan (Ivory Coast). This time we didn’t face any problem. Soon when had mutual friends, but we never hung we saw the lights of Abidjan, people out together. It made me crazy! “How We took the little things we had with us thought that we had arrived until they can he be so stupid?” I asked myself, but and left for the harbor where we stayed realized that the the lights got dimmer couldn’t answer. for one good night. The next day the ship arrived, very late. Unfortunately, and dimmer. No, we were not yet in Once I understood, I couldn’t wait it started to rain, and became windy Ghana. After we passed Abidjan, the anymore. I knew where he lived, so I and stormy with lightning. The harbor Ghanaian people who brought the ship, put my best stubborn face on and just was very cold. In our minds we knew gave us some food and sugar, because knocked on his door. He seemed really that the ship was really coming for they knew we were about to arrive. At nervous, so I tried to ease the situation the Ghanaians in the country, not for night time, we reached the border, and by asking him about his new eyebrow us. The Ghanaians began to enter the we slept till the next day. piercing. He just kept answering my ship, by showing their ID cards, while questions, not even trying to keep this we were standing under the cold rain. Finally, we were at the Ghanaian harbor. Many people had fallen sick conversation going. I couldn’t help After all the Ghanaians were on board, myself, I had to ask him. “Actually... that’s when they felt sorry for us, after after seven days at sea without proper food or medicines, but we thanked God how to say it… I mean…” I took a deep all the disaster we had gone through. breath. “Do you want to go out with We boarded. for letting us reach safety. me tonight?” He looked surprised. Orlando Bangura is hoping to become “Yes, sure… I mean… no, I can’t. I’m The condition of the ship was terrible, a Nurse. sorry. I have something to do.” “OK… but people didn’t notice it because whatever” I said. “See you sometime.” everyone was happy, and running for their lives. On the ship, we, the Sierra I was killed. I was so dead at this Leoneans, were about five hundred, * * * * * moment. I was walking down the street, and the Ghanaians, about three to crying like a baby. All my dreams and four hundred. There was no food or hopes were destroyed; I was humiliated. medicines, yet on our way to Ghana, Lord, I just wanted to die! 10 ESOL VOICES This happened on February 13. St. Amin! I could feel the trees on my right Valentine’s Day was coming, but I was The Day We Crash side; we were leaving them behind upset, unhappy and single. I decided By Mohamed Gazali so rapidly. Less than a minute later, to spend the rest of my life at home, I heard a loud boom noise and all the crying, eating and sleeping. But my One day my friend Amin came over automobiles came to a halt. mom didn’t think so. She woke me up to our apartment in the Mt. Hope project the next morning and advised me to to talk and listen to music from TV with go to the school or start looking for me. After a little while my other friend handle, landing on the road with my different parents. Addi came with his broken bike. He said, “Let’s go to the bike shop.” At that and passed out. On my way to school, I met my best time it was around two o’clock in the guy friend and told him what had afternoon and it was nice outside. After I collected myself, I started happened the other day. I was ready to walking in the road. “Are you okay,” cry again, but he said suddenly, “Listen We started going up the street, up the a guy asked me. “Yes,” I answered to me, Yuliya. I’m not supposed to let hill, Amin and I riding my tandem bike weakly. Three minutes later the lady you know, but I can’t see these tears in and Addi riding his broken cycle behind driver whose car we had run into came your eyes anymore. I’m going to tell you us. We kept pushing on faster and faster. over and asked me the same thing. “Are something, but you have got to promise We were leaving Amin in the dust. I you okay? I’m sorry.” Five minutes me…” I interrupted him, “Yes, I’ve felt uncomfortable going so quickly; I later the police showed up to question already forgotten your name…” am visually impaired and couldn’t see me and the witnesses. Overall, it was what was in front of us. On the way, her fault for taking a left turn in front My friend told me that the “man of ten minutes later, we found my other of us without looking. Amin could have my dreams” was working part-time at friend Muhammad. We told him where avoided hitting her if he had looked in McDonald’s so he could get a nicer car we were traveling to and he decided to before he asked me out. How could he come with us. Sadly, an ambulance took both of us to be so stupid?! the Strong emergency room. “Luckily, Now there were four of us demanding you have only a few bruises and they Instead of waiting, I went to his work, to go the bike shop. As we proceeded, it will heal,” the doctor said. and walked right up to his cash register. rained a little bit. Now guess what? We There was a long line, but I ignored it. I came to the top of the hill and began to Amin didn’t listen when I told him to looked at his eyes and said, “Hi, I need a race down the hill. The tandem bike slow down. I learned that if someone large order of fries, a medium coke and did not have good brakes, only on the is doing something for you – he was a BOYFRIEND!” He just jumped right front wheel. When we tried to stop, the the driver – you don’t have the control. over the counter and kissed me… tandem wouldn’t stop immediately. It You don’t really have a choice to have would take time. “Be careful, Amin, or things the way you want them. I always I broke up with this guy almost two we might crash!” I yelled. “I got this. try to do things for myself. Don’t rely years ago, but we are still friends. He Don’t worry, Mohamed,” he replied. on others! always says he will never forget that As we tore down the hill, the bike was Valentine’s Day. And I’m glad it’s so moving faster. The sidewalk was bumpy Mohamed Gazali comes from Somalia. because it was just one of those wild, and missing pieces. I could feel the wind stupid and crazy things that people do and the light shower blowing on my in the name of LOVE. face. Addi and Muhammad were about ten minutes behind us; we couldn’t see * * * * * Yuliya Goldman is a student from them at all. Russia, studying Fine Arts. “Come on, Mohamed. Let’s pedal faster because I’m trying to catch the * * * * * light. Don’t go any faster.” When I felt that we were moving too fast, I took my feet off the pedal. He kept pedaling, harder and harder. “Oh no, slow down ESOL VOICES 11 daughters will never be happy again.” Nightmare Earth to Sky By Yashira Morell Since that day he became a nightmare. By Preet Kaur Two years later we moved to a small house. I was little bit bigger, and I helped It was a few minutes past 11:00 in the “Please let her go. Don’t you my mother with almost everything, but morning. I went outside to get my mail understand that she does not want you wait. We were missing somebody in the from the mail box, never thinking that any more?” “Shut up you little girl!” story, “the nightmare.” By that time my this would change all our lives. Has this mother was twenty-six years old and ever happened to you? Do you believe in Those were the last words I told the destiny? Back inside the next thing was man that was destroying my mother’s to explore what could be in the envelope. life. Alberto was a tall, skinny, light- One afternoon my stepfather went to The minute I opened the letter I found skinned man; he was also a famous work at eleven o’clock. My mother and myself in a pool of happiness. It was baseball player. When he did not have her friend decided to play a game with an interview call from the American games, he dressed in a black suit with us, in which everybody chose a place Embassy. God, can you ever measure the a pair of black shiny shoes and a silky to hide while somebody was counting depth of your joy, your happiness? tie that matched the suit. He looked like Michael Jackson. He loved my mother playing when “ka boom,” there was Soon I heard a voice from the back a lot, but I think it was more obsession our nightmare! “Did you think that you of the room. “What’s in your hand, than love because he didn’t want her to could get away from me so easily?” “I Preet?” I turned to see. It was coming do anything without asking him and he told you to leave me alone; I’m a married from my dad. “An appointment letter was not my mother’s husband. I didn’t woman now.” “I don’t give a damn if you for an interview,” I replied. “Interview, want him as my father either. Alberto are married or not.” My mother was a from where?” he asked me.” “From the was kind of crazy. little drunk, and he was also drinking American Embassy,” I said. “You lie,” Heineken. She drank the rest of the beer he replied, making a face at me. “No,” One day he came to the big old house I said with a smile. A smile was on my while he was talking to her; when she that we used to have in Puerto Rico. He face no matter whatever I was doing saw that my mother was talking to my that day! his head. “You will pay for this. Did you sister’s biological father. “Oh hell no, she hear me, bastard?” is not doing this to me, not her,” he said Now, the next step was to wait for out loud. “Hey you little bastard, what He didn’t know that we had called the that big day, “the interview day.” Would are you doing with my girl?” “She is not police. We stopped him from leaving by everything be all right? Will they pass your girl, and I came to see my daughter making conversation until the police me? What if anything goes wrong? so you better calm down.” I was ten arrived. When they came, they arrested What would I do then? As the day was years old, but I could still hear them him and took him to jail. He promised coming near, I felt myself