Value System/Student Response
Immigrant Stories/Immigrant Lives
[Editor’s note: The following exercise was given to students in the Revere Community School ESOL Level 2 class. The responses of the students are recorded after the rendering of the exercise]
During the course of the school year, in an English class taught by a devotee of education for liberation, the students will be reading books in which the main character goes through a major turning point in her life; specifically, what is called “the transition from childhood to adulthood.” Always Running (Luis Rodriguez) has gained enough favor to be included in public school curriculum around the country for the last twenty years. Night (Elie Wiesel) has been on the required reading list of high school English classes for half-a-century. Assata (Assata Shakur) has not been allowed, but the community teacher will sneak it into the classroom, and spend time on it. In each of these books the main characters, the authors, go through this growth process.
One distinguishing feature about this transition from childhood to adulthood is the development of a belief system or a value system. A value system is the set of principles by which a person guides her life.
As the development of beliefs which guide one’s life is one indicator of maturity, this process does not always coincide with the years usually associated, in this culture, with childhood to adulthood — 15 years of age to 22 or 23. It may come at a time of deep trauma or drastic occurrences which bring about this development. Some would argue that there are many human beings walking around in their forties or sixties who have never really become adults — they have no system of beliefs, they live by no principles, and remain childlike.
There are four characteristics which determine whether a principle is part of your value system:
First, it must be freely chosen by you;
Second, it must be a positive affirmation. It cannot be a statement about what you do not like or what you think is wrong. It must be a statement about what you value;
Third, you must be proud of it and not scared about it; you must be able to say it to other people; part of the proof that you believe in it is that you can articulate it to others;
Fourth, you must be able to put it into practice. It is not part of your value system if you can only say it — you must be able to live it.
Amplifying on element #1: When as a child your parents bring you up as a Christian, this cannot be said to be genuinely part of the child’s value system. It was not freely chosen by the child — a child cannot freely make such a choice. When in adulthood this same adult-child has made the decision to live by Christian principles, to engage in her daily life the practice of living a Christian life, only this, the adult choice, can be said to be part of this person’s value system.
Amplifying on element #2: To say that one is against misogyny is not the expression of an aspect of a value system. It does tell us what you do not like, but to be part of a value system it must be an expression of what you are for — if you act on the belief in the value of women’s leadership, for women’s equality, and of women’s liberation, this is an expression of your value system.
Amplifying on element #3: When 9/11 hit U.S. daily life many Muslim Sisters, who normally wore Hijabs, took them off of their heads. They did this in reaction to the vicious attacks on Muslim women, who were identified as such by deranged White nationalists because of their Hijabs. This does not mean that these women were hypocrites for taking off their Hijabs. They still wore them in their Mosques and in their homes. They still practiced Islam. This element of a value system requires that you can articulate it to someone. If your principle cannot be told to any other human it cannot be said to be part of a lived value system. I am a communist. I would not be employable were I to announce this life mission — that the working class shall be the human race — to every prospective employer. However, I live daily as an internationalist (communist), and all of my loved ones know that, like many of them, I am a communist.
In a four or five paragraph essay explain what may be emerging for you as the set of values which guide you, or the principles you are considering to guide your mission in this life. (1) How did you arrive at these values? (2) State the values in clear terms, using complete, grammatically correct, English sentences. (3) In what ways is your behavior determined by these beliefs — how are you living out these values in your daily life?
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In What do you Believe?
I believe in God. He is everything for me. Also, I believe in the power of prayer. Everything is possible when you believe.
I believe in the family. I believe in loyalty. I believe in unconditional and infinite love that exists between us, because the family is always present in the good and bad moments of our lives.
I believe in my family because it’s thanks to them and their example that I believe that I can make this world better.
I’m from a small town in the most beautiful country in the world, Colombia!…
It’s a nice place; the life is easier there, you can still see the kids playing in the streets, people always greet you with a warm smile. If the rest of the world could know my people, my town or my country I know they would love it.
Luisa Fernanda Laiton
My name is Aline.
I’m from Brazil.
When I was born, I was rejected by my parents. Since then my grandfather raised me as a daughter.
When I reached maturity (18 years old) I had to follow my life alone.
My grandfather left my family to live for a very distant city, and a few years later he passed away.
The education and love I received from him made me able to study and acquire a good profession in Brazil. But since I was a child I had a dream of living in America after I had my life stabilized in Brazil and being able to work with children here.
