My Family

Margarita Granados
Charlottesville Adult Ed ESL

am from Mexico. I have a beautiful family. Oscar, my son, is 23 years old. My son is attending Universidad de Leon in Mexico where he is studying to become an Architect. Estephania, my daughter, who is 13 years old, is very intelligent. She is in 8th grade, and she has a scholarship for 9th grade. This past Christmas we went to Mexico. We had a happy and enjoyable holiday with all of the family. All of us really enjoyed being together.

My Children

Yarnelle Woodfolk
Charlottesville Adult Ed

have three beautiful children.

They are my heart.

When I am with them, I feel happy.

When they need something from me, I give it to them.

When they smile, I see the sunshine.

When they sleep, they look like angels having a dream at night.

Thatís why I love my three beautiful children.

I Miss Chinese New Year

Tian Qin
Charlottesville Adult Ed ESL

ím from China. My wife and I came from a little family, but my family is a big family in China. My motherís family has two brothers and three sisters. My fatherís family has two brothers and four sisters. The two families are not in one city, and the distance is far away. I love everyone in my family. But I especially like my motherís family because I was born there. Every year my motherís family members all go to my grandfatherís home. During the Chinese New Year, I celebrate with my grandfather who is an honorable person. He went to war, and he was a commander. He has a splendid past. So our family is very proud of him. I like Chinese New Year so that I can visit my grandfather. Iím very happy.

The Chinese New Year is the best celebration of the year. My family also sees the Chinese New Year as a big celebration. My family members all come to my grandfatherís home. There are eighteen persons in my family. We chat, make food, watch TV, and play in the home. Making food is the best and most important work, especially making dumplings. The Chinese name for dumpling is jian zi. This is a kind of food from northern China. Whether a young man or old person, all will make it until midnight when all people take out the fireworks and begin lighting them. Here the sound is deafening on the city. The cityís sky is like daylight. Everybody begins to laugh but the celebration still has not ended on the second day when the sky is still dark. I hear two large voices. I was running outside. I looked for my grandfather. He is happy. Formerly a Chinese custom is whoever gets up first and lights the firecracker will have good luck.

The Chinese New Year is February 6th. I miss my family. I miss our Chinese New Year.

My Family History

Alda Padilla
Charlottesville Adult Ed ESL

grew up in Chinandega, Nicaragua with my family: my father, my mother, and my seven brothers and one sister.

In Nicaragua I worked for the state as a topographer. I drew the map of Chinandega with GPS. One day I stopped work to relax. I looked out the window of my office. Next door was a theater. I saw a teacher taking a class of little children to learn to dance. She looked up and saw me watching. Two hours later we spoke.

She was in the Peace Corps. She was a teacher and she also was replanting the forest in the mountains. Two years later we were married in Chinandega. Six months later we took an airplane from Managua to Washington, DC.

Now we live in Earlysville. My wife works in the University. I build fences. Now my family is small.

My Vacation Cruise

Beatrice Harris
Charlottesville Adult Ed

ast year my children went with me on a cruise in Florida. It was a lovely day, and everyone was to meet at the hotel. Most everyone was in place that morning, ready for the cruise. I was one happy soul because it was the day before my birthday. That was the reason I was on the vacation.

We had breakfast together on the cruise. Then we went on the dock to look over the ocean. The wind came up while we were out on the dock. All of us hurried back into the ship.

There were game rooms and movies. Some of the gang played bingo and the others went to see a movie. We all had a swell time together.

Soon it was time for my birthday dinner. My children picked out a lovely restaurant. All of us were ready to eat. Then I received my birthday gifts. Iíll never forget how wonderful it was to me.

What Does a True Friend Mean?

