Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

Our Pre-K classroom was in a trailer outside the actual school. Public school budgeting. But Mrs. Ellis made do, decorating with colorful posters and animal silhouettes. The floor was laced with floor mats that we were each assigned to. I sat in the back. This turned out to be lucky.

One day, I got sick. Practical and efficient, I turned around on my floormat, puked, wiped my mouth, and spun back around to listen to the teacher. Everything verged on returning to normal, but a boy pointed an accusatory finger at me and announced, “ELIM JUST THREW UP!!” I was confused. I didn’t understand those words. Chinese was my first language, and this was my first year in English school. My mother picked me up and I sat with a bucket mindlessly watching the cartoons on TV. This was not normal, as usually when I got home after school, I would curl up on the couch and practice reading books. I learned English first through the written word. Mrs. Ellis understood my timidity in class and took me on special trips to the library instead. Elementary school was sprinkled with incidents where I mispronounced simple words, so talking was scarce. But being isolated by my slow climb to fluency made me build a safe world out of my own thoughts. Books...

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