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“The Odyssey of Joshua”: A Student’s Story

December 4, 2019

I teach senior English.

I noticed that one of my students, an English language learner, was reluctant to complete complex written assignments. He appeared to throw up his hands as if to ask, “What is the use?”

So, I asked him, “Will you write a paper about you? Will you tell me your story?”

He thought about it for a moment, then nodded in agreement.

Below is his unedited response, which he has allowed me to reproduce.

His name is Joshua, and this is his story:

The odyssey of Joshua

In the power of a strong kid that have to face problems of a new life. This show how a kid get in to a new era and have to adapt as his new life changes. In the course of the time we get to see how he struggled and fight emotionally. His view of everything in overall is bad. The feeling of homesickness and a new languish is the key point of is problem.

In the beginning Joshua was happy whit his friend in Puerto Rico until one day he get the news of a storm hitting Puerto Rico. He thought that it was going to be a regular storm but it was not. The storm was one of the biggest storm that ever hit Puerto Rico. By this period of time he did not have school, water, or light his aunt seeing this situation in U.S Louisiana she deicide to call her sister(Joshua mom)to tell her to move in whit her. Joshua mom despair she say yes and Joshua is not very happy about this decision. Josh he start to get a litter bit upset because he have to leave his friend and everything that he ever know to a new place that he do not know about .

Is November 7, 2017 Josh and his family arrive to Louisiana he start to think how this is going to work out new country, new languish, and new house. The day pass and the put Josh back to school let put this like this new people that speak a different languish, and different cultured. Josh knowing a litter beat of English and the fear of not speaking correctly English he try to talk a litter as possible. It is hard for Josh to make friend because he scared of people making fun of him of how he speak. He do not feel comfortable by expressing himself to people.

While the days keep passing Josh have this litter time to think about why did he have to move he have allhis life back in his country he just want to go back and be whit his friend and have fun whit them. Josh talk to his mom and he tell her that he want to go back that in the first place he do not wanted to move to come to a new country and adapt to new rules, school, and people his mom tell him that she make the best decision for them and she wanted a change in her life Josh having respect to his mother he decide to stop the conversion and try to see the good side of this new chapter in his life. Josh still not satisfy with the place he start making friend but he still try to avoid conversations. Meanwhile Josh friends in Puerto Rico are getting better and in back to school they try to reach Josh he get the massages and he start to feel better. A year has pass Josh now know more English and he start to talk more to people Josh have job he has friend and he is still not want to live in Louisiana but he start to accept that the this is his new life and he have to take the best out of this new experiences.

Josh has learned that opportunities in life are life changes and that you have to take the best out of it. Joshua has grown mentally and socially he has open his main to new opportunities and to learned more about life. Josh myth not be realizing at the moment the sacrifices that his mother have to do to for him and for his future but he show that at the end he know that she did this for him. He make friends and his slowly losing the fear of speaking to people.

As Joshua’s senior English teacher, my goal is to understand where Joshua is academically and move him forward all while valuing him as a human being.

Such is my goal for each of my students.

I thank Joshua for allowing me to publish his work.



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Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

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  1. Thank you, Joshua! I will be sharing this with some of my students, who also struggle to write. They have to write in Spanish for my classes, and many of them get frustrated because Spanish was their first language, but they don’t feel strong writing in Spanish. I hope that they can see themselves as strong and bilingual and that they can appreciate the process of learning and accepting challenges, like the act of writing!

  2. Jill Reifschneider permalink

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing, and for doing what you do for Joshua and his peers. They are our future.

  3. Christine Langhoff permalink

    Made me cry; so many of our students’ largest challenges are outside our classroom doors.
    So glad to know that Joshua is in your kind, strong, competent and loving care, Mercedes.

    Please pass this message along to Joshua for me:
    Joshua, te admiro por tu fortaleza en seguir adelante. Espero que ya no sientes tan solo aquí en los Estados Unidos. Sé que saldrás bien, con la ayuda de tu maestra y tu nuevos compañeros. Espero que el Año Nuevo te trae paz y nuevas amistades.

  4. pwtx23 permalink

    Thank you.

  5. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Josh. One of my best friends is from Ponce, Puerto Rico. She is a vet who works in a 24-hour care facility, mostly for dogs and cats, in Cincinnati Ohio. During the hurricanes that devestated the island she managed to send vital supplies to her family. She would certainly understand your difficulties in leaving home and the path ahead in becoming bi-lingual. You are on your way to fluency in expression and you have some important things to say. You are lucky to have an exceptional teacher now and a wonderful human being.. Thanks for allowing your writing to be posted.

  6. Daedalus permalink

    First, this was a great assignment. Thanks, teacher.

    Secondly, Josh is already a great writer. A tiny bit of light editing would help (was ‘litter’ meant to be ‘little’?) Other than that, I found his work to be astounding.

    Should Josh try to ‘master English’? I actually think that if this were written in ‘perfect English’, it would have lost much of its impact.

    Tell Josh to write, and write, and write in the way he now does. Tell him to write about trees, and mountains, and his homeland, and everything he can think of, but do it NOW (before he loses his gift). He should write thousands of pages before he forgets this his current naivete. Later, he can worry about ‘perfect English’ and even later how to recover his current genius.

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