Peishia Firman
Fluvanna

y definition of a true friend is...
Someone that you can share
your greatest joys and deepest hurts with.
Someone that you can reveal
your wildest dreams to and secrets of the soul.
Someone that you can express
yourself to with heartfelt words and understood silences.
Itís someone you can count on
when times are tough and decisions are difficult.
That person is someone you can share the stories of your past with,
also your hopes for tomorrow in which theyíll give you motivation
to move on and pursue your dreams of becoming or doing
whatever it is that you feel is the right thing, to accomplish something in your life.
Itís someone that will experience your tears, laughter, and the craziness of life with that understands and will embrace you when times in your life get hard and sometimes feel out of hand or something that you canít control
A true friend is someone that would never judge you or slander your name in any situation. A true friend is someone you can talk to, trust and have outstanding loyalty until the end.
Thatís my definition of a true friend.

Sister and Brother Love

John Leslie
Nelson County Adult Education

y sister, Sue, is three and a half years older than me. I havenít seen her this past thirty-one years. She has arthritis in her bones. Now she is in and out of hospital and nursing home. I would love to get my GED and to own a restaurant one of these days. To make a long story short we have a little problem in our goals, but I love her very much, hoping she doesnít have seizures that bad.

She has a daughter whose son is seven years old and is in 1st grade and a second husband. They live down in Florida and are getting along real well. These past few months things have been a little rough on us, plus, my brother in-lawís mother passed away a couple months ago. I say my prayers for them including my mother who is 83 years old and is in a nursing home. She has one leg and is getting along real well.

My Uncle Frank

Kathryn Bomyea
Fluvanna

was born February 2, 1988. Obviously, the first person to hold me tenderly was my mama, but I believe the person most in awe of me was my Uncle Frank. He was my daddyís childhood friend, but he was closer than blood. He gave me my first nickname, Katiebug. He taught me to respect wildlife and love the woods. He also wore out the pull my-finger joke like it was the funniest thing in the world.

Uncle Frank was larger than life. He was always smiling. When things werenít going right or I was having a bad day, he would do something silly and make things better.

When I was 12, he killed himself. I remember that day better than any other. My brother, Mark, and I had been laughing at a cartoon we were watching. My daddy called us from the front porch. I was still giggling when I stepped out the door and saw tears in my daddyís eyes. He told us simply, with no sugarcoating.

My daddy had the phone pressed to his chest, and Mark and I stood there in front of him wondering what could make a grown man cry. The words fell out of his mouth like a ball of yarn unraveling. My legs wouldnít hold me up; I fell in a heap on the floor. My whole body grew numb, and I heard a voice I didnít recognize as my own yelling "NO" over and over. I was inconsolable. I didnít want anyone to touch me so I crawled under the wicker chair and curled into a ball.

The day came for my uncleís memorial. He was cremated so there was just a bunch of photographs spanning his lifetime set up around the funeral home. Amazing how we can sum up a life, consolidate it into a pile of pictures. When I walked into the room, the smell of roses overwhelmed me, and I had to fight the urge to vomit. People milled about, telling stories and laughing. I remember thinking they shouldnít be there. Like they didnít belong and had no right to brighten the room with their joy.

I stepped out fast and rooted in the ashtrays for a cigarette to smoke. I walked around trying to listen to the birds sing, but it was raining and cold. I looked up into the clouds and let the rain mix with the tears that slipped down my face. The birds werenít singing, and that made me cry harder.

After awhile my daddy found me and made me come inside. I was red-faced and sopping wet as I walked to the front of the room. Everyone stared at me. When the funeral director stood at the podium and started to speak, I put my hands over my ears and ducked my head between my knees. My Grams rubbed my back and tried to get me to sit up, but I didnít want to hear anyone.

The song "I Will Remember You" by Sarah McLaughlin filled the speakers, and I started to sing. I didnít realize until the song was almost over that the music had been turned off, and mine was the only voice heard. I finished the song as a fresh wave of tears rolled down my cheeks.

There was a poem on the card that the funeral home handed out. The first two lines read: "Iíd like to give a lake of beer to God. Iíd like the Heavenly Host to be tippling there with me for all eternity." Itís an old Irish prayer. I couldnít help but be amazed at how apt those words were for my uncle. Uncle Frank, always with a smile, would have loved to sit down with the Lord and a lake of beer. He would probably ask God to pull his finger and fart so loud he would have to laugh.

