From The Blog

Life Experience

by Tony Yan

People always say time is fleeting. I think if I haven’t experienced this situation by myself I would not be able to tell you how true it is. I am a senior at JMU. It is quite surprising that three and a half years have passed since I first came here. However, I have a feeling that I am not ready to graduate from a university yet.

Honestly, this would not be the first time that I had this thought. I have to say it was always there but just on a subconscious level. Somehow, this thought became stronger and stronger with graduation getting closer. Finally, I noticed it, and I realize I need to do something about it.

The reason that I hesitate to graduate is I feel I missed something in the past three years. For the most of semesters I was just struggling to complete all kinds of requirements. Somehow, I already took a few extra classes, however I have not had enough time to take more biology classes. Now, my question is: how could I study biology more while I can?

I discovered there are many options for my future career however I do not have enough time to prepare for them. First, as a biology major, the upper level classes are quite interesting and challenging. I want to not only get a great GPA for my degree, but also actually learn something from school. Second, there are lots of graduate programs in the US for biology students. In order to apply for them, I need to take the GRE. Third, as a pre-pharmacy student, I am eligible to take the PCAT and go to pharmacy schools. Or I could take the Pharm-Tech so it will be easier for me to get a pharmacy-technician job compared to those who haven’t taken it.

However, all of these options are related to one problem: time limit. Theoretically, I only have one year left in JMU. Therefore, it is not practical for me to take all the biology classes and also finish all three tests I want to take. Right now, the bigger problem for me is most of the graduate programs have application deadlines from December to January, no later than early February. This means I need to use my school time to prepare for the tests before the deadline. I am afraid if I rush to do all things at once, it will either hurt my GPA or would ruin my test scores for my applications, or both.

Overall, my decision for now is based in doing my best in upper level biology classes because my major is my true passion. One possibility is that I will attend summer school or one extra semester to take more biology classes. This schedule would also give me extra time to take all the tests that I want to try. Perhaps, more time would let me think through what my future career will be as well.


By-Shirley Yang 

Even though I feel more confident than old me when just enrolled in JMU last semester, the confidence just fades away when communicating in academic forms. The first semester of sophomore year, I have started taking some fundamental business classes as my step stone to the major. Professors’ teaching style is kind of special because he likes to put students at the center. The more you contribute to the class discussion, the more participation points you will get. It is convenient when you have problems. The way to solve it is by mentioning questions in the class and then professor guides students to think and talk about the problems.


I realize that having a problem in the homework is normal but doubting myself is distracting. I remember one time, I asked the question in the office hour. My Professor said it’s a great question and he encouraged me to ask it again in the class. He asked me if I could do that, I said yes without doubt. In the class, when he turned to me and said, “I remember you have a question”, and then I felt everyone is waiting for me to ask. I asked that question but my heart was pounding after I finished the asking. When the teacher answering the question, I feel as if someone in my head starts questioning me: are there any mistakes in your sentences? Professor already approves that question, so it’s not a dumb question. What do other American students think? All of the questions in my mind are distracting me.


The reason why I’m so nervous when I asked the question in the class is partly because I am afraid of being judged. Not only judging language imperfect, but also the mistakes I made. When professor asked which quiz questions we want to discuss, I figured only students who get higher points are willing to pull up their results in the class. When his or her quizzes show on the screen, everyone could see how the students did in the quiz. This way pushes me to be quiet in the class.


Another reason maybe because of different teaching style. I still remembered in my high school, teacher always acted as the main role in the class. Even though the learning style is passive, I like it because I only need to listen. When I have a question, I would save it and asking my teacher in the office hour. Now, I still follow the same rule that is going to my professor’s office to ask question.


When I went to professor’s office, I asked my question and he asked my why I don’t like mention it to the class. I expressed my concern to him. He said he understood it and he thought the way of reviewing quiz is helpful for the exam. Doing well in the quiz doesn’t mean you will do well in the exam. The more mistakes you made in the quiz, the more questions you should mention in the class. I guess our students put too much interpretation on how much points we get from the quiz while no one really care how exam and quiz actually function.



by Jose Morales


I can’t believe it has been three years. Three years. That is one year short of a presidential term. Yes, it is hard to believe I have been working at the ELLS for so long, yet It all makes sense in retrospect. I have worked at the learning centers since sophomore year, back when I lived in a tiny apartment (yet waaaaaaaaay cleaner than my current house) and my parent’s had just given me my bicycle as an early birthday present. Kristen still had her office in Wilson Hall, and she did not know yet that she was allergic the the iconic building. It was back in that office where I had my very first job interview, and yes, fortunately I scored the job.

