In Dorina’s words: "For My Family"

Below is an excerpt from an essay written by Dorina Arapi who attended our workshop at Elmhurst College.* You can read her full essay and others we’ll be featuring at In Their Own Words: Ten Outstanding Student Essays.

My brother Sali and I are in the living room watching Barney and Sesame Street. There is loud banging at the door. I hesitate to open it; my mother always told me not to open the door for anyone. But the knock becomes louder and a woman calls out: “Open the door.” Terrified, I obey. As I slowly open the door I see a blond haired, skinny woman. She is dressed in a navy blue uniform. On the far left side of her chest she wears a sophisticated gold and silver pin. On the far right side of her chest she has a nametag that says, Officer Terry. Her eyes are ice blue and her hair braided in under her police hat. “Are you alone?” she demands.

I am an Albanian-American. My family and I came to the United States 10 years ago to have a better life. I did everything I could to fit in the American culture. Each night the first year in America, I sat with my mom until twelve o’clock at night learning how to read English. I first wrote down every word I did not know and early looked it up in the dictionary. Then I memorized each word and went back to translating the story in Albanian in order for me to comprehend it. I felt like I was an adult before a kid. I never had a break to go to the park or ride bikes like normal eight year olds. I had to perfect my English in order to fit in. Little did I realize it would be in this new culture that I would almost lose everything that made me who I am—my family.

*Read earlier student essays here, here, and here.

One Reply to “In Dorina’s words: "For My Family"”

  1. These essays are very moving and I enjoy reading. I can imagine the enjoyment that a funder or sponsor gets reading them.

    But so what? So ten kids write good essays. What about the thousands who are systematically denied the opportunity to learn because educators cling the misguided notion that teaching is some sort of magic that can’t be taught or learned but has to rise up organically.

    If you showed me that thirty of the least likely to succeed high school students had managed to master upper level alegbra or demonstrate basic understanding economics or American history I would be much more impressed. This looks like someone skimmed the cream and took credit for it.

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