F 128

dsc04062The first time I was in F 128 was the day that I interviewed for my job. After the committee had asked me a set of 20 questions in a conference room, we moved to this classroom where I was to give a teaching demonstration. I had to pretend that the committee were ESL students, to whom I was to teach a lesson on thought pauses, one aspect of English pronunciation taught to ESL students.I remember liking the room that day because as I stood in the front of the class facing the “students “, behind them was a row of floor to ceilingrectangular windowsthat faced a large stretch of green grass and picnic tables scattered under several towering shade trees.

I have grown to love this classroom, having taught at least one class every semester in F 128.Sometimes, but not very often, I am in there alone. All the students have left after a class and I am putting my textbook and notes into my briefcase. Before I walk out the door, I take a long look at the empty desks and I remember students who have sat at those desks.I remember the blackboard covered with my handwriting, teaching them one thing or another. I remember their laughter, I remember their problems, their sadness. I remember students who always sat together, inseparablefriends. I remember the romances between students, resentments between students, the look on their faces when they passed a test they thought they had failed, and vice versa.I remember the young man who always fell asleep in thatlast desk in the first row. He was a cab driver… all night, every night.

From time to time I try to explain to an acquaintance about my students.I have learned over the years that it is difficult for someone who is not in my field to understand these students whom I have come to love and cherish.Over the years, I have written several stories about them in further attempts to explain them to others and, at times, to myself, if truth be told.However, I have never felt I did them justice.

Recently, in an advanced reading class which metin F 128, my students read a short story written by a man who was raised as a migrant worker, with his family moving from farm to farm, and the memoriesof both the good andthe bad of this experience whichin retrospect he cherished.The author was especially fond of the one cooking pot his mother had to feed her large family, explaining it in great detail to his readers.After reading this story, and discussing it in class, the students were asked to write a paragraph about an item that they remembered from their childhood or a memory from their childhood that they feel shaped them into who they are today.

Any teacher will tell you that the same assignment given to two classes will yield two very different results.This assignment with this class yielded wondrous results. After reading and rereading what my students  had written, I realized why all my attempts to explain them was in vain. Here, in these short stories, they had done it themselves in their own words.My intent in sharing them with you is that in reading their stories, they can touch your life as they have mine over the yearsin F 128.

My family and I have kept a video tape player for 17 years. My father bought it brand new. Since then, we have collected all the Disney VHS tapes, movies of all kind and even our own life in tape.Thirteen years ago, my family and I moved to Montreal.We took about ten suitcases, some bags and a box with the VHS. Three years after, we moved back to Venezuela.We took back our VHS to show family back home how was Canada.Our family did not have a VHS, so it was really helpful for us to have one. When we were there the video player started to have problems with the recording and also each time the tape was playing the player burned the plastic inside the tape.My sisters and I felt sad knowing that the VHS was not working well and that we would not probably see more movies or record any movies ever again. My father knew that we loved it and he decided to send it to a friend to fix it. I remember going with him. I felt so happy that we would finally have our VHS back to enjoy more movies and memories. My father’s friend fixed it cheaply and taught him how to fix it incase it breaks down in the future. Three months passed, when we finally left Venezuela to United States and I remember carrying that same box with the VHS that have brought us many memories. Not too long ago, we start seeing DVD and Blue Ray, but for my family and I our VHS will always be the best.

LoidaDongarra Venezuela

When I see oranges it remains me of Christmas. I would get them only in December because it was the harvest time for this fruit in Southern Russia. Parents would stay in line a long time so they could buy some for their children. I do not know why but oranges were sold outside of the stores all time. The streets were covered with snow and oranges looked so shiny. This fruit was a part of Christmas presents and a symbol of celebration. The smell of oranges was everywhere and it reminded people about vacation. The day before Christmasparents let us open our presents. Weran out on the street andcompared our oranges. Who had the biggest became queen or king of the street. I was queen all time because my uncle sent me oranges from Moscow. Boys and girls never had been in my position because they had actually a mandarin that much smaller than orange. But I had a REALORANGE which was sent by my uncle who bought it in Greece. Only one time I had been beaten by a new girl but she brought a grapefruit. Later we discovered this fake, and we dethroned her from the queen position. We were allowed to eat our oranges, but we had to return the skin to our mothers. They dried the skin and used it for cooking some cakes. I live in America now, but I give my neighbor’s children oranges each year making their parents confused. I just explain that it is a Ukrainian tradition and the parents smile and I am happy.

PS Mrs. BolandIf it ever snows in Virginia, put oranges on snow, it will look amazing.

