The Road to America

    Self-Portraits and Essays by ESOL Students

    January 9--January 22, 2006

    Reception: Friday, January 20, 2006

    6:30--8:00 pm

    Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts




    This year, for our joint project with the FSU MoFA, ESOL students wrote about their own immigration experience to the United States. If they were born in the US, then ESOL students interviewed their parents and wrote about their parents' experience. To illustrate their essays, students created self-portraits depicting a scene from their travel experience or they depicted themselves among their family members. The theme of this exhibit is related to the museum's upcoming exhibit "High Roads and Low Roads" (February 17--March 26, 2006).

    The following students participated in the exhibit:

    Awas, Briana, Cynthia, Enrique, Heidi, Jhonder, Jingzhao, Jonathan, Jose G, Melisa, Neema, Oscar, Othman, Rafael, Richard, Rosa Isela, Rosa Maria, Serafima, Teodoro, Yahya

    The following students attended the reception and participated in the museum's "Make and Take" art activities:

    Jingzhao, Rafael, Teodoro, Richard, Cynthia, Briana, Oscar, Melisa, Neema, Benito

    To read some of the students' essays, please see below:

    The Road to America

    My Outer Journey


                To get ready to come to the U.S, I went to my school to say good-bye to my teacher and my friends. They gave me a card, a necklace, a bracelet, a ring, and perfume.

                Then, I went home to pack all my stuff. My aunt, my uncle, and my cousins drove us to the airport in three cars.     

                I flew on the airplane, but I was scared. My mom said, “Don't be scared.” On the airplane I listened to music by Harlly Duff, watched television, and colored in my coloring book. I ate shrimp and rice and drank Coke.

                When I came to Tallahassee, Florida I was lonely because I didn’t speak English. I started a new school called Pineview Elementary School. In my new school I made few friends with Rosa Maria, Rosa Isela, and Mariam. But now I have more friends.                         We decided to come to the U.S. because my dad had a job here. It was his chance, and we had the immigration visa for the first time in 2002. But my dad came alone because my mom was pregnant. Then she had her baby and the school year finished. But at that time we discovered that our visa was expired and we had to have a new one. This new visa took us two years to be completed.

                When we moved to America, we prepared a lot for it. We had to take our files from school. Then we took these files to the Ministry of Education next to the embassy. When we finished our necessary papers we had to fly for eighteen hours from Jordan to New York. Then we flew from New York to Orlando. It was a very expensive trip and very tiring. My dad picked us up from there.


    My Inner Journey


                I felt so nervous and so excited at the same time because I was going to a new world. It was the first time I flew on an airplane.

                I felt very sad because I left my country, my friends, my teacher, and my extended family. I like the school here because it is easy. In Jordan the school is different. It has seven subjects like math, science, Arabic, religion, social studies, hand craft, and English.

                When we arrived, I was happy to see my dad and my aunt. My dad was already living here in the U.S. I was happy because I was going to come live with him.



    The Road to America: My Parents' Journey


                My parents came to America because life in Mexico was hard. They wanted a place to live. They came here to work and get money. My mom was sad about leaving her family.

                My mom and my dad took their packs and got on the bus. When they were Ieaving Mexico, they said good-bye to my uncles and grandparents.

                They went to sleep on the bus. Later they ate some ham. It was also cold inside the bus. They came from Mexico to America.

                Now my mom works at Pollo Tropical restaurant at FSU. My dad got work building houses. My mom and my dad now get more money so they can buy food and some clothes. They also found a good house. My parents became happy living in America. My sister was born in Tallahassee in 1995. I was born in 1997.           



    The Road to America:

    My Outer Journey


                Before my journey to America I went to my school in Mexico.  I said good-bye to my friends and teachers.  I told my friends and teachers that I am going to America.  I felt sad because I had to leave Mexico.

                I packed up my clothes and belongings in one suitcase and left my grandparents' house because I was going to America.  I said goodbye to my grandparents, two aunts, and two cousins. We were all sad.

                My dad came to America because in Mexico there is little work.  My dad said, "I think that if we go to America I can find a job."  We came to America by airplane. My father came first. He walked three days and three nights to Arizona. My dad was sad so he left Arizona and came to Florida.  In Florida we moved to Tallahassee. There my brother and I enrolled in Pineview Elementary School.  At Pineview, I was sad because I could not speak English.  I could not understand the people and this made me sad.  When I got to class I found out that my teacher spoke Spanish and this made me happy. Seeing that two children also spoke Spanish made me happy.   My dad speaks English at home. This helps me with my English.  In school there is an English program where I learn English. I like the program.


    My Inner Journey


                I was nervous when I came to America because I did not speak English.

    I told my friends and teachers good-bye because I was going to America.   I felt sad because I was never going to see them again. I was sad that I said good-bye to my friends but I was happy I was going to see my father.  I was excited to be in a new place.  My father did not speak English and he did not know a lot of people.  My dad felt sad after he left Mexico because he was here for five years by himself.  My family has been here in America for nine months. I am happy because over here I have my grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, brother, mother and father. 




    My Outer Journey


                My mom and dad decided to come to America because they got accepted into University in America. One month before the journey our mom told us that after this month we will move to America. My dad was already in Tallahasse.

    We were happy because we were going to a country that is good and many people were talking about it.

                 We packed our clothes into suitcases. We bought 4 more bags for carrying things that people had given us such us t-shirts, caps, etc. We brought our own toys too.