It was Friday November the 9th, and I was getting recognized for being a valuable tutor. I had never thought of myself as “valuable” or “outstanding”, let alone a “servant leader”, and yet as I was being recognized in the tutor recognition ceremony, I couldn’t help but to feel a little sense of pride on myself. Not selfish pride, rather something along the lines of a more healthy feeling–perhaps, content. Working at the ELLS has been a great opportunity for me to grow as an individual, as a student and as a future professional. I’ve presented at conferences, I’ve ridden a train to Baltimore in “business casual” attire, I have talked with the Deans of JMU, I have represented the learning centers at multiple events and trust me, it all feels pretty good.

And yet, the award is not all about me. I have to thank JMU and the Learning Centers and Kristen for being quite simply: awesome. I wouldn’t have done any all of those things if it had not been for the opportunity they gave me to embody one of the roles I admire the most : that of a teacher.

And so to that I say, thank you. Thanks to all who have come to me eager to learn something new. No award means more than an honest “thank you” at 6 PM  when the lights of Taylor Down Under have dimmed and It’s time to pack up my “English Conversation Club” sign within the messy insides of my backpack.

By Jose Morales

I remember hearing the words “flat soda” in a sentence once and not being able to comprehend the logical reasoning behind such expression. Was it even physically possible to flatten soda? I knew soda was mainly a liquid which meant it would take the shape of its container. So, when my friend Mike Elliot said “I don’t like to drink flat sodas” back in my High school sophomore year, did he mean to say he didn’t like to drink sodas from a flat surface, such as the floor? It was not up until I timidly asked for what he meant by “sodas that are flat” that I knew the real meaning of the expression. So let me tell you, reader, what it means for a soda to be flat. According to my friend Mike Elliot (and probably 99% of Americans) a flat soda is when a soda is no longer “fizzy” or has lost its carbonation. So know you know.

I love talking and teaching about american slang words and expressions and their meaning to english language learners. I love it because for one, i think to myself “Gee, I’m getting good at speaking ‘merican” and also I love to feel as a resource for students as JMU–especially with matters like slang words which are not completely academic in scope. However, some students would argue that slang is a crucial aspect within the college classroom experience. A student that attended conversation club last week timidly requested, 10 minutes before the session was over, if I could spend some time explaining the meaning of some unknown expressions she had encountered in her student-life; to what I responded “Of course not! I love answering this kind of stuff!”

After that incident last week, I decided that English Conversation Club will touch on the teaching of american slangs (at least 10 minutes each session), so if you want to learn more come! (info about Conversation club is on this website under “services”)

Also, I thought it would be appropiate to share the expressions that the student had questions on, plus some I thought should add as a bonus ;)

So, here it goes:

1. Half and half: this expression can refer to two different things that you will be able to identify depending on the situation. If you are at a fast food place or restaurant you could ask for half and half, and the employee at the restaurant would then serve you a glass that contains an equal amount of lemonade and Iced tea. Hence creating a drink half lemonade and half iced tea.

the other situation you might encounter this term is to describe the cream substance that people put in their coffee that is half cream and half milk.


2. “Get a life” : this is a modern term that must have emerged around 2008 or so? Anyway, that is usually used to let someone know that they are so interested in something that they forget to do anything else, therefore reducing their “life” experience to just that activity.  for example,

John got a new video game and he did not do anything for the next three days but play it until he was done. His roommate Andrew thought it was too much and told him “John, dude, you need to get a life. We should go out or something”


3.“No way, Jose”: goofy expression that exists just because it rhymes. however this expression can be condensed into “no”.


4.“No rush“: expression used to tell someone that they should not hurry. That whatever is that is being talked about is not urgent.

for example:

Olivia: “Hey could you send me our homework for next week via email?”

