I REMEMBER my first day in America. My family and I didn’t speak a word of English. When we had to fill out forms or applications, my mother had to ask people to help her. I didn’t really like that because I didn’t want to see her having to ask other people for help.

Luckily, I got into a bilingual class and learned to read and write English. My mother is very proud of me because I am able to help her now.

The first time I was in an American school, I couldn’t communicate with my classmates at all. Some of the students made fun of me. I had a very nice bilingual teacher and he knew that some of the students liked to tease me. He introduced me to an American student who became my friend. He helped me out if I had trouble with other students, and practiced speaking wih me so that I could improve my English.

Learning English has been important to me because it has helped me become part of the culture of my adopted country, America. I can now communicate with the outside world, not just my own Vietnamese community.

Le Thanh Co was a senior at Benjamin N; Cardozo High School

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