A Story of Determination

By: Manar Almidani

It was a humid August day when I walked into my 7th grade class for the first time. Everything was new to me. I had arrived in America a mere two weeks ago after narrowly escaping the violent Syrian civil war. I sat down at my desk, looking around, taking in my new environment when my thoughts were interrupted by whom I assumed was my new teacher. She briefly introduced herself and then started handing out test packets for the summer reading that the students were assigned. I glanced over the packet knowing there was no way I would be able to answer these questions. I kept canvassing the questions again and again frustrated by what I perceived was my own incompetence.  After giving up hope, I handed in the paper blank, something I had never done before. I sat back in my desk, overwhelmed and defeated by my rocky start to the school year in my new home.

The hopelessness I felt slowly started to morph into determination to learn English in order to do well in school, communicate well with my peers, and express my thoughts and ideas. Initially, mastering the English language was an obstacle in my way that I had to overcome in order to succeed and grow in my new environment. I needed it to survive. I knew I had to be determined, patient, and focused if I wanted to be able to keep up with my peers. I acknowledged that if I worked hard, it would pay off eventually. I started to stay after school for help, take time out of my day to learn vocabulary and grammar, and rewrite passages out of books, so I could learn new words and look up the words that I didn’t know in the dictionary. With the help of siblings, my ESL teacher, and my hard work, I passed my ESL test with a score of 5 out of 5. The journey was not easy, to put it lightly, but I enjoyed it every step of the way.

Eventually, I have come to have a hunger for a language that once sounded so foreign to me where I now devour anything I can get my hands on from books to magazines. My five years of hard work and diligence have payed off so that now as a senior in high school I can take two AP classes and write this essay.I recognize that I have come a long way from that first day of school in 7th grade, but my learning does not stop here. I am continually increasing my vocabulary and honing my English skills. It is an ongoing process, but it is one that I enjoy and welcome it with arms wide open.

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