My Sweet Grandmother

Virginia Fisher
Nelson County Adult Education

y sweet grandmother Lizzie and grandmom Maidie lived with my mother and father. They babysat my sisters Lucille, Ethel, my baby sister Carolyn, and my brother James. We had a wood cook stove in an old three bedroom house.

They were good. They babied us. They were good to us and taught us how to cook, clean and wash clothing. My brother, James, would bring the wood in to cook. Our parents were working, and they tried to pay bills and buy our clothing.

Grandmoms had their meal on the old cook stove. We all shared good times together. When they got sick and died, we were all crying and crying. We all called them Mom Lizzie and Mom Maidie. We all miss them and still think about them and what we learned from them and shared together.

Guardian Angel

Heather B. Stickley
Charlottesville Adult Ed

ctober 6, 2007, I wish that I could have thought the truth was only a joke. Iíve been scared my whole life of losing someone close to me. I got a visit from my social worker. She said that there had been an accident, and she was crying. Thoughts were already rushing through my head. Iím panicking asking who and wondering what was really going on. Finally she took a deep breath, and told me in a very short but shrieking voice, "Your Dad took his life earlier today, and no one could help him."

I thought that I had lost everything, not only was he my father, but he was also my best friend. I told him everything; we just connected. Growing up he was never really there, then in my teen years we got so close. I spoke with him one hour and forty-five minutes before he passed. The last thing he said was I miss you and love you very much. After dealing with the funeral and family, I couldnít have let go. Now Iím being strong. I know now not to be scared anymore because my Daddy is watching over me like my Guardian Angel.

My Trip to Mexico

Kristie Bollinger
Albemarle County Adult Education

y favorite family gathering is when we all go to Mexico every summer. When we go on this trip it takes a lot of preparation. You have to have all the passports, lots of clothes, food, water, etc. The trip takes about 36 hours each way. We always drive because it costs too much for the whole family to fly. You end up spending a lot of hours together in a vehicle.

I have had some interesting experiences while driving to Mexico. One time my 3-year old became really sick. We stopped in Baton Rouge at a local hospital to get him looked at. After being there for hours, we never were able to get any help. We ended up leaving without ever being seen. Boy, were we mad! He was sick all the way to Houston, Texas. By that time everybody was upset and fighting. Now that was a LONG trip!

We also seem to have vehicle problems no matter how much we prep the car and have it checked before we leave. Once, the relay on the truck motor got hot so we had to stop and let it cool down. Everybody was tired of riding; then they got tired of waiting. If itís not one thing, itís another! However, when you think about the fun you will have and all the food my in-laws prepare, it is worth it.

The most important reason for going to Mexico is to see my husbandís mom and dad. His mom is my favorite family member. She cooks and spoils us all. When Iím there, Iím truly on vacation. I donít cook or clean. My mother-in-law cooks so much food that we just eat all day and night. She prepares delicious food such as tamales, rice, and enchiladas.

My children also love it there because they can play and hang out on the streets until really late at night. They meet new friends who usually donít speak a lot of English but they still hang out together and get along. I think itís kind of weird how different people who canít communicate well can still have a good time together. By the time we are ready to come home, everyone feels they have really gotten to know each other.

Although everyone gets along, my father-in-law is really a boring, old man. He just works in the field, feeds his cows, and works in his cornfield. Sometimes he takes the children to ride the horses, but most of the time he is gone from the house.

Visiting my Mexican family is my favorite family gathering. I like spending time away from everything and totally enjoying myself. Then, at the end, getting back home is a pleasure. There is truly ďno place like homeĒ especially when you have gone on a long vacation.