           We went to the embassy to get our visas and we bought our airline tickets. I told my school that I would be traveling to America but other students did not believe me because my family was not rich. I said good-bye to my teachers and my classmates. I also said good-bye to my grandparents, uncles and cousins. Leaving Tanzania many people cried about our departure. We hugged each other.

                At the airport I was so scared to board an airplane because I usually ride buses and cars. We said good-bye to all the people who came to the airport with us. Then we went inside the airport. We passed many checkpoints. The airport people checked the weight of our bags. This was Tanzania International Airport (T.I.A).We got on an airplane that was called Swiss Air. Our trip was fun because behind each seat there were small computers. We played games and watched movies. We did not have any problems. We stopped over in Zurich and we got breakfast. Then we went back to the airplane .We flew to Miami. When we landed my younger brother was still asleep. My mom told him to wake up. When he woke up he was acting crazy. He was flailing his arms and yelled. I think his legs were hurting him. The flight attendants took him to the room where they keep injured people. Because I was not there I did not know what they did to him.

                We arrived at Miami International Airport at 8:42 p.m. We found my dad and his two friends.  We drove all night. It took 8 hours to drive from Miami to Tallahassee. Because I was asleep I did not feel that the trip was long. We reached Tallahassee and thanked God by praying. Two weeks later my dad took me and my brother to school at Pineview. We have been here ever since. My dad studies at F.A.M.U and my mom studies at F.S.U. In America life is better but it is expensive.                    


    My Inner Journey


           Before the journey I felt happy because I was going to a big country in the world. But also I was sad because I was leaving my friends, my uncles, my sisters and aunts. I was also amazed because I thought it was like a dream but I trusted my parents.

                During the journey I felt confused and scared because 1 day before the journey on CNN we saw a French airplane crashed into the ocean.                    

            On the airplane I felt surprised because the airplane was the most beautiful I have ever seen. I did not feel bored because there were many fun things to do like playing games, listening to the radio, watching movies, eating and drinking a lot.

            At the end when we were about to land I felt scared because my brother woke up like he had become crazy. When that was happening, my mother took him to the room for injured people. I felt happy when we landed because my brother was okay.  I felt happier when I saw people clapping and when I saw my dad.



    The Road to America

    My Journey


                This is how everything had happened on my journey with my family.

                Well, I have a twin sister and she's just like me.  She's in the same grade like me and she looks just like me. She's the same age like me too. Her name is Rosa Isela and my name is Rosa Maria but I really hate my first name and I bet she does too.

                I have three brothers. Their names are Pedro, Abraham, and Martin Vargas. One is 21 years old and he's the oldest.  Martin is the middle brother and he is 19. Abraham is 17 years old and he's the youngest. The three of them act and look the same.

                 "Okay this is the beginning of my story".  Two or three years ago, my family and I were at our house in Mexico.  My mom was reading a book. My sister and I were playing with our cousins. Then, my mom heard the phone, ring...ring... My mom said, "I'll get it.” I asked my mom who was on the phone. She responded, "Your brother Pedro." Pedro is the oldest brother. He went to the U.S. when he was 13 years old.  He went to California with my aunts. They are from Mexico.

                Then, I asked my mom "What does my brother want?" She answered "Be quiet!" When my mom finished talking to my brother, she looked confused. So I asked her, “What's wrong?” My mom decided that we were moving to Tallahassee, Florida.

                We were moving the next month. "Why so fast?" my sister asked. Mom answered, "I really want to see your brother and your aunt."  So the days passed and passed. Then it was time to move.

                First, we went to say good-bye to my grandma and my aunts too. After that, my other grandma took us to El Paso with her. Then the next day, my grandma took us to the bus stop.


    During the Journey


                The bus ride was a day and a half long. It was so boring and quiet. On the bus we could eat and in the bathroom it was stinky. When I entered it, I had to cover my nose. I was hungry and wanted to eat something. I was mad because my mom didn't let me turn on the air condition or the light. We stopped so many times that I became restless and confused.

    When we changed buses it was much better. I was tired of seeing the same things.

    I was playing hand clapping games with my sister. On the bus I was just thinking about what it would be like to be in Florida, who my classmates will be and how the school will be. I was feeling nervous and scared. I asked my mom, "How long will it take to get there?" She said, "A day." I said, "I hate this journey, I wish this nightmare would end!"


    After the Journey



               When we arrived in Florida I was so confused because every thing was so different and everybody talked in a funny way. My Aunt Lupe took us to her house. We stayed there for about one or two months. I was bored and my cousins were very mean. They spoke in  English about us. So my mom decided to move, and we moved to another house which wasn't very far away from my aunt's house.

    Later, my aunt took us to Wal-mart so she could buy us some clothes. Then she got everything we needed and we left. My aunt took us to Quincy. In Quincy my aunt knows many people. We went to a store, La Mexicana. It is a Mexican store and they sell Mexican food. My sister and I bought candy. My mom got food and fruit.

    On the first day of school every body was asking me, "What's your name?" I said, "Que!" and a girl said, "What did she just say?" We went to lunch and I got my food and said in my head, "Que es esto?" “What is this?

    Every day when I went to school it was hard for me to understand my teacher. In my English class my teacher read a book and I said "Que digo?" What did she said? But now I can read a book and speak English because of my teacher. I learned a lot of things on my journey.