Family—Voices of Adult Learners

My Life and Family by Khalida G. Duad

Charlottesville Adult Education ESL

I was born in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan. The place that I lived in was 30 minutes away from the city. My family and I were happy together. My relatives and I all lived together and had lots of fun.

When I was six years old, I went to school. The school was 20 minutes away from home if I walked. I was very happy to go to school. I loved to go to school and study.

In my country, the students are off from school for the three months of winter. One of the winter days I remember very well is when I was 11 years old. There was snow everywhere. It snowed 80 cm, and all my friends and I played in the snow. The cars were barely able to drive.

On one of those winter nights, my nine-year-old brother got very sick. His condition was bad to the point where we had to take him to the hospital. Since there was a lot of snow, it was really hard to drive. My dad was really afraid of losing my brother. He had no choice but to sit on the bike and take my brother to the hospital using a bike. My brother had to stay in the hospital for three days. After that, he was allowed to go back home.

After what happened, my father made the decision to live closer to the city. After we moved to the city, the Russians attacked my country. During that time, I finished school and college and wanted to continue my education, but I couldn’t because of the war with Russia. Then when the Russians left our country, we had a war between the states. During the war, they closed all the schools. From among our relatives and friends, we lost 25 people. One of those people was my 20-year-old brother. After him, my mother passed away. Since those things happened, I had no choice but to leave Afghanistan. I went to Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and then Moscow, Russia.

There, everything was different. The reason why was because it was a different language, and the weather was cold. I lived in Russia for 11 years. After that, we came here to the US. in 2008. After 15 years, I decided to go back to Afghanistan and visit my family. That was one of the best memories of my life.

My Family by Kaili M. Tamang

Charlottesville Adult Education ESL

My family is 5 people: my husband, me, and three sons. Two sons go to school. One son goes to work. Everybody watches TV together, for half-hour. Sometimes, on weekend, we are not together: one son and a husband working.

The Lesson of Appreciation by Ivy (Qin) Zheng

Charlottesville Adult Education ESL

In China, most people have old cultural values. They prefer boys to girls. I also used to think boys were better than girls.

I am an adopted girl. My adoptive mother told me about my past when I was ten years old. I was so surprised. I had two families and two mothers, two fathers. “Why doesn’t my real family like me?” I asked.

My adoptive mother said, “You have six older sisters. One of the sisters was exchanged for a boy, who was adopted like you. They very much wanted a boy for themselves, but they got one more girl, who was you. The family couldn’t afford all the kids. They had to decide to exchange one of their daughters for somebody else. I really wanted a girl,k so I adopted you.

I believed my birth mother didn’t like me because I was a girl. I hated them — my birth parents. One time, I saw my real mother across the way. She was looking at me and talking to the person next to her, but she didn’t come over to talk to me. From her eyes, I knew what she was talking about, and I knew she wanted me to say “Mom” to her one time. But I could not because I was still angry. I turned my back on her and walked away. After that day, I never heard anything more about her until one day when I was 16 years old, I learned that she had died.

But I am a lucky girl, too. My adoptive family has three brothers. They gave me a happy and good life. My brothers treat me very well. I like to be affectionate to my mom and my dad — sometimes I show love to just my mom and sometimes I show love to just my dad. They never get jealous. Thank you, Mom and Dad, and three brothers.

Now, I am a mother. I have one girl, two and a half years old, and one (another girl) on the way. I know how tiring it is to take care of the kids and how much I worry about the kids. It is not easy to be a mother.

These days, I feel no more hatred for my real family any more. If I were not adopted, maybe I would already have died from hunger, or maybe I would have gotten sick and there would have been no money to see a doctor, or maybe…, so many maybes come to my mind. I can’t stop thinking about that.

Mom, I know how hard it was for you to decide what was best. I do not hate you any more — just the opposite. I appreciate you. One family gave me life, one family gave me life experience. Thank you for everything.

I appreciate all of you.

The Importance of Family by Younis Suleiman

Charlottesville Adult Ed ESL

Family is the most important unit in our society, and it means a lot to me. Mother also is the most beautiful creature on earth to me. The last meeting I had with my mom was in 2009 when I was twenty years old. I haven’t seen her since that time. Mother to me means life, hope, and infinite love.

I have learned a lot from her and carry these teachings with me today, and they have helped me move forward and improve my attitude in life. I have not seen my family since I left my homeland in 2009. Death is a truth and will lead to a second life, and everyone will face it, but all I wish is to come back to my homeland and see my family and my dear mother before I lose her as I lost my father. He died when I was in exile. I hope my homeland, Alahwaz, will gain its independence and freedom to be an independent country, and we won’t live as expatriates in other countries because of our sacrifice for the homeland.

Freedom and peace for all!

Family Values by Amber Roberts

Plugged In VA

Everyone loves their family, but who could honestly own up to having a favorite family member? I can! I come from a family where women outnumber the men by far, but there is one special woman that I’ve always adored. She cared for me as a toddler, helped guide me as a teenager, and admires the woman I have become. She is my mom.

Growing up, my life wasn’t always the easiest. I didn’t always get every toy I wanted but not getting those things was well compensated for with something a lot of parents don’t have with their children these days: a bond. Every day there was something new to do. In the summer my mom and I spent a lot of time swimming, going to parks, catching bugs, and exploring. In the winter we spent time making hot chocolate and snowmen. Our snowmen would have gloves, hats, and carrot noses. My transition to a teenager went fast but those small things meant the world to me.