surrounded cursing and shouting. “Baby, get in your to come back, but he didn’t because in by a wall of painful thoughts. bedroom,” my mom told me. “Mami, jail somebody stabbed him and he died. I’m scared.” “Don’t worry. Everything They did the job for us even though we America is a big, beautiful and is going to be okay.” didn’t want to get our hands dirty with rich country but these aren’t the most a jerk like him. Finally our nightmare important reasons for going there, I Suddenly I heard my mom throwing thought. The adventure is a much bigger was over. things and saying, “Get out of my house; pull. Have you ever been apart from you don’t have anything to do here.” Yashira Morrell is planning a career your mom and dad or from the person “Baby, I love you and I need you; please as a Massage Therapist. you love the most ? How would you give a chance. You just want to be with react if you met them again after four him, right? Tell me, does he have more chances because he has a child with * * * * * you, ah?” “What if I say yes, would you March 31, 2003, the perfect day had leave me alone?” “I would never leave come. At 8:10 I heard “Daljeet Singh, you alone, and you know that.” He was Rattandeep and Preet, please come to so mad that he tried to hit my mom, and he also had a knife. “You and your 12 ESOL VOICES began with his list of questions for the glowing waters?” “What are you talking seen in Puerto Rico. I confessed that at about, what glowing waters?” I asked. counselor asked us to come back around “The ones in Las Pargueras. You should believing that water could glow like 4:30 in the evening, but he didn’t say if go see them” that, but when I was over there seeing we had passed the interview or not. that amazing phenomenon, the beauty “Silence!” Ms. Baez looked at us of nature, I thought that if it hadn’t been Back home, I tried to keep myself with eyes of shame for breaking the for her, I would’ve never seen it. busy so I wouldn’t think about what was silence. Eve had me thinking about going to happen. At 4:30 sharp we were I did a little research after I got back inside the embassy. Around 5 o’clock I minutes that were left of class. heard our names again from the same water shine. It is a form of microscopic window. There I saw a man holding When the period ended, I immediately three packets. He called my name again. asked her all about these waters that water to shine in the dark, like a sky full “Yes, my name is Preet,” I replied. “Oh, seemed to be so interesting to her that of stars in the sea. Parguera is one of the congratulations, Preet. You have got a she would interrupt the class. She told few places in the world, and one of two permanent visa.” “Oh......, God........... me that she had seen them in Puerto in Puerto Rico. The other one is located Thanks........Thanks a lot.” Rico, an act of nature that only happens in Vieques where this phenomenon is on tropical beaches in Puerto Rico and always visible. Getting a visa was like having the key two other parts of the world. She knew to a locked door. Can you wait to open I was going to Puerto Rico in a week, Wouldn’t you like to see it some day, the door if you have the key? so she wanted me not to miss it. yourself? Soon I was on the land of the United The day I arrived, I felt like I was Xiomara A. Matos is a Visual States, to meet with my mom. The next inside an airplane engine. I immediately Communication major interested in day, when I opened my eyes I found started to sweat. I took my jacket off. As Graphic Arts. myself in a beautiful room with a soft I was walking out of the airport to meet my uncle, it felt like I was walking into ears. “Wake up, sweetie.” It seemed an oven. Now we would be in Ponce, * * * * * softer and warmer than anything I had my hometown, in about three hours, but on our way, I asked my Uncle Adolfo with your family is the best thing, no to take me to Las Pargueras one day My Boss, matter wherever in the world you go. during my visit, and he immediately told Mr.Wossen me that he would be happy to. By Preet Kaur comes from India. She is planning to become a Nurse. It was Christmas time and we were Banchirga E. Wondesadik so busy those two weeks, but my uncle surprised me, and one day we set out to * * * * * I first met Mr.Wossen two months see this phenomenon. I had heard that after I arrived in the USA. I was looking in order for the water particles to glow for a job so that I could survive in a there couldn’t be a moon, but that day Glowing Waters the moon came out half full. When I country where every minute of life is By Xiomara A. Matos connected to money. It was my fourth job application when I went to one of was made of glass. If you looked down Deep soundless states controlled Mr.Wossen’s gas stations and asked one into the water, you could see the water the students in the class room. I didn’t of his employees, ”Are you hiring?” shine. Earlier, I had doubted myself like it when it was this quiet. It always “What pump number did you say?” that the water could just glow, but as happened when we were taking a test, The cashier did not understand me, so I I watched it glow I was amazed at the but it was the way it was supposed to repeated, “Are you hiring?” She smiled beauty that nature has, a beauty that you be, so peaceful that you could hear a and pointed to the owner. Since then, bee soar across the room from end to I was very eager to know more about end. Suddenly, Eve, my friend, burst the When I got back to Rochester, I this man. silence to ask me, “Have you seen the couldn’t wait to tell Eve what I had just ESOL VOICES 13 My new boss, a hard working, strong, could earn after a college degree, he her scholarship, but that day I was truly and kind man about forty, immigrated prefers his. However, he supports overwhelmed by the enormous number from Ethiopia thirteen years ago with immigrants who are going to school. “I of books. Her library was full, from his two daughters and wife. According like a person who goes to school because the bottom shelf to the ceiling. All her to Mr.Wossen, it was not as hard to you spend the money anyway, but your books had tags and they were arranged immigrate in the 80’s as it is now. degree stays with you in that you can be in alphabetical order. Thirteen years ago he was here visiting employed wherever you go.” his older sister when he applied for permanent residency permission that he His advice to the new immigrants Literacy Volunteers. I still don’t know got two years later! is “have a clear future regarding your exactly how old she is. I would guess career development. If you have the Mr.Wossen has been driving a taxi at potential to change yourself by academic night and working in a gas station for work, please do not give up. If you was leaning on a cane as she walked. more than eight years while his wife has have the potential in labor work, work been staying at home with the children. hard. This is America. You can change inches tall with a surprisingly energetic He has been working sixteen hours a yourself in every aspect of life, if you voice, bright blue eyes and a warm, day, seven days a week. He worked hard are really a person who would like to affectionate smile. We usually met at be changed.” the public library once a week. Now he has two. A couple of months later, Barbara had Mr.Wossen learned English here in me that he enjoyed being with me. He knee surgery. About a month after her the USA. Although he went to school smiled, “I say again, be strong and do surgery, she mailed me a postcard of when he was in Ethiopia, he did not not give up!” have a chance to speak English. When “Four legs are good; two legs are bad. I asked him whether the language Banchirga E. Woldesadik comes from I returned from the hospital with just Ethiopia. She is interested in a career two legs. Luckily, I kept my cane in my said, “Not at all. My job was not the closet.” I laughed a lot. At that time, kind of job that requires clear speaking during our meeting we had been reading of the language.” However, as he worked George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Her wit towards his goal, he needed more * * * * * and knowledge of literature made me English to communicate. more interested in reading even though He thinks that life by itself is a kind We All Have the my English still wasn’t very good. At the end of the postcard she wrote, “from of college in which one can learn Same Heart your teacher and friend.” everything from the society you live By Ilmee Song with. “You do not have to go to college Barbara wanted to have our next to learn the language that is spoken by “I am really overwhelmed by the meeting at her home the following week. the community in which you live. Listen roses. I have never received this kind The day I visited her, I baked a dozen to them, speak with them and then at of treatment in all my life. Thank apple turnovers early in the morning. least you will be able to communicate you!” Barbara exclaimed, gazing at the On the way I bought a bouquet of yellow bouquet of yellow roses she had just roses. When we sat at the kitchen table speaker.” placed on her old grand piano in the with tea and the turnovers, I asked her family room. The combination of black how she became involved with Literacy How did he become successful, I and yellow gave a cozy feeling to the Volunteers. “I just wanted to share my wondered. He breathed a long sigh and room. I looked around, following behind ability with others.” That day I would said, “It is a long story. I was like you her, as we walked through her 100-year- hear about her life. when I came to America. In short, hard old house. She led me to her sunroom work and a clear goal helped me to reach which faced the backyard. On one side, She and her younger sister had grown where I am now.” He likes working for a wisteria sofa set was placed and on the up in Philadelphia with well-educated himself rather than being employed other, her