I’m living here for 8 months, I have no family with me, but I carry with me the love of God, which helps me to face the difficulties that any immigrant like me faces living here. I believe in love, I believe in Jesus, at the cross, and I believe in forgiveness.
And your sacrifice makes me believe than I can be better than I ever imagined being.
Hi, my name is Maria from Guatemala. I came to United States from Mexico in the year 1985. I came to San Diego and I was excited and I felt scared, because everything was new for me.
My first job was as a babysitter, and I was living with my aunt in Oxnard California. It was very difficult for me to be separated from my parents. Every day I felt sick listening to only English.
In December of the same year I traveled to Boston; Massachusetts is a beautiful state. I Married here and I have 3 kids. I am happy with all my family now; thank God for that. I’m trying to learn English a little late for me, but it’s ok. Sometimes I feel frustrated because I did not make the decision to learn English earlier. Before coming here my life was very different. Thanks to my teacher for your help to teach me English.
My name is Eglal Ahmed. I’m from Sudan. I live in Revere, and I am 22 years old. I came to the USA with my husband. I love the USA because the life here is very easy; different from Sudan where life is more difficult.
I am not working now. I stay in my house, take care of the home, and I go to school.
I believe that Allah is the one who has given me the opportunity to be here, and if I put my hopes in him, everything I want I can have it, if it is his will.
And I say thank you to Allah for all.
There are two phrases in which I always try to keep in mind at all times.
The first is:
“Respect all others doesn’t matter gender, religion, culture, social position, etc” The idea is always to maintain respect for everyone and at all times.
And my other value that I like to put into practice is:
“Don’t do unto others what you wouldn’t want them to do unto you”
If we use these values you can keep everything good without any problems with everyone.
My name is Fermin Antonio Valle. I’m from El Salvador. I’m 25 years old now. I live in Boston, Massachusetts.
I believe in freedom, in hope, in divine justice. I believe that we should always stay together, and help each other. These are values my father and mother taught me, and I believe them today. They said, we should help the needy and feed those who don’t have anything. They said, and I believe them today, that we should lift the fallen, and that we should be the light for others who are stuck in the dark. I believe we should always break the limits, know that law, and break its limits so that we are able to do great things. We should always be focused on helping others and give everything for the poor people.
I would like to do much more. If it were to become necessary, I would give my life to not see so much wars and injustice and death.
Finally, to challenge indifference, I believe that one day someone will come and do divine justice.
Fermin Antonio Valle
Hello, my name is Alexander. I am a good guy. I am 38 years old. I have lived in this country for 5 years. I have not been bored here.
When I left my country, Colombia, I only thought about staying 5 years, buy a house, make a good amount of money so that I could go back to work in my country. These were my goals; but now all that has changed, I do not have the house. I do not have the money. However, I have a wife and a beautiful daughter who I love with all my strength. Now my priorities have changed. The thoughts or goals I had when I left my country are now behind me. Now I must fight for my family, the family I have here, and move forward with them. It is about building my new future, next to my daughter and my wife.
My name is Francoise. I’m from Haiti. I am 27 years old, and I am married. I have two kids. I don’t work. I want to learn English in class.
I believe in living God’s life, in the Holy Bible: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
But the earthquake hit Haiti, January 12, 2010. I am thankful for my Husband who saved us. Thank you God for providing me with a good family.
My name is Glenda I came to the United States 10 years ago. I didn’t know about the life in this country. A month after I arrived I started working in the afternoon cleaning the kitchen of a restaurant in the basement with a lady who already works there cleaning.
The weeks went by and the work became heavier because the lady no longer did all her work. She had me do her work while she sat eating kiwis.
One day my boss called me. I was very scared. My head was spinning with thoughts of many things I was not doing well in my work. But the surprise was that he had seen the cameras and saw how badly the lady treated me!
He gave me a position in the main restaurant to welcome the customers and supervise that everything was in order in the restaurant. I was very happy. There were more hours, but the hours were perfect for me to work and go to English classes, while my boss and my coworkers trained me in the basic langauge I needed to use at work.
I worked 4 years in that nice restaurant. Later, God blessed me with my first child to my life. I left my job with a lot of pain in my heart. All has been going very good with me. Except for the lady who mistreateed me (she left 3 years before me; I think she remembers me as I am from her same town), I miss my job a lot. But, I would not change anything. All these years I’ve spent taking care of my family full time; and here I start again studying English with the teacher and classmates who I like as much as my work.