My Soulmate

Mattie L. Smith
Nelson County Adult Education

He is the apple of my eye.
He is the core of my heart and soul.
Also my best friend, my confidence, and my life.
In his gentle quiet presence,
My heart opens like a scroll.
There is none like him that could ever compare
He is there with me, no matter what my needs.
He is inner peace, shelters me, especially when I am in despair.
A gift like you is hard to find.
I know you are not perfect to some.
But the man I know and have found is most loving
And kind.
I couldnít find a better one if I try.
I know without you my life would be nothing
And my spirit would die.
Memories of your sweet voice are the sweetest I have ever heard.
I am swimming in thoughts of yesterdays.
Trying to hold on to things so dear
As I think waves of loving begin
And then those precious memories start to kick in.
I have had some bright and sunny days
And now the skies seem so bright and clear.
I drive the back roads, and the countryside in deep thought
Thinking of what the trails of life have given me.
You have given me smiles through the few months,
Since I have been talking to you.
I am drenched in a sea of tears
As I look at the face of the man I love.
You are one of a kind my precious Friend.

The Way of Life

Marques Ross
Fluvanna County Adult Education

hen I first got my dogs, they were almost as cold as ice. When my dogs were puppies, they were so sweet. Now, they just bring me that precious deer meat. I named one Yoda and one Dotty; the baby is Tanguray. She really thinks sheís a hotty. I love to turn them loose just to hear them run, but when Yoda barks, you should go get your gun. I love my dogs with all of my heart. Thatís why nothing could keep us apart.

My Christmas Tree Hunt

Cynthia Ledesma
Albemarle County Adult Education

ne Christmas, my family decided to go to the neighborís cow field to find a Christmas tree. Our neighbor, Preston Bell, had about four or five fields, so he told us to go choose a tree. My mom, who was in charge of this expedition, along with me and my three brothers, started walking through a cow field looking for the "perfect" tree. Unfortunately, that field was the one with several baby calves in it. The calves were all sleeping in one spot in the field, and we didnít see them until we were right up to them. My mom and I were scared seeing all the babies (babies mean big mamas!), but we were "on a mission" to find a tree. While we were walking past the calves, one of my brothers got stupid and decide to yell, wave at, and stomp at the babies. Needless to say, then the mama cows got angry and charged us. Now we were all scared and started running. When I looked back, I realized the cows were gaining on us. So mom yells to us that cows canít climb trees. At that point we all started looking for a tree to climb. I found a holly tree and climbed that as quickly as I could. My three brothers all found a big pine tree and managed to climb that one. Unfortunately, mom picked the tiniest, spindliest, flimsiest tree in the field. As mom climbed up the tree (or bush), the tree would bend under her weight until she was practically on the ground again. Finally the tree broke and mom hit the ground. Convinced that the cows were still after us, mom jumped up and started running again looking for another tree. After she managed to climb a second tree and had time to calm down, she looked around and realized that the cows were gone. She had panicked for nothing! But while this was going on, I was still in my holly tree - crying. I was so scared! I told mom I would NOT come out of that tree until my daddy came and saved me.

We eventually got our Christmas tree that year. However, I learned a hard lesson - NEVER GO LOOKING FOR TREES IN A COWFIELD WITH CRAZY PEOPLE!

My Parents Were My Children

Nahla Halumi
Charlottesville Adult Ed ESL

pril 1982, was the beginning of difficult days in my life. My life changed from happy days to sad days.

Any person might want to know that or what is the reason. I will explain why! In the month above, I returned from my job, and I saw many people in my home. All of them were crying. I was afraid and asked them what happened. They told me that my father was in the hospital in a dangerous condition. He couldnít speak or move; he couldnít feel around himself. I was surprised when I heard that he had to stay in the hospital nearly one month. After that, he became better. He left the hospital and came back home.

Before he became ill, he was responsible for the work in our life. But then his doctor told him not to work hard because his health was not good. He couldnít drive, and the doctor gave a lot of other advice. Life became very difficult.

I decided to learn how to drive a car. Then I learned how to drive. I became responsible for my life. If anyone in my family needed anything, I would do it.

I had very difficult days when I took him to his doctor. He cried when the doctor talked to him. I couldnít do anything at that time. I was very sad. I did everything for his happiness and took care of him.

My parents were like my children. All my friends asked me, "how are your children?" These days passed quickly. But I was very happy with them and did everything for them. I liked to offer this, and I felt their happiness.

In August 1992, one of my children (my father) died. The reason for his death was cardiac arrest. I was very sad at that time. My mother was also ill all the time. She was sad for her husband because they lived a long time together with a love story, and suddenly she was alone.

They really were difficult days. She always was crying. Her lifeís only memory was what she had with him, and she remembered him also singing when they were together. One day her health was very bad. She had high blood pressure and heart attacks very bad all the time. She was ill for five years after 1992.

In April 1998, mother died, also. I lost the dearest people in my life. I believed my parents were like my children. When they died, I felt that I had lost everything in my life. I always remember them. However, they were beautiful days although they were very hard. I hope one day to return to live there. But this hope is not reality.

My Favorite Car

Bryan Coryman
Charlottesville

My favorite car is an import like Honda Nissan. I like imports because of all the neat stuff you can do; like motor work, paint jobs, stereo equipment, rims, and ground effects. Imports are usually cool.

It is fun to do motor works to the cars because it makes them go faster, and it is a big adrenaline rush for me. I like to go fast. There are a lot of motor parts you can change to make them go faster than normal.

The stereo equipment is fun to install. The stereo can really be loud when you want it to. You can do competition and win money and trophies. I have won the competition twice.

There are many types of rims to put on the cars. There are also many different styles; like alloy, chrome, and aluminum and maybe a couple of other types too.

The ground effects are things like neon lights, and they come in many colors. The neon lights make the car stand out from other cars. There are other ground effects that are on top of their paint jobs.

The best type of car to put a lot of work into is a Honda. They are the fastest import cars, I think. Hondas are made very well by the Japanese people. The Japanese people work real hard. They do a lot of special work to their cars.

Honda is my favorite type of car.

My Saddest Story

Carmen Ramos
Literacy Volunteers-Charlottesville/Albemarle

y fatherís name was Isrrael Paz. We lived in Honduras in Santa Barbara village. He died in February 2000 in an accident. He was riding on a flat bed of a truck. The wind blew his hat off. He checked for his hat, and he fell off the truck. My sister tried to catch him, but it was impossible.

My friend called me with the news. I could do nothing because it was Sunday, and my kids were young. I had only a TPS, not a green card, so I did not go to Honduras. This is my sad history.

I remember he worked on the farm. He planted corn, beans, and vegetables. My father went very early in the morning. He came back in the afternoon. He rested for one hour afterwards. After dinner, he sat outside and talked with our neighbor, Ricardo.

Now when I visit my mother the house is very silent. When someone passes away, everything is different.

My Life Adventure

Caridad E. Baskin
Charlottesville Adult Ed ESL

My name is Caridad. I was born in Havana, Cuba, on March 9, 1979. Cuba is a beautiful Caribbean Island with wonderful people but a struggling economy and political system. In 1995, my mother, brother and sister moved to Germany, where I have lived for the last 13 years. I am a loving wife and the proud mother of my beautiful children. I speak two languages fluently (German and Spanish) and I am working on my third - English. We have lived in Charlottesville since June 2007 and look forward to the next adventure life has in store for us.

My Guardian Angel

Augustin Cid
Charlottesville Adult Ed ESL

ello. I am 25 years old, and Iím from Mexico. I have a great family, but Iím going to write about my sister, Rosario, who is my best friend and a beautiful person. Rosario has a little child, Jose Guillermo, and she works in an auto parts store as a manager.

I remember Rosario helping me many times, but especially when I decided to move to the USA. At this time I had quit the university, and I was so sad because I hadnít finished school, and my parents were sad, too. I didnít know what to do, and nobody helped me except my sister.

One day she talked with me about my future and about my choice to continue with school or work. I decided to come to Charlottesville to work and try to make a better life for me and for my parents. Rosario still helps me now. I am trying to build my house in Mexico and save money to open a business, and she is the person who takes care of my money.