desk, which was surrounded parents. She studied History and Arts by someone else. When he compared by bookshelves. I already knew about at Yale University where she met her his business with the income that one husband when she was a senior. Her 14 ESOL VOICES husband, whose major was English, good person for my grandchildren and family. I enjoyed tricking my friends, was two years younger, but he was a hard worker as a taxi-driver in New but my parents were really royalty to very mature and smart. Even though York City, there is something making me.” I understood what she meant. different majors, they had a lot of similar her life hard. I don’t know if you can interests. They married when he was understand my point. There are some This is one of my old memories, one still an undergraduate. big differences between my son-in- of the most wonderful conversations I law and my daughter,” she added. Her have had in my life. I will always thank After his graduation, they went to daughter’s life was hard for Barbara, but Barbara for treating me as a friend even England to study more. While there, she wasn’t sad about it because it was her though I was a young foreigner who daughter’s choice, one which Barbara came from a small country. She taught three years apart. Seven years after their had to accept as her mother. me we all have the same heart, so we can departure from the USA, they returned always understand each other. to New Haven, Connecticut where each “My real sorrow was my younger started their teaching career at Yale. son’s sudden death. It pained me more Ilmee Song, from Korea, is studying Within a couple of years their daughter than losing my husband.” Barbara was Accounting. was born and they bought this home. younger son was in university, he met “It was a perfect life, one which I had a lovely French girl. He went to France * * * * * expected,” she said with a smile. Soon with her and lived as a farmer. He had her smile was covered with clouds. One day she received a call from the police always wanted to live a totally different life. One day her daughter-in-law called Scared Euphoria to notify of her husband’s death in a car to tell Barbara that her son had been By Rattandeep Kaur accident. Her two sons were teenagers crushed under a large tractor. “I lost and her daughter was in primary school “WOW, Mama, is it true or are you my words. He was just twenty-seven at that time. She did her best between kidding me? I don’t believe it! How years old. Can you believe that? It was her job and children. “My husband’s could Daddy agree to spend our vacation like the earth turned in the opposite death showed me another side of life. in Shimla?” I hugged my mom tight. I direction.” Her daughter-in-law, a I became cynical toward life.” Barbara was feeling so warm and happy. It was teacher of middle school, is raising their made a bitter smile. like I had won the lottery! After a long two college daughters by herself without remarrying. Barbara has kept in touch She had a hard time with her daughter vacation together. with her French granddaughters often when she became a teenager. She was and both girls have visited every couple very smart, but rebellious, and never I was seven years old when my mom of years. “Without me, how can they interested in boys smarter that herself. came to my playroom and told me, connect to their father’s roots? They After her college graduation, she left “Pack your bag, Beta. We are going are my responsibility and my love,” she home to travel and fell in love with to Shimla on Saturday of this week.” I smiled. a Turk she met on a cruise. “It was was astonished. My mouth fell open. I smiled, but I didn’t utter a word. Her older son’s family is living in a lot of obstacles living together. Now California. Sometimes Barbara goes My mom, sister Preet, Daddy and I they have lived separately for almost there to see them and her younger sister. left the house at six that Saturday, in one year, but my daughter is thinking However, she didn’t want to move from the early morning, but before going, we of reuniting for their children’s sake. New Haven because she has created prayed to God for a successful trip. Do you remember my granddaughter, wonderful memories with her husband, her children and her career there. We took a bus to the railway station, girl who had curly, brown hair and blue half an hour away from my house. The eyes. One day Barbara had brought her As I got up to go, Barbara pointed out train took eight hours to get to Shimla in to our meeting at the library. I never a black and white picture on the wall in the mountains, but in the meanwhile, we imagined her as a mixed child because of the hallway. “They are my parents, my sang songs, played games and puzzles. her perfect big blue eyes until now, when younger sister and me when I was about We approached Shimla in the evening. Barbara told me about her daughter. “I seven years old. I have always showed My parents booked two rooms, one for don’t want my daughter’s reconciliation this picture to my friends. Then they them and the other for my sister and me. with my son-in-law. Even though he is a would envy me as if I came from a royal ESOL VOICES 15 The rooms were so cozy and peaceful. The monkey opened his jaws, making Barbara is a widow. She is almost 85 horrible scary noises. He was showing years old. When I asked her where she Around nine at night, we had a his sharp teeth and angry eyes. He was was born, Barbara answered me with delicious vegetarian dinner of saag and making bigger eyes and approaching delight in her dim eyes, “I am from kari. We had a little chat after the dinner me. I was so anxious. As long as he Poltava, the center of Ukraine. We lived and then went to sleep. was coming toward me, my heart was in a village as beautiful as the Garden of beating faster and faster. Suddenly, he Eden.” It doesn’t matter how beautiful The next morning, I woke up from my snatched the banana from my hands her homeland could be. The time when bed and opened the curtain to look at and went away. I was still scared. Then, she grew up was very difficult and the weather. It was an incredible day; I I rushed to my mom and hugged her unstable. was feeling so relaxed, and calm. Then, tightly as if she were one of my stuffed I rushed to my parents’ room. “Good animals. “Until the year 1928, life was very morning Mama. How are you? Have you good. People had their own land and looked at the bright sun outside?” “Weren’t you afraid, Mama, when I could sell their goods or use bartering,” was standing far away from you and Barbara told me. Then disaster started. Happily, we decided to go shopping the monkey was making scary noises The government took away lands from that morning for Rajasthani dresses and and faces at me?” “Yes Beta, we were people who were good owners and had dishes. The shops were near the hotel. It worried for you, and for a second, I more wealth. They became so poor took us ten minutes to get to the market thought that monkey would bite you. and many were sent to Siberia. They place. We bought dresses in pink, blue Thank God, he didn’t harm you,” she and gray. We bought Rajasthani shirts answered softly. and children. Then they decided to form and skirts. There were different shops collectives and created propaganda to for different cultures. In the meanwhile, I was so grateful to my parents for encourage people to work together: How I heard some Chinese, Arabic and Hindi protecting me and making me feel safe. good their lives would be! Everybody music from the loud speakers in the The moment sticks out in my mind and would have equal rights. “They made street. Next, we moved to a toy shop never leaves it. I learned a lot from this the beds good, but it was hard to sleep.” beside the music shop. incident. A dangerous situation can Barbara described their false promise. occur at any place, at any time, just as Luckily, Barbara wasn’t sent to Siberia As I entered the shop, I saw a huge, I faced it. because her mother was a widow with three kids and she didn’t have a large bear. Look at his big, blue and shining Rattandeep Kaur, from India, is property. studying Nursing. big, white, fuzzy bear.” I thought he Disasters didn’t stop. When Barbara was looking at me and wanted to play was 12, the Russians started a holocaust with me. * * * * * to kill Ukrainians. That year was good for crops and people gathered a good When we were ready to leave, outside I saw a monkey and suddenly started Barbara’s Long harvest. But the Russian government forced the heads of collectives to take crying. My tone changed into sadness. Journey all the provisions from the people. “Mama, save me. It’s going to bite me. Now everyone in the East and Central OH NO, it’s coming to get me.” My By Lyudmila Kurylo Ukraine was starving to death. West heart was pounding like a running Ukraine at that time was under Poland When she appears at the corner of my horse. The monkey was acting like a who was trying to help. They gathered house, I can check the time. It’s exactly monster. food and wanted to send it to Ukraine, nine o’clock. She walks with a cane, but you would be surprised to see how fast but nobody allowed them to do that. I said “DADDY, save me. It will kill and how big her steps are. She is not me.” My dad said, “Don’t cry, Beta. “Russia wanted Ukraine destroyed,” young, but I could get jealous because We’ll get you. I am coming to you, but was Barbara’s comment. The statistics of her energy. Every morning she goes you have to hold my hand softly and say that in the Holocaust in Ukraine by my house to shop in Wegmans, which gently. Take care. Don’t try to rush to more people died than during World is close to my street. me.” “Okay, Daddy…. I’ll do whatever War II. Barbara was a live witness of you say.” it. People were more than starved; they 16 ESOL VOICES tried to eat everything that could keep couldn’t be recognized. Lyudmila Kurylo, from Ukraine, is them alive. When it