Natalya RobinsonUkraine

One of the most memorable memories that I have from my childhood is when in my country, the Dominican Republic, we would have blackouts. Most nights all you would see were the stars and the moon. All of the children from the neighborhood would come out from their houses and gather up in the park that was across the street from my house. We would tell stories and riddles. We would laugh so hard that our stomachs would hurt. We would also light a fire and keep ourselves warm. Some of the older children would scare the smaller ones saying myths like the “chupra cabra’ would eat us if we misbehaved. I was part of the smaller children and that was scary when they would say that. We also had times when we would all gather and play hide and seek. Around Christmas time when everyone was asleep one family would wake up and take their instruments and go from one house to another singing Christmas songs and playing their instruments. They would stay there in front of your house until you came out or until you turned on the lights. Then you would join the group until everyone gathered together. We would go to the park in front of my house and light a camp fire and make ginger tea. We would stay there till morning and then from there we would go to church. I really miss those moments from my childhood.

Roxanny MonegroDominican Republic

My childhood was not bad, but it was not great either. Both my mother and father worked, and they made just a little money. My family lived in the city. The children went to school on weekdays. They did not need to work for money. Also, there weren’t jobs for the children. So we helped our parents doing the housework at home. There were six people in my family. Because I was taller and stronger then my older sister, my parents assigned me to work on the yard all the time. It was easy in the summer, but it was very hard in the winter because the temperature reached -15C at daytime. We used coal and wood for heat. Every weekend I had to make the wood and coal from big pieces into small pieces so it could be fitted in the firepot.I wore a very longwinter coat, thick gloves, a hat, a scarf, and a pair of big boots while I was working. After an hour, my feet were numb, but my body was already sweating. We had about twenty chickens. We sold eggs for a little extra money for our family. It was my job to go to a very far place to buy chicken food. I used a sledge to carry the food home. It was not easy for a twelve year old girl. We couldn’t have eggs every day. So two eggs would be my reward for the hard work.

Zhe WangChina

I am the last child of my parents. My dad was a farmer.When I grew up my older brothers had got a job and they were moved to the city. In our culture men work outdoors jobs only. After my eight years birthday I started working outside to hold the cattle. We had a lot of cows, ox, sheep, goats, donkeys, and horses. I was responsible to protect them to wild animals like hyenas and fox.It was very dangerous especially nighttime. After my ages of ten, I started working the farm with my dad and his employee. Farm work can bevery hard hours and long, often sunrise to sunset. I rarely had a day off. For all the the workdays I went to the farm early, my lunch and my book bag was with me because I went to school straight from the farm. I washed my hands and foot on my way with running water. There was no transportation from my village to the school. I walked one hour and half every day. I slept in class and I felt so tired at the time.Most of the time Sunday I washed my clothes in the river. My family they don’t know about homework and assignments. Sometimes it was hard to explain for them. I always woke up early with my mom’s hand clapping sound and I always remember that was the time to breakfast. I miss it.

Dawit HabtemariamMorrocco

When I seea chocolate which is shaped like an egg it reminds me of my childhood. The egg chocolate was little treats from my father. A little toy was inside the chocolates, and I used to collect the toys for treasure. My father was a very busy man. He used to come home from work after I went to sleep, and he left the house before I woke up. So, I did not have a chance to see him on weekdays. However, I did not miss him not much because every night he putted the chocolate on my bedside when he came home. When I woke up every morning, he was gone, but I received treats from him told “Good Morning”. My mother told me “Your father loves you very much, and if you are a good girl, he will give you a treat.” I always tried to be a good girl because I wanted to show my father how much I love him too. I also anticipated receiving the treats from him. When I was a child, I don’t have much memory of him, but Ifelt much of my father’s love because of the chocolates.

Sachiyo Browning Japan

I have an unforgettable memory that occurred when I was 7 years old. My hometown is a snowy area. However, that year was an extremely heavy snow. It was Tuesday or Wednesday in January. I went to school as usual.Because many snow tracks worked to remove the snow, the road was clean. However, I noticed that snow did not stop at all while I was taking the morning classes. At the lunchtime, the teacher informed that the afternoon class was cancelled. Therefore, I left the school. First I walked with 100 students.I was still comfortable although bad weather. After walked 30 minutes, half of students had already reached their home. When I reached my village, only several students were with me. Then I reached quarter miles from my home, but I was alone. I became fear because I could not see any footprints on the road. I attempted to walk several steps, but the snow was higher than my waist, and I stopped the snowstorm. I cried aloud, but no one through the road.However, the old woman who lived near the road noticed me. Then she invited me in the warm room. While I was eating mandarin orange, the old woman called my home. Then my grandmother came to pick me up. After that, I walked again the snowy road with my grandmother. There were strong snowstorms, but I was comfortable because I was not alone. Even though it occurred a long time ago, I remember when I walk on the snowy road.

YukiTakashimaJapan

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