Iím the youngest in my family and sometimes I made big, big mistakes. Everybody was mad at me, but my sister always had the time to talk with me about how I can fix my faults. I love my sister because she helps me and never asks for anything. Now I try to be a nice person just like her. One day she told me, "Who doesnít live to serve doesnít deserve to live," and I think she is right.

Sorrow

Juhiza Khimis
Charlottesville Adult Ed ESL

tís not pleasant for me to write my story. After I finished high school, I went to college in Baghdad. When I finished my study in college, earning a degree in Pharmacology, I started to serve people by working in a Diagnostic Bacteriology lab. I married and had children. Then, I had to take care of my children in addition to working in the lab. It is the same thing that many women all over the world do.

My children began their studies and graduated. I was very happy because I was rewarded for my hard work.

But there were some people who did not want others to be happy. In my country, there are some people who like to make war and kill people. So, the war started and entered my peaceful home. As a result, my one son has a brain tumor, and my other son was killed. The killer was uncivilized because he killed men of science. My son was a pharmacist, and he was studying for his masterís degree. He left behind two children Ė one he had never met because his wife was pregnant at the time of his death.

I wonder what these killers gain from this dirty work? Nothing, except that a father is prevented from seeing his children grow up, and a mother is left to cry for the remainder of her life.

A Beautiful Surprise

Sanja Mitrovic
Literacy Volunteers-Charlottesville/Albemarle

hen I came home last Tuesday, there was a surprise. My husband was making dinner. My children were inside when a call came through our new video phone on the computer. I activated the buttons, and I saw my sister there. I couldnít believe that we were seeing each other! She cried, and so did I. We had not seen each other since I left my home country five years ago.

My sister had a surprise for me. She turned the camera to a precious and familiar person. That was my mother. Right then I was shocked and very happy. Tears of joy were dropping because I remembered my past, and I felt how much I loved my mother. My mother wiped her tears from her wrinkled face. Through her eyes and her look, I read her thoughts and her desire that one day we will be together again.

The longness of 9,000 miles shrank to 2 feet. I reached for the screen wanting to touch my mother. We looked at each other for a long time. After that, we talked.

Untitled

Abruidris Yagoub
Charlottesville Adult Ed ESL

ím going to Washington, DC next month, in March.

Holiday: my favorite holiday is Christmas.

I have books: dictionary.

I live in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Family

Marija Matic
Charlottesville Adult Ed ESL

am from Yugoslavia. I live in Charlottesville and work at UVA. I like my job. I have two sons and two grandchildren, one boy and one girl. My grandson is a boy named Luka. My granddaughter is named Jovana. I like my grandchildren.

My Special Mother

Yohana Y. Gopnzalez
Charlottesville Adult Ed ESL

y motherís name is Mely. She is 45 years old. She is from Panama and she lives there too. My mother has white skin. Her hair is dark and curled. She is short and a little fat. She is a very talkative woman.

She works as a teacher in an elementary school. She works with children so she loves her work. In her free time, she likes to cook, and she knows how to do it very well. Her special plates are two Panamanian plates and she prepares them on weekends. My mother is a very lovely and kind woman. She always volunteers in a nutrition house, where they give food to poor children. They live there while they become better.

For those reasons and many others, she is my special mother.

Charlottesville is My Second Homeland

Dorjee Damdoo
Charlottesville Adult Ed ESL

am a nomadic man, born in Tibet. When I was 19 years old, I left my country. Because Chinese invaded my homeland in 1959 and since then the situation is very bad. There is no human rights nor freedom for people living there. Like rest of the Tibetans, I, too, could not bear the daily strict and unhealthy situation with Chinese rules. Thatís why I left my country for good leaving behind my family members.

After living in India for a few years, I got an opportunity to come to the United States. When I first come to America I was surprised to see broad clean roads and uniform houses. Also, people are friendly, honest, caring helpful and educated.

