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Coming to the U.S. from an Arab country

Coming to the U.S. from an Arab country, most of my classmates assumed that I did not comprehend English nor could I speak it. I could not quite communicate English correctly, but I definitely understood it. I understood most of my classmates' questions and conversations except when they talked extremely fast or used slang terms in their sentences. However, I did not know how to accurately respond back and I could not find the appropriate words to use. I definitely understood their remarks about my lack of English even if they thought I did not. Furthermore, I greatly struggled during my first year due to the huge language barrier because not only did it affect my education, but my social life as well. High school freshmen are not usually interested in newcomers, especially when they do not fit in their standards and are from a completely different cultural background. However, it all changed when I met Daisy.

I met Daisy in my math class and we instantly bonded together. Daisy is probably the most optimistic and lighthearted girl I have ever met. She is truly patient and is more than content to help others. Though what I mostly adored about her is that she never judges others based on the manner in which they speak or the way they dress and is rather respectful of everyone. As the days went by, she became my ultimate resource and guide as she helped me properly speak English that I once thought to be impossible. For example, she would help me finish my sentences, or give me hints about certain words that are missing in my phrases. 

At first, I would listen to Daisy's conversations that she has with other classmates and I would pick up lines and words that are unknown to me to ask her what they mean. When I get confused or lost, Daisy would briefly explain to me so that I am informed such as when I did not know what thanksgiving break is intended for or why is everyone talking about "13 reasons why". I gradually learned what certain vocabulary meant as I heard them being applied in multiple conversations. When I felt confident about a topic being discussed, I would join in the conversation and add my insights on it. Daisy taught me English words that were entirely new to me. She taught me words that I often heard but never clearly understood such as differentiating between words such as “choir” and “chore” or “colonel” and “colony”. She also taught me the meaning of texts such as “LOL” and “ASAP” that are frequently used by many. 

When at first seemed that being able to speak English is the only necessity, I had to acquire, I soon realized that learning English is not enough to sustain a strong friendship with others if I did not understand their culture. I had to know their slang terms, their popular T.V. shows that they constantly talk about. I had to accept their sense of humor and their vastly different opinions. I had to adjust to their lifestyles and celebrate their holidays that are utterly different from mine in order for them to see me as somewhat similar to them. It was mostly because of Daisy that I felt self-assured about my English because I had someone that would not judge due to my accent, instead, she would thoughtfully correct my errors. She helped me fit in when I felt like an outsider to everyone else.

(Texas Music Extravaganza) * * *


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