As a teenager, I struggled in school. My mom encouraged me to go every day. I didn’t like getting up in the mornings, and I didn’t like the school setting at all. Big crowds and small classrooms have always bothered me. By the 11th grade, I was no longer able to attend school all day, but my mom helped with that as well. I got put on a modified schedule, and she agreed to take me to school and pick me up at noon every day. That helped a lot, but by my senior year I was falling behind. I was told I would have to repeat my senior year, so once again my mom helped me choose an alternative route and find a solution. I chose to get my GED and she supported me fully. In 2012 I got my GED and started transitioning into adult life.

I started my job search and got a job very shortly after. My mom was very proud. She encouraged me to go to work and helped talk me through the bad days. Although I decided that job wasn’t right for me, she still supported my decisions. Now I am almost 21 and can honestly say I don’t know what I would have done without her. She is my favorite family member.

When it comes to favorite family members, I’m sure most people have one. Mothers are a great family member to have. After all, they are the people who care for you as a newborn and on into adult life. They help mold you into the person you are today. Thanks to all the moms out there, including mine.

A Little Girl by Lucien Dal Ri

Charlottesville Adult Ed ESL

There are many people and moments that marked my childhood in Brazil. I remember especially a little unprotected girl. Maybe she doesn’t know, but her simple presence taught me important things, and I still have her presence in my life.

I can still see her image in front of me, as if we were children today. Her name was Cleonice, and she was 7 or maybe 8 years old. In her face, it was possible to see she was quite indigenous, with her darker skin and brown eyes. She had short hair.

In Brazil, the indigenous people were and still are marginalized, but in this time I didn’t realize this. I( didn’t have contact with their reality. My world was not bigger than the yard of my parents’ house, and I was there when I saw Cleonice for the first time.

She stood in front of the gate and asked for my mother. She didn’t have a confident aspect. She seemed to be shy and afraid.

When my mother arrived at the gate, the little girl said she was poor and her parents didn’t have work. She said she was hungry and didn’t have anything to eat at home. She asked for some food or work to get some money.

My mother invited her to come in, gave her food, and said she could come every day to eat at our home. For months, I saw Cleonice every day at home, eating in the kitchen. I remember it like it was today how she was at the time, shy and happy to have things to eat.

She was a good girl, quiet and sweet, like other eight-year-old girls, but we never played together. It was strange like she was there but at the same time she wasn’t part of my reality. Maybe because of this, whenever I saw her I became quite paralyzed.

My mother told me Cleonice’s story, and I became worried. I have this feeling still now, and it is continuous in my life. I didn’t realize exactly, in that moment, why we had such different lives. Why weren’t we treated in the same way if we were both little girls? Why weren’t her parents taking care of her? Why did she have to take care of herself if she was so little? Why was she unprotected?

Care and protection, these are the words!

Her fragility was not from poverty! The way she was afraid, her short hair, the hunger, sometimes she was dirty. All these things were so different from my reality. In this time, I realized how I had, just like a gift, the important things in my life. I didn’t do anything to have that. I wasn’t different from Cleonice. I could be her. I was just born in a family that took care of and protected me.

One day, Cleonice didn’t come to our home, and I asked my parents about her. My mother told me that Cleonice’s family moved to another city. Never more have I had news about her, but she is in my life. When I think about her, I want to hug her. I know to hug someone is not enough, but it’s a way to express how I would like to take care of protect that little girl.

A Small Part of My Life by Saida Rivera

Charlottesville Adult Education ESL

This is my story. I’m from El Salvador.

In 2005, I made the decision to come to the United States of America in search of better opportunities. One of my priorities is to help my parents and somehow give them a better life and somehow reward them for all they have done for me in giving me my studies and everything they could for me to be happy. My mom is my pride. She is a person with a big heart. She is my pride. She is my role model because she is a great woman: she is my best friend and my mother at the same time.

When I got here, I realized that life is very different from how one imagines. A year after I came, my mom realized she had cancer. It was very shocking news for me. I wanted to return to El Salvador and to be near her since doctors did not give her any hope of life. A cousin decided to take her to another doctor to give her a second opinion, and the other doctor said she had treated many people by having them undergo chemotherapy, so she decided to give it a try. She knew it was a difficult struggle, but she trusted in God and took the challenge. She overcame cancer. My mother clung to life, faith, and love, and managed to defeat this disease. I am very grateful to God for this opportunity of life that has been given to my mom.

My family, after God, is the most important thing. I know I am not perfect and make mistakes, but I try to give my family the best of me. So far, it’s been nine years, and my mom is thankfully well, smiling at life, and waiting to see me and hug me.

Jessica’s Heaven by Jessica Barbour

Scottsville GED

I want to share a very special day which was a stepping stone for my famiy and me. It was a gorgeous day in June. This was a day my fiancé, Eric, my three precious angels, and myself were coming together as one. It was my wedding day. We had been together for 12 years and had always planned for this day, but never followed through. This was the day that my family and I found out what family really means.

The day was very hectic to start with because I was overwhelmed with all the things I had to do before the wedding. This is where all of our families stepped in. My sister-in-law was there to help with the kids and the rest of our family tended to me and Eric’s every need. Our family being there for us showed a great deal about what family means. All of our family was there to share in our day of glory.

