This I Believe

Odessa - Des Plaines, Illinois
Entered on May 4, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

Words usage

I believe that I can use the negative words directed to me to improve myself. I did not always believe that. Words can hurt but I did not know that I could use them for motivation. When I was 12 years old, I emigrated from the Philippines to United States. I could not begin to relate this new culture to my own. For example, here in US there is not a huge emphasis on respect during reference to adults. However, for Filipinos adults are always referred to with respect. Also, growing up I only knew Tagalog as my form of expression not English. The situation got worse when I started school here. I met a particular girl who was popular among the seventh graders. She always wore the nicest clothes and shoes. Even though we had to wear uniform four days a week, on Fridays she always looked her best. She was the girl everyone wanted to befriend. I was the foreign “weird” girl everyone avoided.

I had trouble learning and pronouncing English words. Everyone noticed. One day during Social studies class, that “one particular girl” declared that I was not going to get anywhere since I could not even speak English. At that moment, I did not feel the effects of her words. I realized, however, that I could not even put together a full English sentence when my mom and I went to the grocery store. I could not communicate. I thought to myself, then, how would I be able to survive this new environment. I wanted to change that.

Her words seemed to shake me into awakening. I was hesitant to learn English because I felt that I was discarding my culture. But after than incident, I had the urge to learn English so that I could show her I will be someone. The process was long and definitely complicated. I always found myself struggling with the different accent and syllable stress. Even more, I had to rationalize through the different pronunciations and definitions of the same word. Like produce (v. pruh-doos, -dyoos) and produce (n. prod-oos, -yoos)

Looking back, I had two choices to make, take her words either as they are or cry about it to my mom. I did both. I turned to my mom for comfort. And I allowed her words to motivate me and even forced me to learn English. That incident seems insignificant, now. But it was that same event that catalyzed my need and want to learn English. I learned that I cannot let someone’s opinion and comments affect me negatively. In fact, I must and I will use them to my advantage.