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Our readers write from Petaluma, California

(Editor's note: Teacher Frances Frazier sent stories from students in her ESL class at Petaluma Adult School. Their topic was "Immigrant Experiences.")

My immigrant experience

by Jana Posypankova

When I first came to this country I felt very excited. I liked the idea of living together with my husband after quite a long time.

I knew things would not be easy. I left my job and did not have any job offers because of not having a local license. I felt a little lost at the start. So I scheduled my first exam in June, 2016 and started studying. I have to say it was a really challenging time in my life. I felt extremely stupid and useless. I did not expect how studying in English would slow me down. I had to postpone the exam. I was a little frustrated, but I needed the extra time.

Except for studying I felt really homesick and friend-sick. Fortunately my husband introduced me to a few of his friends' partners who really helped me to survive the first months here. My English is still terrible, but I hope it will gradually improve.

And now I am lucky that I could join an ESL class and meet new interesting people and cultures.

My immigrant experience

by Anaberta Lopez

When I first came to this country, I felt very sad and frustrated because I left my family, friends, and everything here was very different. I felt alone because my husband works a lot and I didn't go out of the house because I didn't know where the stores were and I was afraid to go out by myself. I felt confused because I didn't understand English. All day I wondered why I was here. But after a while I started to feel better going out. Then I had my first child and I didn't feel alone anymore. Now I feel happy to be here.

My immigrant experience

by Maria Venegas

When I came to this country I felt very sad not to see my family in México and I also felt terrible when someone spoke to me in English and I wasn't able to understand anything. I did not want to go anywhere; I was depressed. It took me a long time to get used to this country and its cultures and traditions.

My immigrant experience

by Viridiana Olivar

I'm a 23 year-old Mexican woman, who came here four months ago to learn and practice the English language and what better way than going to a country where their first language is English.

I chose California because I have a lot of family living all around the state. I knew since the beginning that it wouldn't be difficult cause there is a big group of Latinos living here, and probably I have spoken more Spanish than English, but I have learned so much and I'm happy with my decision.

I flew to San Francisco and lived in a lot of cities while I was visiting family; cities like Lancaster, close to Los Angeles; Turlock, Union City, Hayward, Stockton, and Rohnert Park where I been staying most of the time. One of the things I first noticed was the big mix of cultures of all parts of the world. It has been fascinating that you are walking on the streets and hear people talking in different languages, wearing different types of clothing, having different beliefs, food, accents and everyone respecting that.

I have to say that I'm thankful for all the good treats that I've had in my visit. People have been nice, patient and supportive every time I try to figure out how to say something that I don't know how to translate. Everyone helps each other, wishes you a good day, and smiles at you. I don't know if it is because I'm always happy that I get the same responses from people, but I haven't met a single bad person or had bad treatment in any way.

One thing that I dare to say is that the USA is a country of crazy people, but crazy happy people, at least in California, and don't take it in a bad way. I mean crazy because if you want to do or wear or say something you do it, and you don't mess with the craziness of others. You respect how people are, something that I wasn't used to seeing. From where I am, Mexico, we attempt to point at the differences, to look at them weird and make them feel bad for being different.

You love dogs, animals, plants and anything alive, and there are rules for teaching you how to respect these things.

Since I have to tell you as much as I can about my experience being an immigrant, I have to tell you about how it has been with the elections and the new president too.

There come hard times for this beautiful country. A lot of bad comments and bad decisions have been awakening bad behaviors in people against immigrants. I haven't suffered any of this but I'm afraid that if I experienced it, I wouldn't know how to react. I'm afraid of getting back to my country and the immigrant department taking my visa away just because the president says it. And then I couldn't come back to see my family or friends again. I'm afraid that the people, who are not legally here who I love, could suffer something in the future like this.

But I admire all the strength and resistance of the people. This is making them stronger and I'm sure that Americans will never give up to racism. They will keep on being the land of freedom and opportunities.