Introduction into an American School

Some  kids are lucky to have one or both parents take them to their first day of school.  In my case, it was my preacher, Brother Dale.  He was the one who took us to school.  I was seven years old when I started school in America.  I was put into Mrs. Bizzell’s second grade class.  There were no other Asian much less khon Lao in my class so I did not have anybody to interact with or ask questions. While the rest of the students were doing their regular classwork, I struggled to learn my basics…ABC and 123.  I couldn’t read, write or speak English so it was a challenge to complete the class assignments. It felt like I was deaf, dumb, and blind because I felt so lost.  What made it worse was the fact that I had to discover a way to over the language barrier so I could communicate with my teacher and classmates. I came to rely heavily on my ability to remember and mimic the other kids in class. Inadvertenly,I became an expert observer and imitator. 

Mrs. Bizzel and I eventually discover how we can communicate to each other by using hand motions and strong facial expression.  Looking back now it was like paying charade.  We were both trying to “guess” what the other person was saying with their hands, body language and dramatic gestures.  If we were students in a clown school, I’m pretty sure we would have been the head of the class! 

Learning the English language was my top concern because for me personally, I wanted to know what other people were saying to each other or to me.  There were times when the kids would point and laugh when they would glance my way and I would feel so frustrated because I didn’t know what they were saying. 

Everyday, my brothers and sister and I would be taken out of our class to a resource class where Mrs. Lennon and Mrs. Brown would help us learn English.  They were instrumental in us grasping the language faster which was not easy because we had to learn to use different parts of our mouth to speak.  The most important thing was, we had the determination to overcome our language barrier.



5 thoughts on “Introduction into an American School

  1. amphone

    Nice memory. Let me share mine a little. I started middle school when I got to America. It was already at the end of the school year. Then I moved up to 8th grade. Somehow I passed and went on to high school. It was Mrs. Lalance who took a few of us Laotians into the ESL programs instead of regular English class. Mrs. Lalance did more on her own time. She led us to her home for a picnic where all boys and girls can play valleyball, BBQ, etc. She took me and her sons ice skating. All the Laotians boys were like her kids. When more Laotians boys show up and when we were split up to a different high school, we were playing in different soccer team, we boys went against each others. Mrs. Lalance came out to support both teams. She cried again we went at each others. The two hight school were rivals when it comes to sport competition. The game was rough. I moved from Tennessee before I graduate from HS. I visit her once a few years later. Since, then I lost contact. I hope she is still alive. I want to see her so I can thank her for all she have done for us. She showed us the American beauty.

  2. Laotian Teacher

    Amphone, hello! Last week was teacher appreciation week so I’m happy that you remembered one of your teachers! Your story is an example of why I went into teaching! I wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people just like your teacher had. I call my students my kids because that’s how I see them. 🙂

    I’m sure Mrs. Lalance realizes that she helped you guys.

  3. Gaetano Porcasi is a Sicilian artist and school art teacher. His paintings are considered unique not only for their social and political commitment but also for the technique and choice of typical Mediterranean colours from which a strong and deep Sicilitudine (Sicilian mood) emerges. The 2003 itinerant exhibition Portella della Ginestra Massacre is a good example: in 1947 a group of Sicilian farmers was shot and killed in Portella by the outlaw Salvatore Giuliano and his men under orders from the local Mafia mobsters and big landowners in order to stop the farmers’ attempts to occupy and plant uncultivated local land. His historical paintings which denounce the violence and oppression of the Mafia find their counterpart in his paintings which depict sunny Sicilian landscapes rich in lemon, orange and olive trees, in prickly pear, agave and broom plants. They show the wealth of a land that has been kissed by God but downtrodden by man. In painting the sky of his native Sicily Gaetano uses several different hues of blue and it’s from this sky that his pictorial journey starts. In his paintings the history of Sicily, which has always been marked by its farmers’ sweat and blood and by their struggles for freedom and democracy, finds its pictorial expression in the fusion of the red flags of the workers with the Italian flag in a sort of Italian and Mediterranean epopea. The red flags and the Italian flag stand out against the blue sky that changes its hues according to the events, the seasons, the deeds and the moods that are painted on the canvas. The luxuriant nature of Sicily with its beautiful, sunny, Mediterranean landscapes seems to remain the silent, unchangeable and unchanged witness to events and the passing of time. Here people are only accidenti, they aren’t makers of their own life. Thus Gaetano makes a clear-cut metaphysical distinction between a benign, merciful nature and Man who breaks the natural harmony to satisfy his wild, unbridled ambition and selfishness and who becomes the perpetrator of violence and crime. Gaetano is also an active environmentalist and his fight against all forms of pollution has already cost him a lot of aggravation.

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