Ben: “Of course, just let me finish reading this book”

Olivia” Definitely, no rush!”


5.Forreal: combination of the english words “for” and “real”. The expresion means that something is serious or legitimate. Also, when the expression is paired with the conjunction “though”, it conveys a sense of honesty on what has been just said. For example,

“Wow that is a really nice bike, forreal though.”

“I think I will fail my class. This time forreal.”

I will write blogs about expressions and slang words as much as i can and also, like I previously said, talk about them during English Conversation Club.

Note: If you ever hear an expression that you do not understand and need to know its meaning right away I recommend going to and looking it up! I still use that website sometimes.



BY-Shirley Yang

“Ok, that’s it for today, thanks everyone. Have a good weekend.” After Dr.Wang says that, I take a deep breath and start packing with an excited mood. My friends are waiting for me and we will go to UREC to swim. After five days being bombarded with assignments, finally I can have a short rest. Short rest, it is only half Friday afternoon. You may think there is a whole weekend waiting for me. But I have to disagree with you, a weekend with dozens of homework and preparation for the incoming tests of next week, that’s not called weekend. I don’t want to worry too much because the reality is there no matter whether I’m concern or uncertain. That’s the mission for us students, college students.

Actually, this makes me think. The mood of looking forward to Friday, the pressure of different due days from different courses, the constant updated blackboard announcements bring me back to my high school. The high school where I studied in China is highly reputed in my hometown. The number of students who got into Tsinghua University, which ranks the top in China, is quite high compared with other schools. The competitive environment makes students breathless. I still remember my school routine, getting up at 6:30am and arriving school at 7:20am, going back to home at 10:00pm which sounds pretty insane. Thinking back to my horrible high school time, I am more relieved and satisfied with current college life in JMU even though I suffer the same study pressure.

Every job has missions; everyone has their own difficulties when they are eager to conquer tasks. We students are not exceptional. I just think this weekend is going to be a study weekend and Carrier is going to be my place. I just want to say this schedule brings me back to my high school time. It is kind of like self-comfort, but anyway, I am ready to go for it!!

by Jose Morales

This past Monday I held the first English Conversation Club meeting of the year (by the way, If you’re reading this and want to improve your speaking skills I would highly recommend coming down and hanging out!) and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the bulk e-mail advertising my service worked! Two fine young men approached me that cloudy afternoon, looking for help and advice to improve their conversation skills; and so I asked them to sit down and we got to it.

As our conversation progressed, I noticed that their English was not in any way elementary; their sentences were well constructed and the pace in which they articulated their thoughts was very much average. I began to think that maybe they didn’t need my help, that maybe they would get bored because they wouldn’t learn anything new from me. I thought, perhaps I should tell them to just watch movies and they would learn new words that way; but before I could reach a concrete advice for them in regards to their speaking, one of the guys interrupted me and was very forward about what he needed help with.

“I would like to be able to explain things better” was what he told me. Confused I asked him to, ironically, explain himself, to what he elaborated a little further and told me that he wishes he could be more creative when he talked. His was not a matter of verb conjugations or tense concordance but a matter of confidence and exploration of the English language.  Looking retrospectively at my own English language learning experience, I—somewhat conceitedly—admit I have done a great job at exploiting my linguistic abilities; but how did I achieve such a high level of prose and proficiency in my language? Why is it that I can now write a poem a fictional story not only without a problem but also with a deeply personal catharsis?

I think the answer to those questions rely on two important personal factors: the depth of your linguistic immersion and the confidence to just talk without dreading mistakes. I always tell students to immerse themselves in the language as much as they possibly can in as many media as they can. Personally I think books and literature are a great way to explore both the abstract and concrete capabilities of a language, and movies are a great way to learn how to engage in a somewhat average conversation.

