A Student of English

Updated: Feb 12, 2019

A middle-aged woman with bright eyes and a warm smile greeted all of us; she introduced us to the volunteers who were high school students, teachers, and middle-aged adults in the room. What caught my attention the most was the Mexican speaker who addressed us. His dark long hair and symmetric face gave me a vibe that he was quite intelligent. In a very passionate and gentle song-like voice, he told us about how Mexicans and South Americans left home to a foreign country, not knowing the language and the culture. Why did they leave? He asked us, “How can you live making 2.15 dollars an hour?”


He told us that most Mexicans and South Americans come to America come, not to replace people in the workforce, but to live; he told us how people would avoid him when he walked into gas stations, thinking he was a drug dealer or a troublemaker; and he told us, “We are human beings you know? We feel, we hurt, and we understand just like you.” I felt those words trembling in my heart, because I remember I felt that way and perhaps, I still feel that way. He thanks us for volunteering; not knowing the English language in America is like being a blind man without Braille books.





Though I never learned any true English from my ESL class in that isolated portable, I did learn English by listening, reading, and interacting with kids in the playground. For me, language has never been a barrier between cultures and people. It is prejudice, fear, and injustice that are the barricade. Yes, we are all human beings. We all have pain and struggles in life. If we can transcend beyond the barriers that separate us from each other, we have reach the summit of human relationship. I hope I may exchange stories with my new friends and put those stories in the pocket of my mind, so that I may carry it on my journey through life.

© 2020 by Thuy Rocco