Most of the difficult part for me is not knowing the English language. I have never been to school in my life. In my country, Tibetans are still uneducated, and most of them are nomads and farmers. Even if they want to go to school. Chinese government stops them from doing so.

As soon as I arrived in the U.S., I began the process of seeking asylum. I lived with my uncle at the Dorje Ling Buddhist Center Brooklyn, New York where I learned to speak a little bit English. I found jobs that paid well to be plentiful in New York, and began working a construction job. Thatís where, I was on September 11, 2001. Listening to music on the radio while working, my boss heard the first reports of the attacks. Although I understood very little English at the time, I could see how upset the man was, and when my boss ran up to a higher point of the building, I followed him. There, I saw a huge smokes coming from the World Trade Center. Oh my God! Then I saw the South Tower come down. After that there was too much dust to see anything, else.

My wife and son werenít able to join me in New York until the following year. By then jobs in the devastated city had become more difficult to find.

One day I find a job in Indiana, and we move to Indianapolis, Indiana. I liked my job and the people. But the difficulties are transportation and English language. Also, there are no Tibetan families.

Two years later, our family visited Charlottesville, for my homeland friend, Gyaltsenís, wedding. We met with many friends, and there are a lot of Tibetans living in Charlottesville. We are very happy and enjoy it there. Also, Charlottesville is very beautiful. We love very much. We decided to move to Charlottesville. First, we stayed with my friend, Gyaltsen, for a couple months. I was self-employed and moved to an apartment. Afterwards, I got a UVA groundskeeper job. I really like my job and UVA benefits. Also, they provide a benefit - to study in ESL class. Now Iím getting better at English and everything. I have car; I bought a house. My family is very happy here. Charlottesville is my dreamland and my second homeland.

Story About My Father

Geneva Barbour
Literacy Volunteers-Charlottesville/Albemarle

y father was a very loving dad. He took care of us. When my father was a young man, he worked on the railroad for many years in Virginia. He was in school for a short time because he left school to take care of his 16 brothers and sisters. My father was the oldest one of the boys.

When my father met our mother in school, they dated many years. He could not read or write that well, but he could do his math very well. He could count money, too. My father and mother got married and gave birth to 8 children.

Daddy needed a job so they hired him to work for the State Department. He worked there until he retired.

We did not have an indoor bathroom. We used an outdoor bathroom. We had to go behind a log or a tree. We have to use a brown paper bag and leaves to wipe ourselves. My father fixed us an outdoors toilet. I was very glad because I said no one can see me using the bathroom any more.

We had no running water either. I got water from a spring to wash clothes. My mother had a washboard and a potbelly washing machine.

My grandmother sold a cow and a pig for 50 acres of land.

Then my dad built us a house and we had an indoors bathroom. This was what I remember about my daddy.

Holiday

Shuyina Jin
Charlottesville Adult Ed ESL

oliday! I was very happy in my home, shopping for a lot of food. I telephoned my family; sister, brother and my son. My brother said, "China, weather very cold." My sisterís home, everything is very nice. They miss me.

Holiday! My son came to my home; he gave me money to buy some fruit. Together we go to a restaurant for dinner. My son doesnít like me to make food. When my son comes, he helps me by working in my yard, cleaning it. He is working too hard. I am very happy.

My husband takes my dog outside to exercise. He has time to clean the home. I very much like holidays in my home, free. I like my work.

Rainy Day

Farah Ibrahim
Charlottesville Adult Ed ESL

t was a cloudy autumn afternoon. We went to visit my sister in law at the hospital. She had just given birth to our first niece. It wasn't until we entered the room that I saw her. They put her in a cradle by her mother's bed and I stood there looking at her cute little face. She was so beautiful, and when she curled her tiny fingers around mine, I felt alittle tickle in my heart.

I don't know what I will tell her when she asks me when her father will come home. I can't tell her that we lost him in that tragic incident. She's only four. She can't understand that sometimes this is life. We will never know just how much it would be against her father's will to miss her first day of school. He will miss her first great success. And he won't be there for her on her wedding day.