The confidence bit is not as easy, however, for it needs motivation and fearlessness. I remember when I moved to the United States that I made many silly mistakes when talking to my American peers. And the crazy thing is that, despite my funny mistakes, they understood why they happened. People usually know you are not from Alabama or California and they expect your English to contain some minor mistakes but do not worry, they won’t judge you, in fact they night even help you! these mistakes will happen and they will make you feel slightly embarrassed but they will also be your greatest teachers.


by Jose Morales

It is not unusual for me to catch myself deep in reflective awe of the beautifully profound underpinnings of education. The sole process of it excites me. Education, to me, is the way our species transmit their cultural and intellectual consciousness across media and through time.  From this perspective, the economics and policies of education lose their conventional place to a modern blurry abstraction; education becomes something more natural and inherently human rather than just another policy or statistic.

On June 28th and 29th I had the great opportunity to be part of the CAA Global Education Conference which reminded me of the intellectual altruism that binds collegiate staff and educators. The conference consisted of a variety of talks geared at a specific area within global education. I attended a combination of talks that ranged from international student services to English language teaching and I was amazed by the level of professionalism shown by some of the faculty that presented. I loved the enthusiasm they had presenting and sharing ideas to other faculty and how they discussed educational issues to hear the opinion of other educators from a different institutional perspective.

As the conference went on, I learned many tips that I will try out next semester with English Conversation Club, but I also taught other educators about my experience with the ECC. I absolutely loved answering all their questions and concerns. Many schools have conversation programs for international students, but they tend to stick with the one-on-one model which either works or fails if the relationship of the conversation partners does not work out. They were interested in the English Conversation Club as an alternative to their conversation programs because they liked how it operated and thrived within a low-pressure environment, and with a group open to a broad cultural discussion without the need of a common language learning interest (from part of the native speaker). Hopefully there will be more versions of my English Conversation Club in the CAA or maybe even abroad!

Attending and presenting at the CAA Global education conference taught me valuable lessons and gave me insight into the academic world ahead of me. I returned home admiring how hard many professors work to foster education and how important and honorable it is to partake in the collective effort of strengthening the human knowledge as an educator, simply by letting others know what you know.

BY–  Shirley Yang

Vocabulary ^^

Tangy: little sweat but little bit saucy

Douse: pour different liquid

Dose: for the amount of medicine taking

Conveyor: something moves from one place to another place. (conveyor belt)

Drop-off: E Hall, places where put the dishes to be cleaned.


Goal:  Focus on details

I felt little bit nervous and confused when I just walked into E Hall with my roommates. I saw different types of food were presented at the entrance of the door. I know that I will be challenged by American foods, I heard that those foods contains high calorie, high protein, less nutrition, just fat. Well, from my mother’s warning, like do not just follow by your desires but what sort of foods are healthy. In that case, gosh, it was my first time to try American vegetables.

The vegetables usually are fried or steamed or boiled for Chinese style. However, I was so surprised that America just eats the raw foods with the different types of dressing. There was a question for me that how should I choose for the dressing, as they called. I feel like they are just exactly same. I don’t know their name, but America just choose what they prefer, just douse them. So I just followed what they did, but actually it was really really strange for me. I felt embarrassed that if I look the labels on different bottles. So when I picked my vegetables that combined with lettuces, beans and carrots randomly grab one of them, pour it to the “salad” like an America. After that, I doubted about the taste of vegetables when I finished my selection. But the consequences were exactly same as my expectation. The taste was unbearable that I was not even finished all of them. When I took the unfinished foods to the dish drop-off, I felt guilty but also concern I will say goodbye with the vegetables in America. I hold my breath when I put my dishes on the conveyor because the smell was chemical that made for disinfecting.

I realized that America eating foods usually in a simply and fast way, like salad. My favorite home cooking dishes in china called stir fry tomatoes with eggs. Basically every Chinese students miss it and capable of making that dishes. However, America just like eat vegetables without cooking, probably they think the nutrition would be lost.

After writing this short essay, I just realized how I miss Chinese foods.!!



By Ahmad Abdul Ali

My academics during sophomore year were a deciding point whether I can accept the challenge that honor program put forward. I knew it would not be easy to make it through this year because I was taking challenging classes such as organic chemistry and bio-chemistry. I was actually excited and looking forward to taking these classes. Unfortunately, I had to go through some serious social reforms. My freshman year I met my best friend. We both had a passion for medicine and were hard workers. We planned to be roommates for the upcoming year. However, there were some aspects of our friendship I was not comfortable with.