was spring, they planning to major in Nursing. started to eat like animals. They ate “You wouldn’t believe it,” Barbara leaves, grasses, and roots. Whoever had said with a smile on her face, “They were 15km from my house and I didn’t * * * * * even expect him back.” Because she it was named gallety. She remembers hadn’t had any news from him during how skinny she was and her mother was the war, when he came home Barbara Xavier swollen. People became insane from the cried for a long time and very loudly. By Melinda Roman hopeless situation. Some of them killed She had buried him in her thoughts and their children and themselves. Some of now he appeared as an angel. His face was very dirty. He smelled them were buried alive. Barbara’s husband was against Russia like he hadn’t taken a shower for days or Barbara said, “It was a miracle that and the war. He told Barbara that they maybe for weeks. His clothes were dirty we survived.” She had a stepfather and his shoes too. When I looked for him who was a shoemaker. He was sent to better life. When the Germans asked on Ave. D, he asked me if I was going different places to work. People paid who wanted to go to Germany, with him with goods which he brought home. her husband Barbara took her two small At that time the value of food was gold, children, and together they took the train to Berlin. His life has been so hard. At fourteen, and the stepfather told her mother to his family found out he was a drug exchange all of their gold for food. Life in Berlin wasn’t easier because addict, and left him behind when they After two horrible years of hunger, the that city had been bombed by Russian moved away from Rochester. That was government let people plant again to soldiers. They found jobs on a farm and when he chose the life that he is living have some food. lived there for 7 years. The people were today, sleeping in abandoned houses, When Barbara was 18, after three friendly and helped them in their needs. stealing to go to jail to have a place to months of dating, she got married, but Barbara’s husband wanted really badly sleep when it is cold. their happiness didn’t last long. Her to go to the USA. When people were evacuated to Australia and Brasilia, he If you go to the city, you will see him husband Nick went into the military still waited for America. Barbara had with a shopping cart full of metal cans when World War II started, leaving never thought about the USA, but her and bottles to exchange for money for Barbara alone with two kids at home. A husband was very determined to be drugs. He has been living this life for few years into the war, Nick was trapped here. thirty years. He has been in jail more by German soldiers. They kept him in than twenty times for stealing. “The captivity, but he knew what they were In 1951 on the “Captain Black” they only family that I have is the drugs.” going to do with him. He couldn’t even sailed 8 days and nights, and after People know him around. Sometimes sleep, thinking about how to escape. many years of roving, Barbara and they offer him food, but he asks for With a friend, he decided to run away at Nick arrived in the country of their money instead. Years ago he almost night. They dug under the barbed wire. dreams. “God bless these people, who died from an overdose. He is more accepted us and gave us everything that and more dependent on drugs until the swollen, but in their hearts there was a we needed. We were poor, hungry, and point where he needs the drug just to spark of hope. Fortunately, the ground barefoot. We were as animals in a cage. get through the day. “It’s easy to start was of sand, which made it easier to dig. Hiding from the Germans, they crawled In the America we found a happy life for us and our children.” quit. Believe me I know it well. Your about a mile until they found a stack of life will never be the same again’” He hay. They dug under it, making a hole The next day when I saw her from my has tried to quit, but it is impossible for for a place to sleep. When the sun rose, window, I wondered again about what him. To go to a rehabilitation place he needs papers and he doesn’t even have village. An old woman opened the door the circumstances that didn’t break her his social security card, or any of his and asked them, “Oh, my dear sons, are spirit. She is still walking lively and important papers. you hungry?” They were grateful to her. She also gave them clothes, so that they looking forward, not turning back. ESOL VOICES 17 Xavier has two children and no clue see them because of the leaves. I thought where they are. He would like to see Megumi them but how? Sometimes he thinks I waited for ten minutes, but nobody By Akil Aljaysh he would rather not meet them again found me and then I couldn’t even hear because he doesn’t want them to see their voices. It was almost 5:00 pm. I had I was standing behind her, silent. I him like that. to go back home, so I tried to get down was thinking about what she was going from the tree. to tell me about her life. She was a This poor man gave me sorrow when small young woman, short and straight- he talked to me. His face sometimes “Oh my God! I don’t know how to waisted like a child. Her forehead was looked like he wanted to cry. get down from this tree.” I shouted my shining though the smooth curves of friends’ names, but nobody answered. I black hair. She was sitting in her comfy Melinda Roman is from Puerto Rico. tried to jump down, but I was too high chair, holding a cup of coffee in her She is a Human Services major. up. I felt so lonely, and didn’t know what to do. It was getting dark and cold. I had window. As she looked at the beautiful been in the tree a long time and was sky outside, she took a deep breath. She * * * * * almost crying. was so relaxed; I just let her enjoy her coffee for a while. Real Hide-and-Seek called my name. It was my mother and “Hi Megumi! How are you doing? I By Nanae Imazawa brother. “Nana, where are you?” “I am am so sorry I’m late,” I said. “Oh no, here! In the tree!” I said, shaking the It’s okay. I have nothing to do today. So I used to go to the park to play with my branches and the leaves. My mother how’s your day?” she replied. “Not too neighborhood friends when I was child. and Hiroki ran up to me and helped me One day, my friends, Yuka, Kanako, get down. You know I have a lot to do this week.” Megumi, Kosuke, Yumi, Shun and I went to the park as usual. It was shiny “Your friends told me they couldn’t always do.” Then we started talking spring day. First, we played with the about her life in Tokyo and how she sand and made a tunnel and a castle. It you. Don’t ever do that again, OK? If became a professional skier. was a very good job and we had a feeling you want to climb a tree, you have to be of satisfaction. Then we played tag. with me, Dad or Brother.” “I am sorry. Megumi is a Japanese girl, who was After a while, we got tired of running I didn’t expect that I couldn’t get down born in Tokyo in 1979. She lived with her and we discussed what to do next. At from here. I’ll never do that again.” “You mom. Her father left when she was two. the age of six, we had to go back home should call your friends; they are also Megumi grew up in an Asian society at 5:00 pm. We had thirty minutes left worried about you,” she answered. where they gave more respect to men at that time. than to women, which made her mom On the way home, I decided to stop at worry about her more than usual. She “Let’s play hide and seek! All of us my friend Megumi’s house. She said, “I would never let Megumi play outside agreed, so we did “paper, stone and thought you had gone back home, so I alone. Her mom was a ski instructor. She scissors” to choose the seeker. I looked went to your house to make sure that you used to work in a different city because for the place to hide while the loser were there, but you weren’t. We really there was no snow in the city where counted to thirty. The best place where worried about you.” they lived. Every day she would leave Megumi with her grandma. thought. The tree which I found had lots After I got home, I wrote in my diary of the leaves, and I could climb it easily. because it was really scary. My mother When Megumi was four years old, Then the seeker said, “I am coming to made curry rice, my favorite dish. I her mom decided to teach her how to never went up that tree again and I always hid in a safe place whenever we I saw snow.” The pretty girl’s face, When he approached me, I held my played hide and seek again! breath. He found my friends one after so surprised when she saw the heavy another, but he was not able to find Nanae Imazawa comes from Japan. snow for the first time. She was six me. After a while, I heard my friends Her career plan is to become a Music years old when her mom took her to talking about something, but I couldn’t Therapist. the Nagano Olympic games. Here the 18 ESOL VOICES snow was about eight feet high. The “Oh God, I am just at the middle of beautiful place was crowded with people The World Is Not the line”— my heart started to beat so from the entire world. When she saw Without Kind quickly. I knew that they wouldn’t wait for late passengers. I decided to get in snow, it made her so excited that she People without a ticket. Of course, there were was there. From that day, Megumi put By Anna Bulbotko not any empty seats, so I stood like in her mind she had to practice skiing many other passengers. I knew if the every day. Her mom was so happy that “The world is not without kind controller came to check our tickets, her only daughter started to love her people”— words from a song I had he would kick me off; he would never favorite sport. heard not just one time on the radio, give me a chance to buy one inside the but I had never seriously thought train (this is possible only for passengers When Megumi saw her mom so about what it meant. The author of this whose town does not have a place to proud of her, she started working out song probably wrote it from his own every single day, and at the same time, experience. Maybe he had experienced head and in that very moment I heard she followed her mom’s suggestions. a hard situation in his life and at the last the voice I was scared of. It was the Although it was hard for her, she never moment somebody had offered him a controller. I shuddered, but tried to be gave up. helping hand. Was this his reason for calm. “What am I going to say if he asks writing this song? me to show my ticket?” I asked myself again and again. in Japan’s speed skiing competition. “Hurry up! It is 11 o’clock already! Do She had the chance to become one of you want to be late for your train?”