Oh, we had so much fun. We said our vows while my oldest daughter sung the song that she wrote for us, and we pronounced our marriage and started the celebration. We danced, we laughed, we even cried a little but those were tears of joy. It was one of the best days of our families’ lives and something we will never forget. It showed me that spending even the smallest bigt of time together means so much. Parents that show their kids togetherness, love and support teach them what family should be about.

My wedding was special because it consisted of family. My oldest, who was 11 at the time, was my matron of honor. She wrote a song from her own words to sing for Eric and me. The name of the song is “You Are My Love.” When she sang the song, everybody was breathless, including myself and my fiancé. Some of the words that she sung made us realize what love means, for example, “youare my love, you are my love and I will never give you up. I know there will be trouble, but we still have each other. This is our day: this is our time to say you are my love.” Those words will never leave me. She said everythinga bout what family means to me in one song.

My second born was my bridesmaid, and she lit the candles of unity for us. There are three candles, two small and one large. The big candle is the unity candle which is lit by the biride and groom at the same time to show that they are united as one. My three year old daughter was my flower girl. Although during the rehearsal, she threw the flowers as planned, but on our wedding day she got bashful and needed help from a friend.

My father-in-law is a special man, and I chose him to walk me down the aisle. When I asked him would he give me away to his son, he said, “Sure, I will give you away, but not to my son” and he started laughing. He then said, “It would be my honor.” I know what everyone is thinking, he is not your dad, but I’ve never known my father. The person that really made this day come together was my mother-in-law. She was the guidance, support, the organizer of it all. I will always love her for giving us that special day.

My wedding was a very special day for me and our family. I would like to thank the most important person, God, who made this day possible. What would life be without family support and love?

The Greatest Family by Oneshia Woodson

Charlottesville Adult Education GED

Most things I cherish about my family are we laugh, talk, and remember the past. At Christmas, all my family comes and gathers at my house and eats dinner together. We laugh, joke around, and chit chat together. We also do this on Thanksgiving. During the sujmer time, we have cookouts and family and friends hang out. They also enjoy themselves, especially the kids. The types of food we have at the cookout are hamburgers, hot dogs, barbecue chicken, fried chicken, brown beans, macaroni salad, pasta salad, chicken salad, chips, dip, and popsicles. You name it, we cook it. We always have one or two people cook at the grill so the food gets done faster. Also, in the summertime, we have big family reunions. Everybody gathers together to emeet each other. We cok lots of food so everybody can enjoy themselves.

A “Thank You” Is Enough by Mary Jasper

Charlottesville Adult Education

One summer day, my four kis and I were on the way to Louisa to cash my paycheck. As I was driving, I spotted a white pocketbook in the road. I stopped my car and opened the door. I told my kids. I’m not going to call the police department because they will ask so many questions.”

I looked in the pocketbook. There was a credit card, money, and loose change. The woman’s telephone number was in her checkbook, so I called her and told her I found her pocketbook in the road. I used 25 cents of her money to call her because I didn’t have any money on me, only my paycheck. She said, “Oh, thank you. I’ll be there in five minutes.” She offered me all the money she had in her pocketbook, but I told her no because I was on my way to Louisa to cash my paycheck.

She said, “Let me buy your kids a soda pop.”

I replied, “No, thank you.”

She said, “What can I offer you?”

I told her, “Nothing.”

She replied, “Thank you so much.” She told me that I was one out of a hundred who was very honest.

This turned out to be quite a coincidence, because I later learned that the woman’s daughter and I had been good friends in school.

For my children, it was a good lesson in doing the right thing.

The History of My Family by Adrian Perez

When I was little my family and I had a harde life. I call it a hard life because I had nine brothers and sisters. My first older brothers had to walk 5 miles to go to the high school because my father didn’t have enough money for a car or the bus. Sometimes it was too cold, and sometimes very rainy. My other brothers and I only walked one half mile to their school.

I was seven years old and my mom didn’t have enough money to buy food for me and my brothers, so I started to look for a job in the evenings. I continued to go to school, and after school I went to my job for four hours a day. First I helped my father to paint or fix cars, and then I got a job milking cows. It didn’t pay enough money, but it was something to help the family.

Eventually, my father didn’t fix cars or paint them anymore, because people didn’t have enough money to pay him. Now I had to get a second job milking cows, first from 1 til 3:30 and then 5 to 7:30 at the second farm. When school ended, I had to run a mile to the first job, and in between jobs, I walked home for my dinner. Sometimes I felt so happy getting more money for my family, but sometimes I felt really, really tired.
When I finished with school, I started high school, and after I gto my diploma, my brother-in-law called from the United States and asked if I wanted to come with my sister. In the USA I went to Minnesota and started work there. I lived with my sister and her family.

After I came to the US, my brothers wanted to come with me. First my older brother came and started work. We both worked to make money to send home and also to save so we could bring our other brothers to the US.

Big Man by Giancarlo Gitisleni

Charlottesville Adult Ed ESL

Today I am 32 years old. I was born in a little city caled Coronel Barros in south Brazil. My family was poor, so it was necessary for my eighteen year old mother to work to support our family. I stayed with grandparents for about four years. I don’t remember those times, but it is incredible how I feel those moments.

Because of our poverty, we couldn’t buy milk, so my grandmother carried me in her arms to the neighboring city of Santo Angelo to ask the government for milk. When I was 4 years old I went to live with my mother in Santo Angelo, but I spent my vacations with my grandparents. When my school finished, I ran to my grandparents arms.

Always !!