Even though I was a freshman, I was more mature than most of my peers. This is due to my experiences living in various countries and the fact that I am the oldest sibling in the family with responsibilities such as contributing to the income of the family and being a guardian for my sister and brothers in school. When I started college I had to carry these responsibilities over and keep helping my family to progress. In addition, I needed to keep my school performance up. Therefore, being a freshman I already had a lot on my plate but my best friend excluded these factors from our friendship. Also our cultural background differed greatly. However, his perspective was understandable in that as a freshman students party and enjoy college life. Even though I did have some exposure to such life, I could not afford to spend most of my time doing this as my friend did our first year of college. Thus, all these factors in our friendship started altering our relationship but I still enjoyed his company and hoped that maybe over the summer break he might change his attitude and become more mature.

Here we are our sophomore year moving into a new apartment and leaving behind college dorm life. I had spent my summer participating in the SMDEP program at Yale University and had time to explore myself further and learn from it. Surely enough I had changed dramatically. What I had valued my freshman year I no longer valued. I hoped to see the same in my dear friend. Unfortunately we were diverging from each other further and further. What he valued was not valuable to me and it was true the other way around. Even living in the same apartment it was difficult to see each other due to our busy schedules. The only time we interacted with each other was on the weekend but that died out too because the group of friends we hang-out with was different as well. All these factors weakened our friendship bond and ultimately ended our friendship, which I think was good for both of us.

I came to James Madison University (JMU) as a transfer student from a community college. I was not qualified to be a sophomore due to the lack of credit hours. However, I was not a freshman so it was strange to adjust to JMU at first. I used resources at JMU in order to progress in school. Every week was a learning experience at JMU and the more I learned the busier I got. Each semester I challenged myself to work hard. Because I believe that life is a journey and college, graduate schools, or any professional schools are preparing one for that journey. Thus education can be seen as training camp to prepare.

During my sophomore year I discovered the JMU Honor Program. This news raised an interest in me, so I started investigating to learning more about it. There are several benefits from this program but the one I find most seductive is the purpose of this program to challenge students academically, which is exactly what I wanted. Unfortunately I needed to pass several barriers in order to be qualified for this program. These barriers were challenges in their own right.

There are two paths one can choose in this program to achieve the same destination. First is to apply to the honors program as freshmen and take all required honors classes. Second is to apply as a junior and write a thesis during last two years of school. Sadly, I was not qualified for either of these paths because I was a sophomore and my GPA was not high enough to be an applicant. The challenge I faced was to raise my academic performance before I can accept the challenge that the honors program proposed. Moreover, I needed to find a mentor who would guide me through this process. I already had a plan in mind. I wanted to connect my previous experience working with United States Geological Survey and the JMU Chemistry Department to achieve success. These challenges are indeed time consuming.

One of my wise professors Mr. John asked of my future plans and I told him that I want to become a physician. He was not surprised but he warned me that I am not going to have the same free time as other students. He said it is for my own good. Indeed the old man was right, but I do not regret missing out on some aspect of college social life because I don’t see that as a challenge.

By Yuky Yu

I went to the bathroom to get a cup of water, put a plastic bag in front of the mirror, and brush my long hair. As I looked into the mirror, a girl held a pair of scissors in her right hand, and then, put the scissors down. I dropped the scissors when I suddenly realized that today was the second day of the Chinese New Year, the biggest and longest festival in China. According to my mom, if I cut my hair in the first month of the lunar year, her older brothers will die sometime soon.

It is ridiculous, isn’t it?

I still remember during one Spring Festival when I was in junior high school, my mother was irritated with me because I kept asking her to allow me cut my hair. She is not a foolish woman, but she does follow ancient Chinese myths. Probably my Grandma and Grandpa, even her Grandma, impressed upon her all of the traditional myth, which is kind of a discipline of her family, as well as thousands of other Chinese households.

But it’s not true for me. I am a skeptic with advanced and scientific thought, educated in modern schools which are totally different from those my mother has attended. I don’t believe cutting hair in the Spring Festival will harm my JiuJiu (uncles). And I am pretty sure my mother knows that it is impossible since she is a smart woman with average knowledge about science.