So I'll just leave her now looking at the star saying, "Good night daddy, I love you."

My Son

Josefina Garcia
Charlottesville Adult Ed ESL Marriott

y son is 18 years old. He talks to me everyday about his teacher and friends. The teacher tells me he's a very good student because he does well on the exams.

My Most Favorite Nephew

Eleanor M. Melo
Charlottesville Adult Ed ESL

y favorite family members are my nephew and niece, but my one nephew is the most favorite because he is so sweet to me.

Once in the night I went to my brother's home and I told him I'm alone tonight. My nephew heard what my brother and I were talking about and he said to his father he wants to sleep and he said to me, "It so many bad people, I scared for you."

When my nephew was sick I told my brother I want to care for his son and I cried because I was sad for my nephew.

I saw my nephew wake up and he saw me cry. He asked me why are you crying? I said that I sad you are sick. He told me don't worry aunt. I see you now. I am strong now, but don't you leave me, ok? I love you aunt. Stay with me please and his sickness is healing test.

I promised my nephew will buy a toy and go to McDonalds and Jollibee and he was so excited about my promise.

Now he is studying. He is in kindergarten and he is so smart. He joined track and field in his class and he won. He joined again with Mr. Pogi and he won again. And now he is the top one in his class. I am proud of him.

My Family and My Dream

Adel Ibrahim
Charlottesville Adult Ed ESL

am 28 years old, born in Iraq in May 16th 1980. I am a dentist. I graduated from Dentistry College of Baghdad University in 2003. Until my graduation I lived a quiet life, enjoying family, friends, and neighbors. It was a normal life that anybody can live. After my graduation I thought of many plans to do after that. One of these things was postgraduate study. After my graduation I wished to study for a master's degree or even diploma, because I like my job very much. I want to learn more and more about my study and about my new job as a dentist. Acccording to my country's health laws, I have to work for two years in order to be able to open my private clinic.

That was my first dream. But something happened that made my dreams go out. ACtually, many things happened, one after the other.

The first thing was my operation. In October 2005, I had to do brain surgery to remove a tumor on my pituitary gland. This operation obligated me to sit at home for at least one year for recovery. After getting better and being able to finish my dream, something else happened to me and my family.

This thing was my brother's death. This destroyed everything in my life and in my family's life especially my mother. She is still crying as if his death was yesterday and not two years ago. The worst thing in this is his wife and children. His wife is still young and she doesn't know what she can do to raise her children. She has two children: one son and one daughter. The worst thing in this story is that he couldn't see his son because his wife was pregnant when he died.

I was in Jordan when he died, so I couldn't see him in his last moments. I couldn't save him. I could have saved him and advised him to save his life. I felt guilty. Because of that I will not forget him. I will remember him for the rest of my life.

I will talk a little bit about my brother. My brother was a pharmacist, with his own business. His wife was a doctor. They were living a nice, quiet life with their beautiful girl. They were also waiting for a new member in the family, their son. They were very excited and happy for that. They were preparing everything for the baby: bed, clothes, and diapers, everything that the baby may need. When the first baby was born, I can't explain how happy they were. All the family was very happy, we were feeding her, playing with her, and we were living in happiness, love and security. But then it all changed before the birth of their second child.

Now after that, I should be more responsible than before. I should do everything I can do to make my mother feel better than before. I should make my mother forget or at least become better than before. I hope to do that very much. My mother now is my life. I can't live without her. I can't see her unhapy even for a moment, and I will do every thing to see her happy.

Now after all that, after all that happened to me and my family, I decided to come back,come back to my life, come back to my family, and come back to my dream. I decided to begin my life again, life full of hope and happiness, secure for all my family. I have hope in a better future, not just for me and my family, but for all the people in the world. I hope that very much. Thank you very much.

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Rosalba Saavedra
Charlottesville Adult Ed ESL Marriott

y son next year will go to school. He will need help. I speak English, but not very well.

I need other jobs that get out and finish early so I can go to school for English.