— my “Can I see your ticket please” the the national team. Besides that, she was thoughts sounded in my head. I had controller asked a man who was reading also a great student, graduating from the rushed off quickly from college; I the newspaper. The man took out his University of Tokyo in 2002. ticket from his packet and showed it train station. I could have taken a bus to him. “Thank you.” “And yours, I wondered how she felt when she to the station, but I didn’t because it young lady,” he asked me next. A lot was skiing. She said. “I can’t describe went very slowly. I thought walking of horrible thoughts filled my head. the great feeling. I think there is an I would be there quicker. On my way My heard thumped like I was running. air tunnel from me to the goal area.” I kept thinking, “Hope there is not a “What am I going to say? ”I asked When Megumi is skiing, she feels like huge line for the tickets.” At the station myself again. “Can I see your ticket?” she is operating a spacecraft, moving I began to search, to see if there was he asked me once more. “I don’t have instantly by supernatural power, the one of my relatives already in line. But one. I didn’t get to the train station on view radiating out in all directions. there wasn’t, just a huge, huge line and time because of my classes. I am so nobody I knew. It was three days before sorry… Can I buy the ticket from the Megumi is a Monroe Community the Easter holiday. A lot of students were lady who sells them on the train? ”I College student studying English. She trying to get home as soon as possible so asked him in a shivering voice. “Let me is waiting for the competition of 2005. the trains were always full. Sometimes see your ticket!” he almost yelled at me. She thinks she has a good chance to take one train couldn’t hold everybody. The “I don’t have one.” I took out my student the championship in 2005. town, where I was studying had a lot ID and showed it to him. “I’m a student. of different colleges, universities and I don’t have enough money to buy a Akil Aljaysh is from Iraq and planning institutes and students from all over ticket at the original price. Can I…” to become a Radiologist. Ukraine came there to study. “What am I going to do? I didn’t have enough “This is not an answer,” he interrupted money to take a private mini-bus.” I me. “You have just two choices: buy the * * * * * looked at my watch, took a deep breath, ticket at the original price, without your took out my student ID and stood in student ID or…” His eyes were fearful line. I always took a train because the and huge, “GET OUT OF HERE!” and the horrible man indicated with student ID card. Suddenly I heard an announcement about a train which was have a…” I tried to say something, but arriving. he interrupted me again. “I told you ESOL VOICES 19 already: I do not care. You are a liar.” help me contact the band, but I was not arrived with her mom and her manager; He stood behind me, yelling. I knew he successful. I tried to watch the music the director of the school showed them was serious because I had seen before television show “Bravo,” which gave the way to my class. As they were when controllers put out old people and information about Tic Tac Toe’s tour, quietly approaching the class, they students who didn’t have tickets, even but I missed it because my parents called my teacher out. I thought I heard in winter. were watching another program. A somebody mentioning my name and I few months later, I found out through became very nervous. My teacher came Across from me was sitting an old a friend that they would be having a back and said, “There is someone here lady. She heard my situation and felt for Jasmina.” It was Ricky. She came in sorry for me. She took out some money to get the tickets and go to the concert. from her purse and held out her hand to It was fantastic. Even though I was not The rest of the day we had fun together. me. “Take it and go buy the ticket.” Her able to visually see them, I still had I was so happy. voice was calm and pleasant. My eyes more fun than ever. However, my wish to meet them did not come true. The line I succeeded in reaching this goal. And “Thank you very much, dear. How can to meet the band was too long and my I will continue trying to succeed in my I give it back to you? Where are you sister who was with me did not want to future goals. Sometimes it may seem from?” “I don’t need it back. I know how wait for me. impossible, but if I try to work on it, it you feel. Just take it,” she smiled at me. will happen. “Thank you again. I’ll never forget you.” Several months later I had to go to I found the lady who sold tickets, bought the hospital because I became very Jasmina Daut, from Bosnia, is one and showed it to the controller. He sick. When a child is in a hospital for planning to study Psychology. said nothing. a prolonged period of time and they cannot attend their normal schooling, the hospital provides educational * * * * * I cannot forget the lady who saved me on classrooms for them. Soon, I became that day. Now I know that “the world is not without kind people.” very close to my teacher, Mrs. Weiss. Me One day she told me about the “Make- By Khanh T. Vu Anna Bulbotko, from Ukraine, is a-Wish Foundation.” I said to her, “Yeah planning a career in Nursing. right, there is no such organization.” She said, “I will send a representative to your room.” One day I was in the room * * * * * with Frau Keöning, who was reading a book to me. All of the sudden someone two letters gives this word a more My Wish was knocking at the door. When the door opened, there was Andrea from By Jasmina Daut the Make-a-Wish Foundation. I just could not believe what I heard. She told When evoked, it revives in each of When I lived in Germany, there was a us memories, regrets, thankfulness, me that I needed to write a letter about pop group called “Tic Tac Toe.” I always and affection. Combining with the my wish. a way to meet them. In the group were I wrote my letter in Braille, and Frau motherland. All Vietnamese yearn to three singers all girls. Their names are Keöning helped me handwrite it. I Lee, Ricky, and Jessie. Their style of had to wait about six months to get an born, and grew up. Our land contains all music was rap, but the things they sang answer. The Make-a-Wish Foundation the feeling of our hearts. about were non-violent. They would said that Tic Tac Toe had broken apart as a group. It would be up to me whom experience. I would get a chance to meet. I decided mom getting weaker, thinner, my heart on Ricky. felt down. All of her lifetime she not I tried everything I could to make my only took care of my father and us, but wish come true. I tried calling radio Months and months went by. When also of my father’s parents. That is the stations and music stores that could obligation of a married Vietnamese 20 ESOL VOICES woman. was crying because of the hard life born upon my mom’s shoulders. It was a hot summer day. Mother and Following the sweet melody, with I were on the way home after she picked all the hopes, and wishes of my mom. me up from school. Mom led the bicycle * * * with one hand holding the bucket on the the risks and perils of life. Nothing can saddle behind. With two small hands, I The sunset had already disappeared, stop me because I have my mom, my tried to reach it as I wanted to help my but the sky was still pinkish. I was whole world. mom hold the bucket still. sitting on the chair, looking outside, thinking of one thing which I always Khanh T. Vu’s career plan is to “The pigs are hungry!” my mom said, thought of every evening, the time my become a Pharmacist. her feet were making longer steps. I was mom would sew. I wanted to learn how silent and trying to take longer steps to sew. too. I knew the pigs were hungry, but * * * * * the smell of their food bucket made me Coming a little closer to my mom’s feel sick. We usually got the waste food chair. I murmured into her ears, “I’m from the restaurant for the pigs. Mrs. wondering if you teach me how to sew Little Did He Know clothes, I can help you even just a little By Mirzeta Dogo owner of this restaurant. part. For example, I can sew the bottom of a skirt. Don’t you think I can do that?” This last weekend I was invited to My feet were getting tired. I wanted I stopped a while and talked in a loud charity dinner organized by the Bosnian to tell my mom, but I could not. She was voice. “I’m going to sew tonight.” community in order to raise some in a hurry. Besides raising pigs, my mom money for families in Bosnia that are had to sew clothes to sell at the market My mom looked at me with tears on still having a hard time trying to live a tomorrow. Her skin was a little thicker. her face. As each tear dropped, each of decent life as a result of the war between Under the sunshine, the wrinkles on her my breaths became heavier. My face 1992 and 1995. forehead seemed to become deeper with turned cold, wet from my own tears. the worries of life. My mom hugged me tightly and talked When I got there, the room was three quarters full. There were a lot of people Suddenly I hit a rock. My toes a poor life.” Wiping off my tears, she that I knew from previous gatherings, began bleeding, I started to cry without