Reflections from a Sudanese ELL

My name is Nyarot Bangout. I am from the Sudan. I came to the United States on February 17, 1996. Here, I finally met my dad who I had been separated from for four years.

When I first arrived in the U.S., I was amazed at all the lights, tall buildings, and the languages people were speaking. I also realized how much colder the weather was compared to back home in Sudan. When my family settled down here, I was signed up for school and was placed in the seventh grade, even though I did not know a word of English. Everyday I went to school and was teased by kids because of my color and the fact that I didn’t speak English. Life at this point was difficult. Sometimes, I would give up and say things like “I don’t want to go to school today.” I would come up with more excuses trying to escape from my biggest fear.

As things were getting tough, I turned toward the Sudanese English Project. At the program, I received help from USD volunteers. Weeks passed by and I was on my way to learning English. I began to attend the program everyday from 3pm to 6pm Monday through Friday. I was assigned to a teacher who only worked with me on my grammar and sentence writing. The program really helped me increase my ability to write and speak English. Now, all the teasing I suffered is nothing but meaningless words.