I remember rich moments on my grandparents laps when they would give me chimarrão to drink with them. Chimarr&atildeo is a kind of herb tea drunk from a calabash cup with a straw.

When I was twenty, I realized how strong my connection with my grandparents was. My grandmother used to say, “My son! You need to study. You will be a big man! That to win little. This will be your life!”

For my grandmother, to be a big man was to be an honest working man, but without great perspectives. Those words earned very well for me, the first person in my family to graduate.

Today, after I studied according to the advices by my grandmother and in the meantime lost her, my life has been governed by her words. After my grandmother passed away, my grandfather and I grew even closer. Many pleasant moments were spent drinking chimarrão together.

Today when my wife and I sit together drinking chimarrão I am feeling the same deep affection as when I shared tea with my grandparents.

I don’t know if I am a “bigt man.” I just studied. I really grew up in the financial aspect. I am married. I have my wonderful family always, having as a parameter the family of my grandparents.

I am happy today, but I really miss the words and voice that fed my soul when I, a boy, drank chimarrão in her lap imagining what would be a “big man.”

Lovely Time by Mao Takazoe

Charlottesville Adult Education ESL

I have learned to value spending time with my family here in Charlottesville. My husband, three children (five-year-old twins and a three-year-old) and I sometimes did not have this time to share before coming here from Tokyo, Japan six months ago.

My husband is a lawyer and has been with a Japanese law firm since 2006. He came here to study U.S. law and English. When we lived in Japan, he was very busy. My kids and I often could not eat dinner with him and did not spend a lot of time with him. I was very lonely and had to take care of my kids by myself.

After we came to the U.S. m husband finally had time to spend with his family, and we are very happy about that! We have breakfast each morning and dinner together every night. We now play with our kids on the playground on Saturdays and Sundays. My kids and I are very happy to be able to spend this time with him.

This life, however, will be finished in about six months, because my husband has taken a job that will start this summer. He will be back in the busy life. I think that he also finds it very hard to think about readjusting himself to this busy life after this past year.

I have learned that this life here in Charlottesville will become part of our good memories!

Little People in Furry Coats by Cassie Wilmoth

Scottsville GED

When it comes to family, most people think of a mom, dad, brother, si8ster, grandmother and grandfather. In this story, this family member will love you matter what. You can have the worst day at work, and they will be right there for you. They know when you are sad, sick, and brokenhearted. All they want is love and they give this love back unconditionally. These are little people in furry coats, and they are our pets. I always say a home is not a home without pets.

Growing up I can remember as a little country girl running around with a dog or cat. Oh the conversations we must have had and not a care in the world who was listening, but to me my dog knew what I was talking about.

It’s been said that our pets calm us down and lower our blood pressure. I know this to be true becauswe anytime I amstressed or just having a bad day my dog will come over and put his head in my lap as if to say, “It’s OK, I am here for you.”

They know when something is not quite right or you are feeling down, all they want is to love you and to be loved back. They are little people in furry coats who are unique because they are God’s creation.

My Family by Tek Pyakural

Charlottesville Adult Education ESL

My family is six brothers, one sister, one son and one daughter. My children go to Greenbriar school. My daughter is in the second grade, my son is in preschool. We want only two children, this is a good family. My brother Tika lives in my home. My daughter likes parties.

Part of the History of My Family by Juan Villegas

Charlottesville Adult Education ESL

Before I met my wife I lived in New York. Then I moved to Charlottesville. And Charlottesville is where we met and got married. Also I have a brother and a sister living in New York City, and a son living in North Carolina. He visits me and we talk on the phone.

I have two grandchildren, a girl and a boy. This means I am a grandfather.

Seiko the Survivor by Chika Marshall

Charlottesville Adult Education

My grandpa is a survivor of World War II. When I was little, my grandpa took care of me every day after school. Sometimes he told me stories about how he survived in the war. When the war became more intense in Okinawa, my grandpa was 19 years old. During that time, all young men in Okinawa had to join the military. The Japanese military didn’t let Okinawans use guns, because there were not enough. They gave him a sickle and a grenade. The grenade was only to commit suicide before the Americans could capture him.

When he hid in a cave with the Japanese military, they tried to make him commit suicide, because they thought there was no way to hide from the Americans any more. My grandpa got scared, so he escaped. But he was followed by one Japanese soldier who was sent to kill him. He escaped the soldier and climbed a tree. He spent a couple of days there, and that’s how he survived.

After the war he settled down and built his own house. Now he has 7 children, 17 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. Last year in July he had his 87th birthday and all of his family came to celebrate. An 87th birthday celebration in Okinawa is called “Beiju Oiwai,” which means happiness and longevity. We rented a big party room in a hotel, and danced on the stage, took pictures and gave him giftrs. He looked so happy to see all of his family and they were happy too.

I am so thankful for all of his effort, and that he never gave up. I think it is important to tell this story to people who don’t know what the war was like, and how blessed we are to live in this place and time.

This Is My Family by Badam Magar

Charlottesville Adult Education ESL

I have seven family members. I have a father-in-law and mother-in-law. I have a husband and three sons in my family. I love my family. I and my husband gotto the Learning Center to learn English. My sons go to school everyday. I like to read. Ok, thank you, see you soon.

My Family History by Hector Aguero

Charlottesville Adult Education ESL

My family is a big family. I have 14brothers and sisters: 9 brothers and 5 sisters. I have 4 brothers-in-law and 4 nephews and one niece. I’m happy here with my brothers but I miss so much my family in Costa Rica. I also have 4 nieces in Costa Rica. I love my nieces, and I miss them. I miss more my mother, she’s so special for me. My family is my life.