continued, “All the things I do are for all but also some new faces and one that thinking about my mom who was in a caught my eye was a young man in a hurry. “Are you ok?” she was saying, to make a better life. Whatever will wheelchair. I asked one of my friends happen, just remember one thing - that about him. She grabbed my hand and a house on the way. She looked around I always have faith in you.” pulled me towards him in order to introduce us. As I got close, I noticed his crying although it still really hurt. She held me tight, and let my head eyes were light brown, nearly the same lean against her chest. I could hear the color as his thick hair. When he noticed “Mom,” said I. “I’m ok, but I can’t beating of her heart sending me the us, he smiled. He had wide shoulders walk anymore for now. We need to messages of love. With all my power I and was wearing a t-shirt. One could not get home soon to feed the pigs.” Blood said out loud, “I will do all the things but notice his long, muscular arms and kept coming out. She looked at me and that you want me to do.” Tears were dropping fast, each one sealing my be about 6 feet tall. His story is one of come back to get their food.” I nodded promise. the most amazing I’ve ever heard. instead of saying sorry to her. After asking permission to leave the waste “Ok. Are you ready? We will begin Mujo Skiljan was born on May10, food there, she gave me a ride home. 1970 in a little city in central Bosnia I sat behind her, leaning my head on is spinning the thread and threading a called Jajce. This is where he grew her back. needle.” Smiling with happy faces, we up, went to school and met most of his worked and my mom sang a song, which My tears were coming out one more children; he thought his life was going time. I wasn’t crying from the pain. I in a good direction and that he had a beautiful future. Little did he know? ESOL VOICES 21 On March 13, 1992 the part of the worked here for about a year and a half, town where he lived was attacked by really enjoying it. “Maybe I’ll open up Siberia –Planet of the enemy army. All of his family my own place,” he thought. After all the Miracles managed to escape, but a couple young bad things that had happened to him, he men decided to go back to help an twelve months injured friend that had been shot by a sniper. When they got there, the enemy a happy future. winter, others army surrounded them and they had to Then one day, in March of 2000, when summer give up. There were four of them plus he was coming from work, he was at an By Rita Jundulaite intersection, about three hundred yards a POW. For twenty-two months they from where he lived. As the light turned made him do everything in the camp: green, Mujo started going forward, It was nice Sunday morning. My aunt chop wood, dig trenches, work the land but when he got to the center of the and I woke up early and left for church. and anything else that they could think intersection, another car, driven by a We have our own Lithuanian church of - all that on a little piece of bread and nineteen year old who was under the here in Rochester. In our Lithuanian some water. One day, digging trenches community there are around two on the front line, he stepped on a land red light and struck Mujo’s car. Mujo hundred people. After church everybody mine which tore into the right side of was taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital, and goes for a small breakfast, just to talk his body, from his foot to his neck. In was in critical condition for two-three and see how everybody is doing. I came weeks. Surgery was done on his spine to the US a little bit more than two years aid, and struggled for about several ago, and after me just one more family months until his body started healing. he was paralyzed from the waist down. followed. So, in these two years I got He thought he would never see the light After the hospital he spent six months in to know everyone from Rochester’s of freedom again. Like all the others, a rehab center, to get better and to learn Lithuanian community pretty well. But he was just waiting for the day when how to live in that condition. a couple of weeks ago, when I went to he could die because no day would go church with my aunt, a new face caught by without somebody being killed on Now he lives with his brother, who my eye. the front lines or beaten to death in the was brought to the US after the accident camp. to take care of him. Mujo says there She was an elderly lady, very shy, are two sides of him now. One side is standing in the corner, like me the At the end of ’93 the camp was when he is around people; he tries to discovered and registered by the Red stay funny and talkative like he’s always introduced her to us. She was her Cross. His prayers were answered in been. The other side is when he’s alone; mother. The family invited us for dinner, a prisoner exchange with the Serbs on he thinks a lot about things he did before to know each other better, so that this January 13, ’94. and is not able to do now. It hurts him mom would not be so scared and shy. really bad when he sees people do things The war stopped in ’95, but there were which are bad for their health or quality Onute Milusauskaite was born in 1927 still too many refugees and unemployed of life. They don’t appreciate the healthy into a rich farmer’s family. There were people because the Bosnian economy body God has given them. He says about three daughters and three sons. She was had been crushed. In the spring of ’96 them, “A waste of a perfectly good pair the fourth child. some hope emerged out of nowhere. of legs.” Mujo believes in God and he By chance he learned about a special understands that life has to go on. He In 1945, December 31st, early in the program for former POW’s which sent will keep praying to God and hoping morning, Russian soldiers occupied people to western countries. their house. Onute’s father and two point that they can help people like brothers were arrested. Onute, her In October of ’97 he came to Utica, him walk again.. That’s Mujo, always mother, two sisters, and her six year old NY. For about thirty days he studied hopeful and never wanting to give up. brother were locked up in the house. The English at the Refugee Center, and then threshing-barn, where they kept forage, he got a job at a curtain factory. After Mirzeta Dogo is interested in a Health related career. days later he found work at a small One month later, on New Year’s Italian restaurant called Joe’s. Mujo Day, three trucks full of soldiers came 22 ESOL VOICES back. They took all the family’s wealth, The end of December, Onute was put In 1951 Onute met her future husband. butchered all the pigs, harnessed the on an old military boat, for an 18 day trip He, like Onute, was a political refugee. horses, and took all the cows with them. to Macadam, Siberia. The temperature She moved with him into their own But this was not enough; Onute and the at that time was -30 to -40 degrees small house, and a daughter, Victoria, rest of her family were arrested too. was born after a few years. 1955 they there she developed a severe case of moved into a bigger house. They were After a couple hours of driving in pneumonia. Then she was hospitalized happy to move into a new place, but bad for two months. Because of the extreme fortune followed them. The next year military camp. From there Onute and weather conditions, she developed joint Victoria died because of terrible weather her mom were sent on in the same problems, back and heart ailments. conditions and a lack of proper medical truck, but her brother and two sisters attention. The family was crushed, were left behind. After some time, the Then she was sent to a central hospital, but Onute soon realized that she was nineteen year old girl was put in a jail thirty kilometers away, for special care. pregnant again. The same year another cell, separate from her mother. Here Throughout a one year period she saw daughter was born, Larissa, and then they were treated worst than animals. death in front of her eyes again and another two years later, Tatiana. Nobody could fall asleep. Soldiers again. Eventually she recovered. After always were around to make sure that she got better, nobody let her rest for a During this period, the whole family everybody stayed awake. They wanted while. She was placed in an all female was kept as political refugees, never the prisoners to be exhausted and then colony to do forestry work, which was allowed to go back to Lithuania. they would hold an inquest. so hard that it should have been done by Thousands of these families were kept males, instead. in Siberia, all very close to each other. Three months later, Onute’s family was punished by a military tribunal. In 1950, September, Onute received a notice that she would be set free. to leave. It had been 24 years of mostly years of reformatory work without The same day she was transferred to a misery in a God awful place. When any personal rights and her parents, male colony where they placed her in the family moved back to Lithuania, ten years. That day all the family was the laundry room. Onute didn’t know they had to start from the ground up, together; the tribunal let them stay in how long she was going to stay there. with nothing. Then in 1980, Onute’s one cell just for one week, and after That night freedom was not going to be husband died, leaving her in charge of this everybody was moved to different easy. Threats of rape and harassments the family. places. followed. She pleaded with them not to harm her. While Onute was telling her story, September 1946, hundreds of prisoners, tears never left her eyes, not even for political and criminal together, were The following day, in the morning, one minute, the same as mine. Nobody pushed into big, dark trucks without she was brought to the camp supervisor. could tell that this shy and scared face any windows or seats. After one month He told her all the rules