Who truly love us never leave us? There is One who is always here 💝*. No one can go back and start again, but anyone can start today and create a new ending. It is never too late to start.
This is my Values, what I believe in.
I used to live in Medellin Colombia, now I live in Revere for about five months with my husband who I met when we were five years old. He was my neighbor.
He came to this country when he was 14 years old. We met again after 15 years of not seeing each other. And we are now happily married.
I left my country, my family, my Job in Colombia to start a new life with my husband who is a gift of God.
I believe in God, I believe in his love, I think my life is happier with God on my side.
My name is Deysi, I’m from El Salvador. I came on July 4th 2016. It has been very difficult for me to find a job, while in El Salvador I had a nice job. Sometimes I used to get sad about it, So I need to learn English.
On the other hand, I’m happy to be close to my family, my mom, brothers, uncles and cousins.
I hope better things come soon, also I am happy to know that my son is going to grow in a place with greater opportunities.
My value system is based in my family — I value my family.
I came from a big family with many brothers and sisters. My childhood was hard, but, on the other side, it was happy and fun. We had to work and help our parents, but when work was done we would go play and have fun.
When we all got older my brothers and sisters had to immigrate to this amazing country. And we kept practicing the values our parents taught us.
This is my value and that is why my value is in the family. No matter what happens, family is family, and we always stay together.
My name is Marlene
I’m happy, because when I came to this country three years ago, I did not understand English. It was difficult. Now I understand A LITTLE.
I believe that in the future I will learn English very well.
My name is Jose Almonte
I am not a religious person, but I am a spiritual person, and I do believe in God.
About my beliefs: I think that no one should think that what they believe is the absolute truth, and that everyone should believe what they believe. Sometimes we can be wrong. And also it is wrong to force your beliefs on someone else.
Our destiny is to search for the truth, but sometimes we can look in the wrong places for the truth, or we can be given misinformation. Sometimes religions and other kinds of beliefs can be forced on people. However, someone forcing their beliefs on you cannot bring you to the truth. The truth is inside us, the spirit is inside us. The truth is in our spirituality.
We cannot “find God” outside of ourselves, through religions or through some sect. Being a spiritual person, I don’t say “I’m right.” I simply tell you what truth I have learned from inside me, and I don’t judge your beliefs. God can be found inside ourselves.
My main value is <THE LOVE OF GOD>
When I was a kid, my parents told me: “We love God.” And now I believe and love God with all my heart and all my mind.
Jose Luis Ponce
Hi, my name is Emilly, I’m 23 years old, married. I’m from Brazil.
I am a dreamer, and I have always striven for my life goals. I believe in the love of God, first and foremost, that is what moves me and gives me the strength to overcome the difficulties of a new country, with different cultures and beliefs and still live with the longing of whom people love so much.
But I believe it will all be a matter of time and I will not give up so much of my dreams.
Life is so short and therefore, I try to give value to what really matters and makes sense: I seek to be happy, to take as a learning experience everything that is wrong; and grow with all that is good.
My name is Hafida Oukour, I am 22 years old , I was born in Morocco. I speak Arabic and French. I got married after I got my high school diploma. I did not finish my degree at the university because I came to USA. I’ve been here for almost 6 months. My hope now is to study and get a degree to find a better job to improve our life in the future. I believe that we are all brothers and sisters even we are from defferent countries and cultures.
Islam is my religion that I follow. I have to believe that there is only one God — Allah — and Muhammad is the last messenger as we are taught in the book of Quran.
Hello, My name is Meriem Jazouli. I’m 22 years old. I’m married. I’m from Morocco. I came to USA with my husband. I studied in Morocco Computer Science but when I married I dropped out of school. I’m Muslim and my first language is Arabic. I believe in Allah and the Prophet Muhammad and the Koran, and I hope Allah will help me to bear the migration far from my family and have a happy life. Finally I believe that Allah is with me every day and at all times .
Hello, my name is Gloria Umana,
I live in Revere for 14 years. I am married; I have three children, one boy and two girls. They are my life.
I am happy to be in this country, because it is an opportunity for us and for my children to have a better life.
I believe that God is the one who has given me the opportunity to be here, and if I put my hopes in it, everything I want I can have it, if it is his will.
And say thank you to God for all.