Love After Meeting by Lialuma Khair Khawa

Charlottesville Adult Education UVA ESL

I have a story about my family. I have always dreamed that my son, Aman, wouldlove a girl and want to marry her. But my son didn’t think about women. Two years ago Aman was not thinking about love. He was only involved with his classes in Piedmont College, his job, and his brother and sister.

But that was going to change. Last year I contacted the family of one lovely girl named Marsal I had seen in a wedding video I saw from my husband’s family. I told her father that I wanted her to marry my son. Thye father accepted. My son had told me that because he loves me, he would follow my wishes and marry her.

We went to Afghanistan last year on June 15th. My daughter also had a dream to go to our country and see our family. She has a lot of cousins and she missed them and she felt happy that she was with them. On the first night we were in my brother’s house and my son was not happpy. He was just sd. After that day all of the family went to Marsal’s house and her father said OK. Before her father said OK, Marsal and Aman were in separate rooms. My son went to the women’s room and saw her for the first time. When they met, she gave him her hand. Suddenly he changed. He laughed and laughed. He was so happy, and he said, “Thank you, Mom.”

After that day he was with her and he didn’t want to come back to the U.S. I made for them an engagement party in the big hotel. t500 people were there and enjoyed food and dancing. When we came back, my son started her legal paperwork for her to come to Charlottesville. I will be so happy when she comes here.

The Ugly Kings by Wendy Olivva

Charlottesville Adult Education ESL

Every year in my country, there is a festival called “The Ugly King” where men and women dress up in women’s dresses and masks so that no one knows who is a man and who is a woman. Why is it called t”The Ugly King” festival? Because the idea is that everybody gossips about everyone else and no one knows who you are.

In 2004, my last year in Honduras, some of the ugly kings on the stage asked into the microphone if anyone wanted to learn how to fall off a motorcycle? If so, they said, ask Marlon Oliva (my brother) for a lesson. Why? Because he had fallen off his motorcycle two weeks before the festival and had gotten badly scraped up! Everyone was laughing and my entire family was so embarrassed.

One Dream Just Isn’t Enough by Emelia Remigio

Charlottesville Adult Education ESL

Once upon a time there was a girl. She was very, very poor, but with many dreams. She was the oldest of her four sisters and one brother. Her name is Emelia.

She lived in the field in a town named San Miguel Xaltepec, Puebla State. Emilia imagined and dreamed that she would grow up and some day work and study at the same time. She worked in the field to help her family. She always said, “I want to grow up soon so I can go to Mexico City.” It was difficult for her to finish elementary school, but when she did finish, she said to her parents. “I am a child and I am worried, but I found a good solution. I have a plan to find work and help you, my sisters, my brother, and myself financially. I will go look for a job, and I will continue studying at high school, then at University, and so on.”

Her parents did not understand. After Emelia went to Mexico City and found work as a housekeeper, she continued studying and she could help her parents and siblings. She graduated junior high school and continued working and her studies in high school. She was a housekeeper, a child-care worker, seller, cleaner at the offices, receptionist, and administrative assistant. When she finished high school, she enrolled at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and began studying Geography. She was also workin in the Geographic Library. She taught Geography class, and was also a teaching assistant.

However, her parents ahd a great economic problem, and she decied to work in the United States to help her parents. She had a plan. She said “I will go to the United States to work and help you.” She also wanted to reach four more goals. Her plan was to own a grocery store, to build a house for her parents, to study the English language, and to save up money to get her masters and doctorate degree in Geography. Emelia is happy because she is working hard to reach her dreams.

Like Father, Like Son by Mahamad Asif

Charlottesville Adult Education ESL

My name is Mahamad Asif. I am from Afghanistan, which is in Asia My country is beautiful, and thirty million people live there of manhy different nationalities with many different languages. I can speak five languages and a little bit of English. People in our country are very poor. I was born in a farmer family. My father worked the land and was teh only person who supported our family. I am very thankful for my father, and have much respect for him.

After I graduated from high school, I worked as a teacher for 15 years. I taught languages, but then the government asked me to become a politician. I then became the district governor in Kabul Province for five years. I really enjoyed that job. When I became a governor, I wanted to help people. I was able to help the students and teachers in the schools, the marketplace, and the heatlh system in the province.

I have a big family in AFghanistan. I have four brothers and five sisters, and my children go to school ther. However, in 1992, our government collapsed. I had some political problems, so I left my country to go to Russia. I was there for 12 years, and while I was there I worked in the market to support my family who had remained in AFghanistan and had a poor life.

In 2011, I came to the United States to continue to find work to support my family. I have been here for three years, and I have been working to teach and prepare U.S. Army soldiers before they go to AFghanistan. In America, I live a better life, and I have freedom here.

Thank you.

Home for the Holidays by Corey Tyler

Charlottesville Adult Education UVA GED

I did a lot of things over winter break. I spent Christmas Eve with my friend who was in the hospital and spent time with my grandson. I also saw family in the country and visited my mother’s grave.

I had fun during the visit with my friend in the hospital. We laughed, ate from the cafeteria, and watched TV. My grandson was excited to see me. He said, “Papa,” and gave me a hug. We ate pizza.

Our family tradition is to have Christmas in the country. We exchanged gifts and watched the children. We watched sports on TV. It was fun. On New Ydears Dayu I went to visit my mother’s grfave.