of her new would hide such a strong and frightful of driving, they got to a military colony “Freedom.” She was allowed to have person. She had come to the US to in the north east of Lithuania. Refugees, family, have her own living space but visit her daughter’s family, to see her the same as criminals, were treated she could not leave Siberia. Twice a grandchildren. Onute knew about very badly. The food was very poor, month she had to register in the camp America just from pictures and her kids’ letters. She never even dreamed and distributed all week long without for 20 years, with all her family. that one day her foot would step into this big country. When I asked her how brought to them, the people went crazy The beginning of her new life was she feels here, she answered, “Like in for it. Security guards were needed so very hard. Onute didn’t know anybody. heaven.” the prisoners would not take more than She was walking in the streets, looking their share. If you dared to take too for jobs. One day she went into a barber Rita Jundulaite plans to work in the much, you could be killed on the spot! shop. The barber didn’t need help in the Onute until this day remembers every shop, but he took her to his house to small detail. work as a housemaid for his family. * * * * * ESOL VOICES 23 Nadia Bulbotko is preparing for a an easy job, as I recall. Watering made My Name career in Nursing. the soil wet and slippery. I had to be By Nadia Bulbotko really careful where I walked. If not, I might fall over the carrots. And I knew “I hate my name!” I cried. I was * * * * * my mom wouldn’t be happy to see that sitting on my father’s knees while he happen. started a fire in the fireplace. “You picked the worse name on the earth and A Bird Without After watering the vegetables, we inside and sought a chance to pour it Wings went to the coffee field. This field was immense compared to the others. out on my father. But it didn’t make By Tuyen T. Vo Because coffee was a long-term crop, it him angry. He just smiled and put more could live for more than twenty years. Have you ever worked on a farm? Just close your eyes and imagine how We picked coffee beans every year and it feels when you spend your childhood so the size of each bean grew bigger. He had named me Nadia. In Ukrainian, Walking along these coffee trees, I could Russian and English it has the same raising vegetables instead of playing as other kids. That was what I did since I see the red-ripened beans hanging on the meaning -- hope. I wanted to have a tree, waiting for pickers. The sunshine more romantic name, like Lilya -- the was 11 years old. It marked in my life an unforgettable time. sparkled on their sides, making their skins smooth and bright. The branches sea gull in English. It was a pleasure to were swinging every time the wind blew smell the aroma of the beautiful lilies in It was a sunny day of June, when the sun was still hiding behind the by. The smell of fresh beans was good our garden or to see the pretty sea gulls as it mixed with the wind around us. We mountains. My small town was covered with darkness. My alarm had wakened started to pick the beans and put them the water. But ...Nadia and hope... What into the basket I carried in front. does that mean and how could I see it? me. Forcing my eyes to open, I tried My child’s intellect couldn’t understand to reach the alarm. I turned it off and headed to the bathroom, still yawning. When the sun reached the highest the meaning of my name. It was only 6:00 am. “Mina, are you up yet? We’d better go!” It was my had become red and all wet with sweat The warm air from the fireplace because of the heat. Tired, I lowered touched my cheeks, and they turned to mother’s voice. Running downstairs, I smiled at her, “I’m ready to go, Mom.” my body to the grass under one of the coffee tree shadows, took off my hat and house. began to fan myself. At this moment, I out, checking all the windows and doors to make sure they were locked. understood how hard my parents had “I always wanted to have good luck Then, she beckoned me and we began tried and how much sweat and tears they in my life. And I have. Every time I got to walk to our farm. It took us an hour had used to provide a better life for us. sick, I hoped to get better. Planting the apple tree, I hoped to eat the fruit. And I to get there. that they were all planted with vegetables did. I hoped to get a good job. I hoped to From far away, our farm appeared and fruits. “It took them years to have get married and start my family. Every person has hope because our life is slowly and it looked small. But when I it became huge, surrounded by all the At the end of the day, my mother and many diseases. We hope there is no war. How great to have hope! Hope for my mom to take care of the carrots. a good life and a happy future. Until She held the hose and started to water there is life, there is hope. There is a the young carrots. I followed her when she moved around, trying not to let the so happy with all the work I had done Nadia. for my mom. At 5:00 pm, we packed up hose hit the carrots. and were home at six. That night, I had “I gave you the most beautiful name The temperature was high during the best sleep ever. on the earth,” smiled my father as he the summer, so we needed to water agree with him. these crops every day which was not the farm, I was clumsy, making many 24 ESOL VOICES mistakes. But my mom gave me a chance have it, hah?” “I would feel, probably, to accomplish something, my first bad. However, you are old enough regular price is $50.” important experience in my childhood. to understand things like if I had the money I would buy you a piano right “Okay, I’ll do it,” I interrupted the education affects human beings. There away. man. “You know the rules, right? Only were some people who had to work on a farm to survive because they lacked Unfor t u nately pianos are ver y education. My mom always told me, “A expensive, and I can’t afford to. I am you get a piano.” “Yes, I know.” “Are person without education is just a bird very sorry. You know, Valya, I want to you ready? How many letters are there tell you something. When I was a child, in the word Lviv?” “Four!!!” I screamed. as they are able.” Whatever I do, she is I didn’t even have a toy, and I never “U-h-h-h, you are fast, girl, very fast. the one who pushes me into studying. complained to your grandmother…” Here you go. Congratulations. It is yours She always hopes education can help me My mother stopped talking and started now.” He took the electronic piano, a to cry. I felt ashamed. I turned my “Yamaha,” and handed it to me. with farm work. body. “Look, a-h-h-h, Mom I didn’t mean to hurt your feeling, I am very I was astonished, speechless. Looking Tuyen T. Vo comes from Vietnam. Her sorry,” I hugged my mother. “Daughter, at the piano, I couldn’t believe it. major is Business Administration. I love you and I promise that one day I remembered my mother’s words, your dreams will come true.” With “Valya, I promise you that one day your my mother’s words I ref lected and dream will come true.” I realized it was * * * * * comforted myself. a gift from God, “Oh Lord, Thank You very much.” My mouth barely moved. “Valya,” my dad called me. “Come Lviv here my girl. Would you like to go with It was the happiest day in my life. Here By Valentyna Tabachuk me and visit Lviv?” “Sure daddy, I in Lviv, my dream came true. “Thank would love to, I think we will have a nice you Daddy for taking me to Lviv.” “Probably you don’t love me enough.” time together. When are we leaving?” I lay on my bed and started to cry. “Tomorrow in the morning.” “Okay, Valentyna Tabachuk comes from “Mom, why can’t you afford to buy a Dad, I’ll be ready.” Ukraine. She is planning to become a piano for me? Why can’t you make my Nurse. dreams come true? I don’t understand At 11 the next day we were in the old why I can’t have the things that I want. city of Lviv. My dad parked the car in I am probably the unhappiest, ten year front of a food store, because we were * * * * * old child, in the world!” My mother was hungry. “Valya, what do you want to sitting next to my bed on a chair, without saying a word. I stopped talking too. eat?” “Buy me a mashed potato with A Walk to chicken and apple juice, okay?” My Immediately, I felt my mother’s warm dad opened the car door. “Look Dad. Remember hand on my head. “What do you want, There are two guys behind our car. It By Rene Albarran Mom? I don’t want to talk to you.” seems like they want to talk to us. Don’t you think so?” Thirty seconds later the Last week while eating in a Mexican “Valya,” my mother’s soft voice two guys were standing beside our car restaurant when the busboy came to holding a big bag and showing us some the table with chips and salsa I told my baby. I am your mother, and I want papers. my wife, “I bet he is from Mexico.” to talk to you.” “About what do you want It was a surprise to me because if you to talk with me?” “You are my daughter, “Hello, sir. We were just walking here haven’t noticed, in Rochester, Mexican and I love you with all my heart. You are and saw your girl in the car. I think we restaurants don’t have Mexican people the most important person in my life, have a present for her.” I opened my eyes working for them. I introduced myself and I don’t want you to feel sad about wide, “What?” “You know, today we and we started talking. He told me that the piano.” have a special day in honor of our city, his name is Ricardo that he is thirty which is a100 years old today. We are years old, and that he just moved to “Mom!!! How would you feel if advertising a little electronic piano, and Rochester. I asked him a few questions you wanted something and you didn’t everyone who will answer our question ESOL VOICES 25 like how he came to the US, what he village where I would call somebody me to the 0.5 star hotel across the street thought about the country, and it turned to pick me up.” “Just