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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators

I am not an outsider

Striving for a successful school experience in America

By Sophia Tadeo, Orangeview Junior High School | May | June 2021
I look up at my dad, and I see his eyes were full of tears.
“Be good to Mama and Papa, OK? Daddy won’t be home for a while, so don’t wait for me tonight. I love you so much, my child. Always remember that,” my dad says as tears roll down his cheeks.
Those were the last words I heard from my dad before he migrated from the Philippines to America. I was only 3 years old at that time. Once I turned 5 years old, I found out the real reason why he didn’t come back that night: He migrated to America since there are more job opportunities there. I was upset that he left me, but I soon realized that it was for my well-being. Three years later, my dad came back home and told me that I am moving with him to America. This news surprised me.
When I realized what my dad said, I hugged him, and we left the Philippines two weeks later. My 8-year-old self didn’t know how much her life would change after that.
My situation became difficult here in America once I started going to school. I remember on the first day, I could barely introduce myself and barely had any grammar. When my teacher was saying instructions, I could not understand anything she was saying at all. During recess and lunchtime, I remember being so confused about everything. In the Philippines, we do not have recess, and we stayed inside our classrooms for lunch, so this experience was all new to me. Sadly, people in my school often avoided me since they knew that I did not know how to speak English very well. I was lonely in my first year here in America.
The feeling of loneliness damaged my mental health. My performance in school was not the best. The lingering feeling of being an outsider to everyone and not capable of communicating with anyone started to make me doubt myself. The piles of failed test papers, low scores, and the disappointing feeling I had for myself ruined my whole first year here in America. However, I thought of why I agreed to come here. I wanted to show people that I am not an outsider.
I started my improvement the summer before fifth grade. I went to the library once a week to read books, I watched many American shows to help fix my accent, and I would communicate with my cousins to improve my communication skills. Once I came back to school, many of my classmates noticed my improvement. I soon developed many friendships with people, and many teachers were impressed. Everything was starting to get less challenging, and I was slowly starting to fit in.
My classes were not as difficult as before. I was able to keep my grades up, and I slowly started to enjoy school more. This is my way of proving that, even if I am an outsider in the eyes of the government, I am no different from people who wish to be successful in life.
Sophia Gaiel Tadeo attends Orangeview Junior High School in the Anaheim Union High School District.
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