All in all, I had a good holiday break because of my family and friends.

Redemption by Martin Luna, Jr.

Charlottesville Adult Education ESL

I was born in Torrance, California in 1973. I lived in San Diego, California with my parents, my sister, and my brother. He was born in 1975. My sister was born in 1977. I lived in San Diego for 6 years. My parents were from Zacatecas, Mexico.

In 1980 we went to Mexico for a summer vacation. We drove a van. We stayed ther for 4 weeks. When we came back, 3 uncles came with us. We had a bad car accident in the Rumorosa Mountains in Durango, Mexico. My dad, Mom, and sister died in the accident. My uncles, my brother and I survived. AFter that we had to go with my grandparents to Zacatecas, Mexico. My Dad’s dying words were to say he wanted us to go back with the parents of my mother.

My Dad was 30 years old, and my mom was 33 years old, and my sister was 3 years old when they died. My brother was 5 years and I was 6 years old. So we went back to Mexico, to live with my granparentsl I always needed my parents, and I have never understood why this happened to us. My brother and I never went to a psychologist. Nobody took us to the doctor. I don’t know why nobody thought we wouldn’t need psychological attention. We just grew up with that, and I know we had problems. I started drinking when I was 11 years old. I became alcoholic very quickly. And both my brother and I turned to drugs.

The US government sent us a check every two weeks to live. When I was 18 years old the Government sent me a lot of money. I spent al the money in one year, drinking alcohol, taking drugs, and all different things. After I spent my money, I came to the USA to work. I didn’t speak any English. I had a hard time straightening out all my legald ocuments because I only had my birth certificate from the USA. I went to Georgia and started work in construction. I never went to school. After work I was always drinking.

I married in 1998. I was a supervisor for the company I work for. I had a pretty good job and was making good money. But I lost everything because of my drinking problems. I lost my family, my job, my friends, and my driver’s license. Nobody trusted me anymore. One day God rescued me from the hell I was living.

Now I knew I had made a big mistake. I realized all the disaster I was doing. I started doing all things the right way. I quit drinking. I worked hard to have my family back. I managed to get my job back. And after I was clean one year, people started to trust me again, including my wife. Now I have my own small company. Now I want to learn English and how to use the computer.

I have a beautiful wife, and 5 beautiful kids: 2 girls and 3 boys. Now I have six years clean: no alcohol, no drugs. I am very happy with my beautiful family. I want to say thanks to my wife for another chance. I love her. And I want to say thanks to God for all He does for me, even when I don’t deserve it.

My Family Here and There by Lilian Guzman

Charlottesville Adult Education ESL

When I was growing up in my country El Savlador, C.A., there was war at the time.

I remember it was very hard because I didn’t have water. I had to go to the river to take a bath and to clean clothes.

Everything was hard. Sos I used an oil lamp or candle for light. We didn’t have an electric range for cooking, I used firewood. I didn’t have a ride to school. I had to walk two hours to attend my class. At that time I was just ten years old. Thank God, I did the best I could.

And now y family lives better because they have water in that house and an electric range and bus services. I am very glad because my family lives much better. It has been a long time since I have visited my country. But as soon as possible, I will get my document and I will go there.

I’m glad to have a caring and loving boss. She helps me every day. She encourages me to come to English classes and she speaks English with me. She is my angel. God bless this wonderful lady.

I Talk to My Brother After Seven Years by Nasreen Aswadi

Charlottesville Adult Education UVA ESL

My name is Nasreen Aswadi. I am from Afghanistan. I came to the USA 2001.

January, 2014, I am talking with my brother! After 17 years, I and my brother talk in Skype. With my brother, and my brother’s family, I talk…and cry — for more than one hour. I am happy to see my brother and his family. Three hours of talking on Skype is, for me, very interesting. I asked about his children and their health. I am talk with my niece in the Skype after 15 years. I am happpy to see my niece and her children. She was in Turkey, visiting her parents for one month after 15 years apart. She will go back to Afghanistan because she is a teacher and school will start in March in Afghanistan.

I am waiting for my young brother and my niece for 22 years—I am talking to them last week.

Family by Osman A. Mohamed

Charlottesville Adult Education UVA ESL

My name is Osman; my last name is Mohamed, from Africa, the country Somalia. My country had a problem, so I went with my mother to Kenya in 1992; I was 16 years old. There were three camps; Nairobi camp was too cold, Mombassa camp had good weather, and the other camp was so, so, too hot. But in all of the camps there was no work, no jobs.

I have almost never gone to school until now. I went to the First Class (in Somali language — there was English medium school, but it was more expensive and for the rich children…and me, not rich) then started the Second Class…but when I was eight years old my father died and there was no money to pay for me to continue school.

In 1905 my mother went back to Somalia; I didn’t go back with my mother. I stayed in Kenya, for about 10 years, as a refugee.

In 2004, I came from Nairobi to Virginia, via Belgium, England, and New York City; I arrived on October 29, 2004 after a ten-day flgith (many stopovers, waiting, because I.N.S. had many, many questions for me. My family were three people: myself, my wife Isha Mohamed Cite, and our daughter.

I got my first job with Aramark, on December 15, 2004. I was a dishwasher. Our daughter was extremely handicapped and because health care provision was not good in Virginia, and better in Ohio, we went to Ohio, in June 2006 — there our daughter died in 2011. My wife and daughter Mariam, now three years old, stayed in Ohio, but I came back to Virginia. (My wife doesn’t like Virginia, and I don’t like Ohio.)

