This I Believe

Manuel - Los Alamos, California
Entered on July 3, 2007

English, Not a Barrier

Coming to another country was a real challenge to me. When my dad told me “Mijo nos vamos a California” (Son, we are going to California) I was afraid. I knew that leaving Guadalajara, Mexico for another country would mean leaving my friends, my house, and my family. I had to start from the beginning. The hardest obstacle for me when I came to California was having to learn another language. None of my family members knew the language, so every time we needed to get anything from the store we had to ask for help. We were dependent on other people because of what my father used to call “the English barrier.”

I still remember my first day at school; that day I did not eat anything because I did not know how to ask for food. After school, I felt very bad because I was not able to express my needs. The next day I was the first one to get to the cafeteria, but the last one to get lunch. I got there early, because I wanted to learn how the other students asked for their meals. I got a burrito because it sounded familiar to me. After two weeks, I got tired of eating burritos so I started getting hamburgers. I continued to learn English and I graduated from high school two years later.

After graduating I realized that I wanted to do more with my life, so I decided to continue my education and enrolled at Allan Hancock College. I always liked math and computers, so I majored in Computer Engineering. I knew that it was not going to be easy, but—as my Chemistry teacher, Mr. O’Neill, says—“That’s life.” I spent the first two years at AHC taking English classes. Those two years were the most important years of my academic career. During those years I found that I was not the only one who had to learn a new language because of the diversity in AHC. My first math class was Algebra 1. I have completed English 101 and Calculus 4.

I believed that English was an obstacle for me, but not a barrier I was unable to overcome. Life is not easy, and it is necessary to work hard. I have learned that if I want a better life in the future, I have to work hard and never give up, whatever obstacles life has for me. My ultimate goal is to get a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering and to work for a well-respected prestigious company. I also hope that one day I will own a business.