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Evans students write about gifts and lessons

(Editor's note: We received stories from the following students in Joyce  Mancini's advanced ESL classes at Evans Community Adult School in Los Angeles: Milagro Benavides, Jose Hernandez, Brenda Olvera, and Caiping Tan.)

My first car
by Brenda Olvera
     The best gift I ever received was a black two-door 1990 Geo Storm with a stick shift. The rims were a little rusty and the tires were old. The front seats had black velvet covers imprinted with red cherries. The back seats didn't have covers and they looked dirty because they had a lot of spots on them. The plastic floor carpets had blue dolphins. The dashboard was in bad condition. It was cracked by the sun. In the trunk were some supplies to wash the car and other things like oil, antifreeze and cables. My car looked like a toy. I kept some of my favorite toy animals sitting in the back. There was no place for any passengers. My co-pilot was my much-loved Elmo doll. I didn't like to have a mess in my car so it was always neat. In general, the car was in excellent running condition.
     This Geo first belonged to my mom. She gave it to me last January when she got a new car for herself. I never imagined that I could have my own car. I was very happy, but at the same time I was scared about the enormous responsibility of owning a car.  Having a car brings a lot of expenses such as maintenance, which includes tune-ups and smog checks. Also, when it breaks down, you have to take it to the mechanic. But possessing a car has special benefits. I loved the idea that I would never have to ask for a ride when I left for work. I could go anywhere I wanted without waiting for a bus. At the present time I have a better car. I just sold my Geo last week. Now it belongs to my brother-in-law, but I will never forget my first car.

A big lesson from my father
by Milagro Benavides
     Years ago my family and I went to Cuco Beach in El Salvador. We rented a beach house facing the beach. In the afternoon my family and I were sitting on the patio and enjoying our lunch. My mother had placed several plates of food on the table. My sister Emma brought the soda and tortillas. Her daughter Fanny cooked rice for us. My father put the beef and tomatoes on the barbeque. When lunch was ready I served it to everybody.
     Along the beach there are many poor communities as well as homeless people who live in small hovels. When we were ready to eat, two little boys were standing beside me but I didn't see them. My father told me, "Sweetie, serve two more plates of food." I told him that I had served everyone. I was angry. He said to me, "this world is difficult. Some people don't have the same possibilities that others have." I felt embarrassed and sad. I am proud of his lesson. He taught me how to help others.

The lesson I learned from my mother
by Caiping Tan
     My mother Su Fen Hu has always been a responsible person. When I was seven years old my neighbors went on vacation for a month. My neighbors had a big garden where they planted many flowers. They loved their flowers very much so they asked my mother to water and plant their garden during their vacation. She promised to take care of their flowers.
     One day my mother got sick. She couldn't eat, cook or even walk. She lay in bad for a day. When the sun set my mother was going out to work with the flowers. I told her that she would rest because just one day off from the gardening would not kill the plants. My mother looked at me and said, "Whenever you make a promise to anybody you need to keep it." On that day my mother and I planted flowers. She kept her promise. Our neighbors thanked my mother a lot because of her good care and responsibility. I am so proud of my mom. I learned a good lesson from her.

VOCABULARY HELP*    
breaks down - stops working
cracked - broken without coming apart
dashboard - in a vehicle, the front panel covered with instruments
facing - presenting a front to someone or something
hovels  - small, open dirty shelters
mess - a clutter, disorder
rims - the outside edges or borders of something, usually roung
rusty - a reddish-brown color, created when oxygen reacts with metal 
spots - marks that look different from their background, a stain

*Definitions from The Newbury House Dictionary of American English 4th edition, by Rideout. 2004 Monroe Allen Publishers.  Reprinted with one-time permission of Heinle & Heinle a division of Thomson Learning. FAX 800 730-2215.