However, I still dropped my scissors. I packed my simple stuffs for hair-cutting, and poured the water down the drain. “Yeah, it is the first lunar month in China, I don’t want my JiuJiu to fall on evil days.” I said to myself.

It is obvious that my mother will never know whether I cut my hair or not. She will not criticize me any more about that, at least not when I am at JMU since our school doesn’t celebrate the Spring Festival or give us a break. It is also obvious that I am not foolish enough to believe in superstitions. Actually there are a lot of similar myths such as the hair cutting one, and I have the right to break or obey those disciplines because I am now away from home. As a college student with secular ideology, I get enough freedom to make decisions on every single thing in the most scientific way, if I like. However, acculturation is distinguished from assimilation, as stated by Berry in Globalization and acculturation. I dropped my scissors and make my mind to cut it the next lunar month.

I make up my mind to cut my hair because my new environment encourages me to do so, although, my mother will want to kill me. In America, JMU, the open culture influences me a lot. I can argue with my economics professor even in class; I can write something against government if I find it meaningful; I can talk to professors as they are my friends. Not only in academic, but also in daily life, I see a lot of girls dressing up in the way they like, and doing what they really want to do. They don’t have much concern about other people’s opinion, including their parents’. They have their freedom in choosing major, choosing boyfriend, and choosing hairstyle. So what should I do?

It is not easy for me to decide to cut my hair, my shining, black long hair. Many girls envy me and many guys like my hair. I have been keeping my hair long for three years, and I know my hair is lovely too, which is the very reason why I want to cut it. I don’t want a boy to like me because of my appearance and not my personality. One reason why my mother doesn’t want me to cut my hair after the three years of it being long is that she wants me to be an attractive girl. It sounds disturbing for me. Since I am relatively well-educated and mature enough to make decisions for myself, I made up my mind to cut my hair, breaking her restriction on me. As stated by Tardif-Williams and Fisher, “Problems in differential rates of parent–child acculturation are thought to occur when children begin to acculturate to the new cultural setting more fully and rapidly than their parents, a process which can result in the gradual divergence of cultural values and perspectives among different generations within immigrant families.”(Tardif,501). Exactly! Just as I and my mother do, we have different opinion on cutting my hair. But why do I hesitate for three years simply because she doesn’t want me to cut hair? Why do I drop my scissors spontaneously?

I yield, because she is my mum. Our relationship determines that any decision opposite to my own idea is influenced by her. Most of the cultural things in my head are taught by her. She has a strong tie with traditional Chinese habit, and she tries to pass it down to me. If it’s not my mother but other friends tell me “don’t cut your hair”, I will definitely smile and tease him or her and say: “do you fools believe in superstition?” But I will not ask my mum, “why do you believe in the myth?” I can’t say that to my mom, and many times she can’t answer all my questions. I can’t say that and it is no longer necessary for me to find the answer. Mother is mother, and culture is culture. I yield to her and the complex culture behind her but this doesn’t mean I am a person without my own ideas and values but simply mean I love her. She cares a lot for her family, her brothers, and I should care what she cares for as well. She leads me to be a cultivated girl, and I know if I don’t do so she will feel sad. Now she is away from me, but I still care about what she thinks. Wherever I go, I am still a member of the big families to which I belong.

I yield for I am Chinese after all. Although I have made up my mind to cut my hair, I will do it next lunar month. I am in a university in America; we celebrate Christmas but not the Spring Festival; I eat American food and speak English everyday…But the fact of being Chinese doesn’t change, no matter how many hamburgers I eat. According to Berry (2005) , acculturation “at the individual level, [it] involves changes in a person’s behavioral repertoire.” (Berry, 699). That’s true. The process of absorbing new culture in different environments involves a mental change. However, no matter how much change occurs in me, I still am Chinese from a typical Chinese family. I listen to my mother’s suggestion most, and I respect my parents more than Americans do.  I am from a country where you should not drink coffee in class; you should say something nice to relatives in festivals no matter whether you hate it or not; and you should never cut your hair at the first lunar month. I can’t change the cullture because they are flowing not only in my memory but also in my blood. So I can’t totally change my blood into another type, which excludes culture, even myth.


