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I Learn Library

A human library inspired by the stories in the film

People can learn a lot from our stories

By Safiatou  |   From : The Bronx  |   School : MACS H.S.

Childhood

I grew up in France, in a town called Nancy, which is the capital of the north-eastern French department of Meurthe-et-Moselle. It is next to the German border, not far from Paris. France is a very multicultural country with immigrants from the Middle East and Africa. In France, they speak French and other languages like Spanish and Arabic. The people in France are gentle and beautiful like gold and diamonds. I used to live with my grandmother, who was my mom’s mom. I lived with her because my parents were both in the United States. Have you ever had someone love you like a mother? My grandmother nurtured me like I was her own child. My favorite memory from childhood was when my friends and I went to the zoo together. The first thing that I smelled was animals. I heard animals crying like babies. I wanted to touch the indigenous animals because I didn’t think they would do anything bad to humans. I remember tasting ice cream, which was so creamy. I also tasted chips, popcorn, candy, cake, and other junk foods. My grandmother never let me go out with my friends without taking some food with me because she extremely disliked when I would ask my friends for things that she could get for me. I saw people were taking pictures with the animals, but some people were running away from the animals because they were scared.

Exodus

I found out that I was leaving when my grandmother told me that I had to go to the United States embassy. When she told me that, I thought she was joking because I couldn’t believe it. Since I was little, I used to bother to my grandmother about my desire to go to the United States to see my parents and to learn about the United States. After all that I couldn’t wait to go to school and tell my friends and my teachers. I especially couldn’t wait to tell my principal because he used to talk to me about how it was very important to travel to different countries and learn different cultures because it would help you learn the difference between your home country and other countries. A couple months later, I started preparing for my exodus. I started buying stuff you wouldn’t be able to find in the United States because each country has their own culture and things that belong to them only. I took the important things that would help me when I got to the United State. I packed by choosing all the things that I liked most, like my shoes, clothes, and books. I started calling my friends, my teachers, and my family. Finally, at the airport I said goodbye to my friends and family by hugging them and telling each one of them to take care of themselves. When I said these words, my best friend started crying like someone had died because she thought that it was the end of our friendship and that we would not be able to see each other again. I felt sorry for her because she did not have any other best friends but me. I left her by herself, which means I left her without any best friend. My friend was gentle toward everybody in my family and my other friends. She always wanted to go out with me and she always supported anything I did. She was a really good friend and she was the one that I would miss most.

The Crossing

I left France to go to the United States on June 11, 2013. I went with my two older brothers. One thing I still remember is that in the airport I didn’t want to leave my family and friends because they were the most important people in my entire life. I also remember that when I got onto the airplane I did not look around to see what the airplane looked like. I also did not think about anything but my family and friends. I thought it would help me one day to explain things to my friends and my teachers when I went back to Paris. This is how life works—you are always thinking about your families and friends. I have lived in the United States for two years now. I am happy that I crossed into the United States because I have learned a lot of things about the United States, like the culture, important information, rules, and other things. I also learned the difference between my old country and the United States. For examples, in the United States we hug each other when we say hello, but in France we faire la bise. This means that we kiss each other twice by touching our cheeks.

Into Another Land

When I first came to the United States, I went to New York because my family was already living there before I came. Guess what I used to about the United States when I was a child. First, I thought in the United States they only spoke English, but now I know that they speak a lot of different languages. I heard different languages from the people who also immigrated to the United States, like Spanish, French, and other African languages. I also thought that the United States and my old country would be really similar to each other, such as transit, buildings, and school. But when I travel to the United States, I learned that a lot of these things are a little different. How did I feel when I arrived in the United States? I felt smart because I got to learn about different cultures and lifestyles. When I first came to the United Stated, I saw a lot of people from different countries like Latin America and the Caribbean.

A New Life

My new home in New York looks better, but it did not look like my old home in France. In my old home, we used a lot of decorations to make it more colorful and beautiful. I used to have a lot of decorations of the iron tower, la tour Eiffel. I felt a little bit mad because I didn’t have all the decorations like my old home, but now I feel wonderful. How did I feel when I first started school? When I first started school, I didn’t want to go because I didn’t know how to speak the language. Some students started making fun of me for my actions and the way I tried to speak the language. It didn’t make me feel sad or mad because it was not my fault. I was a new comer and it happens to all the newcomers who don’t speak the language. I didn’t have any friends, so I was trying my best to makes new friends because I really wanted to speak to them so they could help me with English. After all that, finally something really important happened to me: I started trying to speaking the language so I could start making new friends and gain independence.

Shade and Light

Since I moved to the United States, my language has changed because I started to speak more English than French. I feel a little disappointed in myself for trying to forget my old language. Something positive that happened to me when I went to the United States is that I learned about the difference between my two countries. Why is it important to travel to different countries? I feel powerful now that I have come to the United States. People can learn a lot from our stories because we can see the differences between us.

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