Back in Virginia, I worked at Keswick, in the kitchen. Keswick is 18 miles from town, and the money was small — eight dollars/hour, and the hours long—120 hours/two weeks. I worked there for two years.

Now I work at UVa Recycling:=; job is good, life is good. I like to work.

Call Me Daddy by Silvestre Salinas

Charlottesville Adult Education ESL

This is a story about family. I remember when I was a child my mom worked so hard, because she divorced my father who abandoned us. We used to live in my father’s house in a big city, but then my mom got separated from my father. We moved to my grandmother’s house, and my little sister and I had to live with my grandma. My mom had to work a lot. My little sister was two years old, and I was seven at this time. I did not know anything about my father, because he left us, and he never came back. I don’t even remember what he looks like. I only know that he beat me, and I was only seven years old.

A few years later, my mom was in a relationship again, and she had a little boy with him. But just one year later, he cheated on her, and my mom decided to let him go. A few years later, my mom got in another relationship and she had a little girl with him, but then it happened again and this guy left my mom.

I promised to my mom that one day that she never had to worry about having a father for my brother and sisters. I took the position of father because I was the oldest in my family. When I was eleven years old, I told my grandma that I would be the father of my brother and sisters.

Then bang! It was a magical moment when my little sister’s first word to me was “Daddy.” I was really happy that day, and I told all my friends and teachers at the school about it.

It has been a long time since my little sister’s first word; now she’s 22 and she still calls me Daddy because I’m the only daddy that she’s ever known. She doesn’t know who her biologic father is, she has the same situation as me, but at least she has someone to call Daddy.

Sometimes when I talk to her, I ask her, “When are you going to stop calling me Daddy?”, and she always answers, “Never ever, Daddy.”

Lost in the Big City by Rudi Reyes

Charlottesville Adult Education ESL

I have a beautiful family and we’ve had many adventures together. In June, 2011, we took a family vacation. We left Honduras, our country of birth, and our city, San Pedro Sula, to go to the big city of Chicago. Like always, I had made the reservations for our hotel. To get to the hotel from the airport, we needed two vehicles for our family, since we couldn’t all fit in one car with all of our luggage. Our vacation included exploring the city of Chicago in four days using public transportation and it was definitely a family adventure! Afterwards, I rented a minivan so that we could drive from Chicago to Maryland, since we had family there. From Chicago, we passed through Cleveland, Ohio, Buffalo, Manhattan, and Niagara Falls in New York, Washington, D.C. andRockville, Maryland.

Since Chicago is very big and we only had four days in the city, we woke up very early and got back to the hotel very late every day — that is to say, we spent each day out exploring. By the third day of visiting the city, as you can imagine, we were very tired; that day, we took the last train that would take us back to our hotel. If we hadn’t taken the train, we would have had to take a taxi which would have been VERY expensive.

When we got on the train, it was very full and there wasn’t enough space for everyone. My daughter, Nicole, was very small and so she climbed to the second level of the train where she found a seat. I told her, “Don’t worry — stay sitting down and before our stop, I’ll come find you.” She went to sleep because we were about 17 stops from the hotel. The rest of us in the family squeezed and shoved ourselves into four different cars, some in front and some further back. People were entering and exiting the train at the different stations and we were talking and waiting for our stop when I heard from the loudspeakers, “Mr. Rudi.” Even though I heard it, I didn’t think it was for me. Again, I heard”Rudi Reyes” and I said to my son, “That sounds like my name.” He said, “Daddy, no one knows you here?” But again, I heard “Rudy Reyes Avela” and I said, “Without a doubt, it’s me they’re calling!”

The instructions over the loudspeaker said to go to the conductor’s car. So, I ran and people moved out of my way. When I arrived at the front car, I saw my daughter with teary eyes holding the hand of the official who collects the tickets. Like in a scene from a movie, we hugged and I said, “Don’t worry honey, we hadn’t forgotten you” and the crowd around us started clapping. This was a happy ending to a big adventure for my daughter Nicole and me.

My Growing Family by Acheli Kabura

Charlottesville Adult Education ESL

I am from Burundi, but I came to Charlottesville with my family in January 2008. I have eight children: seven sons, one daughter, and four grandchildren.

My wife is named Alphonsine. We got married in 1980 in Tanzania in a mission church. Alphonsine is happy every day. She’s always smiling and laughing. She’s a good cook. She cooks rice, beans, and fish. Every evening she prays with her sons. She’s a very good mother.

My daughter Devotee is 28 years old. She got married foru years ago and lives in Mobile, Alabama. She has a son and a daughgter. My family visits her every two years.

Four of my sons are working. Edison has a son and daughter and he works at UVA. Viola got married one month ago; he works at UVA also. Bienvenue got married three months ago. He works at UVA. Gentil is 25 years old and he works at UVA. My other three sons –Fabrice, Elihud, and Leon — are students in Charlottesville City Schools. I would like for them to graduate from high school.

As you can see, I have a growing family.

A Part of My Family by Lourdes Pineda-Reyes

Charlottesville Adult Education ESL

Some years ago, I had a beautiful dog named Laica that was well loved by the whole family. She was very social and affectionate with the whole family — to such an extent that she became part of the family.

Laica was the wife of our other dog, Thunder. One day we realized taht Laica was pregnangt — it was very exciting for the family because we knew she was going to have puppies. When the big day arrived, Laica became very restless. We decided to let mother nature do her job and so the whole family went to sleep.