Works Cited

Berry, J.W. “Acculturation: Living Successfully in Two Cultures.” International Journal of Intercultural Relations 29.6 (2005): 697-712. Elsevier Science. EBSCO. Web. 12 Feb. 2011.

—.”Globalization and Acculturation.” International Journal of Intercultural Relations 32.4 (2008): 328-336. Elsevier Science. EBSCO. Web. 12 Feb. 2011.

Tardif-Williams, C.Y., and L. Fisher. “Clarifying the Link Between Acculturation Experiences and Parent-child Relationships Among Families in Cultural Transition: The Promise of Contemporary Critiques of Acculturation Psychology.” International Journal of Intercultural Relations 33.2 (2009): 150-161. Elsevier Science. EBSCO. Web. 12 Feb. 2011.

By Cecilia Enriquez

Coming to the US was a big change for my family and me, everyday we learned something new from American society. We arrived at my uncle’s house, where we stayed for a month, and then my dad decided to find a place for us. He rented an apartment and we moved there with nothing but our suitcases. For my brother and I, it was fun to live like that because we usually said that we were camping. Little by little the apartment started looking like our home. Later my brother and I took a test and went to school, he entered to middle school and I entered to tenth grade of high school.

High School
A new different experience was high school in the US, I felt lost and unprotected  every time that i was there. It was so frustrating to not be able to communicate and understand my teachers that I cried every day when i came back from school. My dad always encourage us to be strong and continue reaching our dreams, he sat with me after he got off from work and talked to me. For me, my dreams and plans were clear and even before I came here, I remembered  I told my dad that he will not regret coming to US because i would go to college with a scholarship. My plans for the future and my dad encouraged me to continue, I stayed after school almost every day to read, and understand books that were probably for elementary school, but later I started to stayed with my teachers to understand the subject and i joined a group where they helped me with my pronunciation. Talking in English was harder for me because my peers made fun of how i talked, but this experience did not stop me from learning English. By the end of my senior year I completed one of my dreams that was going to college with a scholarship.

By Kouadio Koko

“Prevention is better than one pound of cure”. Prevention is something that we take for granted at all levels, individual, community, even at political level. However, prevention is very important in our daily life and can change many things around such as preventing diseases, plan for future to avoid catastrophic situations.

My motivation to be a public health nurse is that it is a specialty which promotes good habit in order to prevent diseases and its related complications. As a nurse I think prevention is the cornerstone to prevent diseases. Therefore, all communities need to understand why prevention is important.

Back in Cote d’Ivoire which is a developing country situated in West African, poverty is a concern. The country itself is rich. However, the resources of this country are not used wisely in the in benefit of its population. As a result, it is not unusual to find the inhabitants work hard to get just a daily bread for themselves and family. In addition, to the hard work other people health condition is very poor. Communicable diseases are more prevalent because there is low health literacy due to education level, and lack of health profession in all area to promote health.

By Ahmad Abdul Ali

It was Friday night and the night that I was most afraid of.  It was a night where you stand out and face your fear.  I have joined martial art club when I was in seventh grade. At the beginning my dad was against it but later he changed his mind. First two weeks was the most important ones, the one that will determine if you are really capable to spar. It was most difficult first two weeks of my summer when I joined the club.  Every Fridays we had sparing which was like a test but where you were tested physically and mentally. The policy was that you must attend sparing unless you have a good excuse. I had hard times the first two month but I got better every week. Even after three years I did not feel that I fought like a professional fighter because the whole point was not to win the fight but fight artistically and use your brain.

One day when my master could not train us for a short time, he replaced himself with his best friend. We used to call him “new master.” He was very confident and knew what he was doing. One thing I noticed about him that he always wrapped his hand with tape. I was very curious why he did it, so I decided to ask him. It was the end of the training he was about to close the gym. I helped him around with cleaning. As we were talking I asked a question about the tape and he told me that he was a surgeon and cannot have rough hands. I never imaged him being a surgeon and being an excellent fighter as well. From that moment on he gave me motivation to achieve my goal which is to become a surgeon but still keep my passion for martial art.