like that?” I said where I had to share a room with another out into a full conversation. I asked surprised how calm he was, talking him if he could tell me more about his about it. “Yeah, just like that. My brother to us. They offered to get drinks, food, stories another time and he agreed and had said that the walking wouldn’t take and cigarettes, so we wouldn’t have to two days later, I picked Ricardo up after more than four hours, so I thought it leave the room for any reason.” “Any his shift. We went to a café to talk more women?” I asked with a cynical smile. about his life. Sonora, as he told me, and then I took a “That would’ve been nice, but we needed bus to Agua Prieta, Sonora where I was to save our energy for our journey.” “Ricardo, how did you decide to come supposed to meet el coyote. From there to the US?” “When I was in Mexico, I he would take me to Phoenix, AZ. “How long did you stay in the hotel had heard that the US is a country full of before you crossed the border?” “Just for opportunities and working hard I could “I was doing as my brother and I one night. The next morning, los coyotes save a lot of money. I was also curious had planned when a guy at the bus about how it would be to live in another station approached me saying: “Guero, morning.” “Orale muchachos, parence place away from home, plus people were guero, tu eres el que viene de la capital que se nos hace tarde.” “They were always talking about how much money verdad?” Ricardo spoke with a heavy rushing with so much excitement as if could be made. I was twenty-eight years Mexican northern accent. “You are the we were going out for a party.” old at the time, and I felt that I needed one that is coming from the city, right? to start saving money, which I could not Good, we have been waiting for you. “Were you afraid?” I said. “I’m not do in Mexico. My brother and friends Come this way; we are going to take you going to lie to you, I was. After we left were already in the US and they were to your hotel,” he said. “Which hotel?” the hotel, we got into a truck where they inviting me to come all the time.” My brother had never said anything took us to a very small village in the about staying in a hotel. Without a middle of nowhere. At this place was our I was wondering if he came legally or chance to say a word, these guys were last stop. They fed us some huevos con like many other Mexicans, so I popped taking my bags, and walking towards salchicha. I will never forget the taste of the question. “How did you come to the the hotel across from the bus station. the scrambled eggs and sausage. Then United States?” “Ha! It was not easy! “Wait, wait, wait. Who are you?” I said we all got a bag with a couple cans of First I tried to do it the right way by to the guys as I gripped my bags.” “We beans, tuna, mango juice and a gallon getting a tourist visa, but of course, it came to pick you up,” they answered. of water. The guides got theirs too, but was denied, so my next option was to theirs was a little bit different. They come as all my friends; running across Claudia” I said, immediately pulling my got two bottles of tequila and a kilo of the border!” cell phone out of my pocket.” cocaine!” “For just four hours, this is a lot of food! I thought.” “What do you “You don’t trust us. Here, use mine; mean just four hours?” I said “Yes, my you don’t have to waste your minutes. brother had said that the walking after second and shaking his head he said, You are going to need them later.” And the last stop wouldn’t take more than “yes, but I had in my mind that I would he started dialing a number from his four hours.” “That’s right, you already do whatever it took to come to the cell phone. “La senora Claudia right?” told me this,” I said. United States.” “Yes,” I answered without even realizing that I answered a question, information “After eight hours of walking, I started “How did you cross the border?” that he didn’t have. “Claudia, here is talking to the other guys in the group “My brother made a couple of calls to the guy from Mexico City that wants about how long they had been told that our family in New Mexico, and they to talk to you,” he said with a very the walking was going to take and we provided him with the information to convincing voice. “Hello, senora, this all had been told different things, so we contact “ un coyote.” Coyote is a nick is Ricardo, Raul’s brother,” I told her. started asking questions to the coyotes.” name for the person who helps smuggle “Ok. Ricardo right? Go with them and “Hey, how much longer do we have to Mexicans across the border. “He called we’ll talk later,” she replied to me. I felt walk?” he asked one of the guides. “Just me back with the name and phone a slight tone of hesitation in her voice. keep walking. We’ll let you know when number of el coyote and told me to take “I went with those guys, even though I we are close,” the guide answered him, a plane to Hermosillo, Sonora. From had my doubts about them. They took not very friendly. The walk seemed there, I had to take a bus to another small endless, so the group dared to ask again. 26 ESOL VOICES “Are we almost there?” Immediately he I stopped for a moment, and the group me vale madre, yo me voy a parar, no saw one of the coyotes stop drinking kept walking without me. I did not take me importa.” How bad he wanted to from his bottle of tequila, turn around long. I got back on my way as soon as stand up and he could care less about and say in a very mean way: “Listen I could. It was really dark and I could any consequences. Immediately, one of to me hijos de la chingada. We are not not see anything. I needed to catch up the coyotes said: “If you stand up, I will even half way there, so you better shut with the group, so I started running. I leave you right here, so the migra can up and keep walking. Let me make this was keeping a pretty fast pace when all send you back to Mexico.” “I was trying clear if you haven’t noticed. All of you of a sudden I felt a whipping pain across to comfort the guy by sharing his pain were kidnapped at the bus station. I paid my face, chest, and legs. I had run into and reminding him of how much we had one hundred dollars per head and when a wire fence. I did not see that damn been through and a couple more hours we get to Phoenix, I am expecting to get thing. I stood up as fast as I could and I were worth it.” one thousand dollars back from each of jumped over it this time. When I caught you. That’s the deal, so you better keep up with the group, they were entering a “How long was the ride in the trucks?” walking or you’ll never see gringo land.” huge drainage pipe. They were walking Ricardo repeated the guide’s words with very softly because apparently there was it to Phoenix by seven in the morning.” pain in his face. la migra or “a border patrol” if you want “Who picked you up?” “My brother to call it like that, right on top of the was already in Arizona waiting for me. “I wanted to kill that guy, I swear. The tunnel. My heart was beating so hard One of the smugglers called him on his only thing in my mind was revenge. I that I was afraid that the border patrol cell phone and said, “mire jefe, aqui le needed to be smart and continue with would hear it. El coyote immediately tengo a su pariente, trigame el dinero y them to the end. Let me explain it better pulled out his Nextel and started making yo se lo entrego.” My brother had the to you. We started walking on Thursday a call to some body.” one thousand dollars as el coyote had requested and I was free to go. a break until Friday at nine, for two “Ok. Chamacos don’t panic. This hours. Then we kept walking for another guy should be leaving in about seven “It has been two years since then, and couple hours until we started to say that minutes. After he is gone, on my count it seems as if it was yesterday” “Are you we needed to get some sleep in order to you start running as fast as you can to happy to be here?” “What! Of course keep going.” the other side of the hill. There, there I’m happy! I’m pursuing my dream, are a couple trucks waiting for us to I’m working hard and saving money, so “Around 3 pm the sun was drilling take us to our last place.” It was easy when the time to go back to Mexico has for him to say. He was high on cocaine come, I will have enough money saved a spot to stop and get some rest. Finally, and I bet feeling like Superman, but and I will open a business and be my we found some bushes on the bank of some of the guys from the group were own boss.” a dry river that provided enough shade. barely walking because of the blisters I thanked God for the shelter and I lay on their feet and one of the guys had Rene Albarran is from Mexico. He is twisted his ankle,” he said reliving the studying International Business. that was more comfortable than the bed events. “It was not easy, but we ran as that I have right now. Six hours later, I fast as we could, making it to the trucks woke up and when I opened my eyes, I in record time. I thought, we were going * * * * * couldn’t believe how many stars were to get some rest, but I was wrong. Once in the sky that night. It made me think we got in the trucks, we were folded in about how great God is. We started our half, and then in another half as if we journey again. Los coyotes loaded up their noses with cocaine and washed it in the trucks in such way that from the down with some more tequila.” outside the trucks nobody would see us. That trip was painful; I don’t know “Finally, after forty-eight hours of what was worst, walking for 53 hours walking, we saw the glow of the city. or not feeling my legs for two hours. This gave us hope and strength to keep We all were in such a position that one walking. Everybody was excited and of the guys was saying “hay, hay, hijo so much excitement made me want to de la chingada ya no siento mis piernas, go into the bushes to do my business.
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