An Electronic Dictionary

Relationship: Im/migrant

When I came to the U.S. from China 16 years ago, I brought a simple electronic dictionary that could translate whole sentences for me. After I came here, I felt that life was hard here, because everywhere people spoke only English. And I didn’t even know how to pronounce any word. I couldn’t understand when people talked with me when I first arrived and that made me regret coming to this big and beautiful country. When I was looking for a job, I went to the companies or stores that had help-wanted signs on the door. Even work for a sales person in the store, almost all of them were the same, because all of them asked me did I speak English or not. In fact, when people asked me that, I felt scared and annoyed. After that, I started taking English classes at a place that opened a class for adults in the elementary school at the community, and just learned the basic English words. I used my dictionary every day to translate the words that I didn’t understand. And I tried to be brave to talk with English-speakers while I was learning. Despite how tired I was after my work, I still used this dictionary to keep studying English. It was convenient when you need help translating the words because it didn’t need to connect to the internet. I gradually became better from what I learned. And I was very proud of myself when I could understand someone who was speaking English very quickly. Now I don’t feel regret for coming to this country. This dictionary represents my struggle.

Place(s): China
Year: 1999

– HuiXin Li

Relationship:  Im/migrant Im/migrant