Jessie Wong is a talented, giving individual. She came to the U.S. from Malaysia knowing no one here and speaking very little English. It was a significant challenge for her. Currently, she is an important member of our Even Start teaching team, a program that she was once a student of.
Although not yet a citizen, Jessie is a declared resident and credits her adult school instructors, Kathy Sinner, Susan Gross, Sharon Fry and her first ESL teacher, Beverly Philips for giving her the foundation she needed to develop the self-confidence and motivation to take the risk of stepping into a new and unfamiliar world, setting goals and developing an action plan to achieve them.
Jessie and her husband have 2 children (son 9 and daughter 12) who have received that same support and encouragement from home as Jessie received at the Clovis Adult School. Both are GATE students in Clovis Unified School District and "doing very well in school" in the words of their humble but proud mom.
Jessie’s story: In her own words
My life was difficult when I first moved to [the] United States of America. Leaving my family members and friends in Malaysia was the great challenge for me as I did not have anyone that I know in the States other than my husband, his sister, and his friends. I knew very limited English because I was educated and conversed in different languages in my country. For the first six months in Fresno, I isolated myself in the apartment while my husband went to work. I was too afraid to walk out the door without my husband because I was afraid to meet people. I was afraid to have any interaction with others due to my language barrier. Life at that time was miserable. I was so home sick that I cried for weeks.
One day, my husband's friend came to visit us, and he told me about Clovis Adult School, a place for ESL learners to learn English regardless of their age. I was so happy to learn that I cou1d actually go back to school at my age. I would not have had such an opportunity to go back to school at my age in my country. Thus, he drove me to Clovis Adult School the next day to help me enroll in ESL class.
It was then that my life gradually started to change. I made some friends in the classroom who came from different countries. We shared the same experiences. We were new in town and we all wanted to learn English. The teachers at Clovis Adult School were the nicest people in town. They never put us down just because we didn't speak proper English. They always had the patience to listen to our broken English and tried to relate to us. They taught us to learn English in the right and fun ways. I learned a lot from them.
I stopped going to Clovis Adult School after I had my first child; later my son came along two years after my first one. I spent most of the next seven years staying home with my children. When my second child was four, I learned about the Even Start and CBET programs offered at Clovis Adult School. That was the perfect opportunity for me to go back to school to continue learning English while my son had the chance to be exposed and nurtured in a preschool environment with skilled, caring teachers and aides at the same time. I started to take my GED classes and prepare for the test while my son was on the same campus. I passed and obtained my GED certificate in three months. Later, I challenged myself to go further to pursue my education in bookkeeping/accounting and medical front/back office. Besides having this opportunity to learn all these great classes, I also got a chance to attend parenting class every week from Even Start teachers. Not only [had] I learned about different ways to approach parenting, I also enjoyed the interaction with other parents in class. We shared our experiences and viewpoints with each other which made me feel that I wasn't alone in the world.
Many people have said that America is the land of opportunities; people living in the States have tons of opportunities if they will take advantage of them when opportunities knock. I agree with them wholeheartedly. Not only did I find the opportunity to learn English at Clovis Adult School, but I obtained my GED certificate, learned various computer skills, and obtained certificates on bookkeeping/accounting and medical front/back office. Better yet, the Even Start coordinator, Vivian Simons, offered me a job at Even Start preschool as an Instructional Aide right on the Clovis Adult School site.
Today I am attending classes at Clovis State Community College to pursue my degree of Associate of Science in Child Development. I am very proud of what I am now because of all my hard work and all these opportunities that came to me at the right time through the Clovis Adult School. All the people that I met at Clovis Adult School helped me throughout my way to success. 1 couldn't express enough of my gratitude to them. I truly appreciate all the efforts and faith in me and encouragement from my teachers at CAE. Most of all, I am glad that Clovis Adult School was there to meet my needs as my stepping-stone to what I am now and what I am working to become in the future. Thank you Clovis Adult School.