The following two stories are written by adult learners of English as a second language in Saint Paul. The stories are from Journeys: Stories and Poems to Open Your Mind, an annual collection of student writings compiled by the Minnesota Literacy Council.

David C. Martinez


By David C. Martinez

The United States is a wonderful country where anybody can have many opportunities to grow up. That’s why the eyes of many people around the world have focused on it, especially the ones who don’t have the resources to be here and those who have that dream of Martin Luther King, the dream to be or do something good for your family or your fellows.

These people left their families, houses, jobs, and their roots to jump the border illegally to have a little piece of the American dream. Our government asks why all these people, complete families, emigrate from their countries?

There is only one answer: in our countries of origin, democracy, liberty, and opportunities to feed our children do not exist, and corruption is everywhere. The only solution is to find the good things somewhere else, and the only place is in this beautiful country, the United States of America.

Trinh Ngo

The Story of My Life

By Trinh Ngo

I was born in 1972 in a small town in Vietnam. I grew up there. When I was five years old, I started in kindergarten. I finished high school in 1987. After that, I helped my mom’s business. I still lived there. In 2003, I met a good man. He lived so far away from my country. I knew him through my uncle, and one year later, I became engaged with him. We married in 2005.

I came to the United States with him. He lived in Minnesota twenty-nine years ago. He is a U.S. citizen. He is a machinist. He is a good person. Two months later, I got pregnant, so I did not go to work. So I need to go to school to learn more English, because English is my second language. I cannot drive a car, so I had to take the bus to go to school during my pregnancy.

Now I have a child, and I still go to school with my child. She is eleven months old. Her name is Lisa. She now crawls and she holds onto something to stand. She does not walk yet. She has four teeth. She can talk—Ba ba, Ma ma—and she imitates what someone does. It looks like monkey see, monkey do. So I’m very happy. I have my husband and my daughter, and we live together in my home. I have a happy family.