“Let’s read a book”
“Alright which one do you want to read?”
“Green Eggs and Ham!”
My older sister and I climb into my twin bed in the room we share and I begin to read out loud. This was one of the many nights I remember reading books to her when I was about 5 or 6 years old. My mother came to the United States from the Philippines in 1982 just one year before I was born. By the time I was 6 she spoke English but still very broken. She never finished high school in the Philippines and came here uneducated. My mother met my American father in the Philippines, he was stationed there in the Air Force. They came to the United States in 1982 and sadly in 1984 my father passed away at the age of 27 from a heart attack. My mother was a foreigner and now a single mother with 2 girls. So as far back as I can remember my sister who is 4 years older was helping me learn to read, write, and with my homework regularly. I would read to her and she would read to me, and she would answer my 100 questions as best she could.
After my dad passed away my mom was working 2 jobs to support her 2 daughters, so of course my older sister got stuck taking care of me most of the time. As the years went by my love for reading grew, in 3rd grade I had a teacher named Mrs. Perkins. She was one of my favorite teachers. I remember we would break up into reading groups and I loved to read aloud. My teacher thought I was such an excellent reader, she asked me to be a part of the reading buddy program. In the program you read books to the special education children. I felt so happy and proud that she chose me to be in the program. So every week I would go to the special education class room and read all kinds of different books. This not only gave me a chance to do what I loved but it also gave me the opportunity to experience compassion and caring for the children I was reading to. One of my favorite books I remember from elementary was Charlotte’s Web, I read it at least 3 times. I also loved Matilda and The Witches. Roald Dahl was one of my favorite authors back then.
As my love for reading grew, I slowly began to enjoy writing. I enjoyed writing stories and essays. In the 5th grade we had a contest, we had to write an essay for the D.A.R.E program about why it is important to stay drug free. There were 2 winners chosen and I was one of them! I had to read my essay at an assembly in front of over 100 people. I was so nervous! I had never spoken in front of that many people before. The night before I could hardly sleep! I also kept a dairy and I wrote in it every day. A few years ago I pulled those diaries out and read them. I couldn’t help but laugh the things I wrote, but it was amazing to see my writing skills at that age.
When I was in high school, my love for reading began to take a turn. We started reading books I didn’t enjoy as much. I began to hang around the wrong group of kids and suddenly reading wasn’t as important to me as it once was. I began to rebel against my mom, I remember constantly fighting and arguing with her. When we would have an argument I would write her letters to say I was sorry, I always had an easier time expressing my feelings in writing then orally. I started caring more about hanging out with my friends and boys then I did about school, and naturally I fell behind. By my senior year I had to take night school and ROP just to graduate on time. I went from being a straight A student to barely having enough credits to graduate. But I was able to pull it off and I graduated with my class in 2001. And then 2 months after I graduated my life changed forever!
It was like a huge bomb dropping on me, all the plans I was making all things I wanted to do were now all going to be put on hold! I was pregnant. I was 18 years old young, naive, and had no idea what I was getting myself into. I contemplated my options but in the end I knew I had to deal with it, I had to take responsibility for my actions. I enrolled in community college I told myself even though your pregnant you can still pursue your education. So I took 2 classes that fall and when the classes where over I was about 7 months pregnant. In March 2002 my son Jacob was born, and he changed everything. My life had a new purpose I had to grow up in a very short time, and I never went back to school. I got a full time job to support my son, and worked my butt off!
When I got married in 2009, we were leaving for our honeymoon and I was at the airport book store. I thought to myself I can’t even remember the last time I read a book?? I mean a book I like to read, not Green Eggs and Ham, and children’s books I read to my son. I picked up the book “Twilight” off the shelf and purchased it. And believe me this was before the whole huge Twilight craze, I hadn’t even heard of the book at this time. I started reading the book on the plane and I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in two days, and when we got back I went and bought the rest of the series and finished those in a week. I could honestly say it had been almost 8 years since I had actually read a book, it felt good to do something again that I once loved so much! Since then I continue reading regularly, I love sci fi books. I have read all the Divergent series and Hunger Games series.
So fast forward to present time. A few months ago I was laid off from the finance company where I had been working for 13 years. I was thinking what is next for me?? I was talking to my sister one day and she told me you should go back to school, do something you really want to do, something that makes you happy. She enrolled back in college last year and is finishing up her classes to graduate. I thought long and hard about it and I took her advice. So here I am going back to school after a long 14 year break. My sister is my literacy sponsor, she helped me start on this incredible journey. And still today she continues to motivate me and push me to be a better person.