In the middle of the night, we hard a lot of noise close to the front door, so we decided to go see what was going on. With much surprise, we realized it was Laica — she was asking for help because she couldn’t have her puppies. Immediately, she came closer to me and with her gaze, directed me to her den, waiting for me to help her. So I said, “I’m not a vet or a midwife, but I will help my dog!” I put on some gloves and we started the night-long job of birthing her puppies. In this way, 12 beautiful puppies were born — puppies that I watched and helped bifrth since Laica wouldn’t let anyone else except for me help her in this special moment.

The connectin between Laica and me was special and indescribable. She gave me permission, apart from being her owner or mistress, to be her friend. I know that this story is different and it should be about my human family, but when you truly love your pets, they become part of the family.

Hopefully A Family by Marilyn Blendon Morales

Charlottesville Adult Education ESL

In my family there are many people. There are five sisters. I am the oldest. The fourth is Paola, the third is Daniela, the second is Camila, and the last is Valentina.

My fourth sister, Paola, is 16 years old, and she likes to cook. She has a weird sense of humor. Sometimes she laughs alone, and sometimes she gets angry with everyone. But I always maker her laugh.

The third is Daniela, 13 years old. She loves to sing, and she always protects her hair. She has a very cute smile. I always try to maker her laugh.

The second, Camila, is 12 years old. She likes to draw and paint. Sometimes I also make her laugh.

The baby of the family is Valentine. She is 9 years old. She has beautiful hair and is very pretty. I have two parents, my mom and my dad, and we live together.

I want all the time to play with my little sisters, but each one has many things to do. I love when my sisters talk with me. Sometimes my sisters and I go to the park to play different games and sports like basketball and soccer.

I have four grandparents and I have many cousins. I am very happy with my family.

From the Himalayans Mountains to Charlottesville, VA: My Life History by Sal Ghale

Charlottesville Adult Education EL

My favorite family member is my wife. I love my wife very much. I love my children very much. We have seven children — the youngest is 20 years old and the oldest is 32. I live with my wife, daughter, son, daughter-in-law, and grandson in Charlottesville, VA. The rest of my family lives in Nepal.

My wife and I have been married for 40 years. We were married in my hometown of Sangkhuawa Sabha which is 9,000 feet abov e sea level. For 25 years, we lived in the lowlands of Nepal and for 10 years in Kathmandu. And now I have lived in Charlottesville for 4 months and 10 days, my wife for 9 months, my daughter for 4 years and my so for 8 years.

Family Festivals by San Maya Rai

Albemarle County Adult Education GED

An important festival is Diwali. In this festival all brothers receive a Tika from their sister. That is a “brother’s day.” In this time the sister will bless their brothers in this way. A family is a combinatin of people which is formed by father, mother, son and daughter. The head of the family is the father. In the family we need to keep love and affection with each other. If there is not any cooperation with each other, then it will separate the family. We can share each and everything in the family. Dashara is our main festival. In this festival we are all gathered in the family and put a Tika on each family member, and they bless us and also have delicious food. After 15 days of Dashara again we have another festival. All the family are gathered and share their love and affection with each other.

Old Photo by Tiia Lugus

Charlottesville Adult Education ESL

I found the picture in her childhood home in the county of Vorumaa, Estonia. It was an amazing, beautiful photo taken in 1910. I asked my mother, “Who are these people in this picgture?” Shje told me this was one of my favorite people when I was a kid. She gave me the picture and I’ve had it for 29 years.

The picture was of my grandmother and her parents. Her name was Emilie Rosalie. People who remember my grandmother told me that she must ahve been eight years old. She came from a simple family, and her parents worked on a farm owned by someone else. My grandmother grew up in Germany, and she spoke German, Latvian, and Russian.

My grandmother was my grandfather’s second wife. His first wife died young, and happened to have the same name as his second wife. She left behid four children. Then my grandfather hired a house maid who helped with the cleaning, cooking, and other chores. The house maid became his second wife after two years.

At the beginning of World War II, Germany came through Estonia and made new rules. A couple of months later, the Russians took over and made more new rules. Since my grandmother spoke both Russian and German languages, she saved my family from being exiled to Siberia.

I remember taht my grandmother was a quiet, short, and round woman. I don’t remember her talking out loud. I only remember her yelling to her neighbor, Lotte, who was half a mile away. She handled problems quietly and made you feel warm. She always wore a long skirt that she made herself. And I remember her holding her skirt up when she would walk fast. My grandfather made her a wooden horse that she loved sitting on, and we loved playing with it. We loved snuggling with her, but slept in another room. We would go in her room and touch everything and she would shoo us out. She had a sewing machine and other old things. My grandfather built the bed. My grandmother made the sheets. And they used wheat as a mjattress. It smelled very interesting.

My grandmother used to make lots of soups with different things, like herbs, beans, and rhubarb. One day I went to look at the soup and knocked the pot over. I ran away from the kitchen, because I was afraid that I would get in trouble. My grandmother cleaned it up, and I never got in trouble, because she never told my mother. Because I was little, I don’t remember everything but I do remember her kindess and warmth.

When my grandmother passed away, it was like she knew what was coming. She had set all her commode to having all the necessary things ready for her funeral. When she was lying in her coffin, I secretly went and laid beside her, hoping she was just tired and would soon wake up. I couldn’t believe she wasn’t there anymore. I remember so little about her.