An Immigration Experience

By Chiara Fusi, ESOL StudentChiara Fusi - for blog

I was thirty-seven years old when I strongly believed that my life was perfect because I had what I had been dreaming since my teens. I was highly educated, with a satisfactory job, a lovely husband, and an awesome one-year-old son. However, I found out that my life was just a soap bubble: perfectly round and enchanting, but extremely thin to last forever. Indeed, it popped when my husband and I expatriated because he was offered a job position abroad. It meant a big step ahead in his career, a great opportunity for my son to become bilingual, and a sacrifice for me, but I believed that I was flexible and strong enough to adjust easily to the new life.

Unfortunately, I had underestimated the expatriation hardships. As soon as I arrived in the U.S., I had to deal with daily occurrences such as opening a bank account, getting a driving license, and buying a car. Then, I had to face minor health issues and parent-teacher conferences at my son’s school. I had always managed these situations easily, but some understanding problems and a lack of vocabulary made them very difficult in spite of all the efforts I made to be prepared. When I finally realized that I could not even build a network of friends, I was overwhelmed by a torrent of negative feelings. I felt frustrated, disoriented, isolated and vulnerable like a two-year-old child.

While my certainties were sinking, my son was the motivation that kept me afloat, and the Jefferson County Adult ESL program in West Virginia was my lifeboat. I joined the program to improve my English, but the benefits I have had are more important than a larger vocabulary, better pronunciation, and higher fluency. I acquired knowledge of the American culture and history, and this helped me get over the culture shock. I regained the self-confidence necessary to communicate comfortably in social settings, and this contributed to accelerate my son’s adjustment. I studied the phonetics that allow me to help my son learn to read. I improved my reading and pronunciation so much that I could facilitate my son’s English learning process by reading to him. On top of it, I have found a volunteer position that makes me feel involved in the community.

Likewise, my classmates think that the ESL program is important for immigrants because it helps them to improve their families’ opportunities, write a résumé, apply for a job, prepare an interview, qualify for higher paying positions, become naturalized citizens, and learn about labor rights so that their employers cannot take advantage of their lack of knowledge.

small wordpressbuttons_red3small wordpressbuttons_red2_3small wordpressbuttons_red

8 Responses to An Immigration Experience

  1. Mary Posa says:

    Chiara, Jefferson County, West Virginia is so proud of you!!!!

    • Mary Posa says:

      “After three years of living in the U.S., the new soap bubble that surrounds me is ready to move to the Middle East for another immigration experience. I am aware that the new culture shock will make it burst, but I feel at peace because in this move, I have one more suitcase full of experiences that made me stronger, and the ESL program is part of this.”

      Chiara, here is your closing paragraph that was omitted. Thanks for pointing out to me that it was cut off. I do like the way it refers back to your opening paragraph.

      Many women around the world experience what you have experienced and which you will experience again. I can only imagine how grateful they feel to see their feelings put into words by another mother and comrade.

  2. Araceli Mendez says:

    What an inspiring story! And such a beautiful picture!

  3. Steve Quann says:

    What a beautiful crafted essay. The following line is just one example: “While my certainties were sinking, my son was the motivation that kept me afloat, and the Jefferson County Adult ESL program in West Virginia was my lifeboat.”

    This line captures how others can be supported by adult education classes. There is real value in being able to keep afloat such a talented and productive person in our country. Welcome and may the future for you and your family be as bright as it seems destined to be.

  4. Julie Study says:

    Congratulations, Chiara! What a moving essay. I think many parents will appreciate your description of how family members, both young and old, support one another. Your story captured that support in a very deep and meaningful way.

  5. Sharon Simon says:

    I am a West Virginia Adult Education instructor and I was alerted to this story from an email. It is wonderful to read how this student was helped in the Adult ESL Class, but she has helped others much more by sharing her story. Others will read this and find their way to help, and teachers will feel motivated to make sure they offer as much as they can to their students. Others will feel her strength and find their own. Thank you so much for a beautiful story.

  6. TAB says:

    What an encouragement to others, I am also in an adult education program in WV and have found it to be a wonderful experience. The instructors and people are so uplifting.

  7. Michelle Hughes says:

    Chiara, congratulations on your achievements! Keep up the good work!

Share Your Own Story

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *