Chara

( Intermediate Level )

At eight years old, Chara knew she wanted to become a dancer. She had seen a dancing competition show on television and was, immediately, mesmerized.

Whenever she heard music, her body would move. She would move around the room interpreting each chord.

She told her mother that, one day, she would be famous. Her mother would frown and tell her that she needed to get such a silly notion out of her head. “You know your father would never permit this.”

Chara was hoping to graduate from high school and move to America where she could study dance at the Juilliard School in the upper west side of New York.

Was this a dream or could she really make this happen? She was determined to make it happen. Her mom’s words never dampened her spirit.

As the years passed, Chara’s natural talents were obvious. At age sixteen, she had become more confident in her abilities.

Still, not having any formal training, she would perform for the young girls in her village. Always receiving huge smiles and an ovation after each performance.

Chara had always timed her performances while her dad was at work. He felt her dancing was silly. He had told her she was to marry a nice boy, soon, and to give up this idea of hers.

One late afternoon, while Chara was helping her mother prepare dinner, she heard a group of younger girls outside chanting ,“Chara! Come out ,come out and dance!”.

She looked at her mom, her mom smiled and nodded. This was Chara’s cue that it would be ok.

Chara ran to her bedroom, grabbed her radio and then ran outside. To her surprise not only a group of young girls were standing by her door but, what seemed to be, the whole village. Mothers and fathers and grandparents!

It was an intimidating scene for her. She had never performed for such a large gathering. She took a deep breath, turned and set the radio on the ground. She turned it on and listened to the music.

She took a quick glance back and closed her eyes. She took a deep breath and let her body interpret the music. She moved gracefully around her front yard. Her body tells a story to the music.

Chara could hear the crowd, as she danced, and their sounds of appreciation. Only opening her eyes periodically. She let her mind be free, with the music.

She had not realized, as the song ended, that the crowd had become silent. As she finished, she opened her eyes to find her father standing in front of her. He looked down at her and just stared.

He had gotten home much earlier than expected. He saw the crowd standing in front of his house and pushed his way through to find out what was happening.

At that distinct moment, Chara felt a shiver of fright. Her father had told her to give up this silly idea of hers. He had his own ideas for her future.

Was he going to be upset? Was he going to make a scene?

The crowd stood there in complete silence as father and daughter stared at one another. The group of girls had no idea of tension in the air and began to clap and squeal in utter happiness.

Chara’s father stood, very silent, gazing into his daughter’s eyes. Then, she noticed a small tear run down his cheek.

At that moment, he said,” My Chara, my quiet one. You have shown me I was wrong. I just witnessed something I refused to see before. My little girl had grown up to be a graceful young woman. You danced so beautifully!”

At that moment, Chara wrapped her arms around her dad as he kissed her on the forehead. She held her father tight, she thought she may never become famous, as she once dreamt, but she would be in her father’s eyes.

Written by: Angel

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Vocabulary:

mesmerized: hold the attention of someone 

interpreting: explain the meaning of word(s) or regarding actions

frown: facial expression showing unhappiness

notion:  impulse or desire

dampened: less strong 

determined: not changing one’s idea or thoughts

ovation: applause by clapping

chanting: say or shout in a singing tone

cue: a signal

intimidating:  threatening effect.

glance: brief look.

appreciation: recognition

shiver: tremble

tension: emotional upset

utter: complete

gazing: look with intent

Question(s):

When you were young, had you a dream to become someone famous?

Is it important to stop something you love to do when family feels it is not important for your future?

Dream

( Intermediate level )

Jenny grew up in a small town in Iowa. She had lived with her grandparents from the age of four. Now, at 15 years old, Jenny wondered about her future. She dreamt of her future. Was she ever to get out of this little town?

The odds were against her. Her grandparents lived a modest farming life. As most farmers, they struggled from year to year. Barely making enough to pay the bills and having enough left, to tide them over, until the next planting season.

Her mother, Amy, was a struggling young and unwed teenager herself, when Jenny was born. Living in a small conservative community, she was met with much disapproval.

After Jenny was born, Amy left her small town to get a fresh start. Leaving the disappointment of her parents and community behind her. She knew her daughter would be just fine in her parents’ care.

One day, she hoped to return to reunite with Jenny. Hoping she understood why she had to leave her with her grandparents.

As for Jenny, she had her own struggles. Going to school took great effort. For most of her middle school and now in her high school years, Jenny was bullied.

Her grandparents did the best they could in raising her, but the extras they could not afford. They bought her clothes from the second hand store, in the center of town, or relied on donations from families, when their children had outgrown them.

Wearing second hand clothes never really bothered Jenny until she was made fun of one day in class in fifth grade. One of her classmates laughed and pointed at her saying that the dress used to be hers. She had recognized the stain on the collar and proceeded to say how that stain happened.

From that day forward, Jenny was the target for her classmates. Taking every chance they could to point out what she was wearing and whose clothes they might have belonged to.

Jenny would keep to herself, both at school and at home. She would spend hours in her small bedroom, just dreaming. Wishing things could be different.

Every Sunday, Jenny would help her grandfather with his daily farming chores. She helped tend to the animals, mend fencing and even helped in the fields.

She spent many hours with him and listened to his stories. Some were true and some, she knew, he made up just to see her reaction.

He asked her, one day, why she was spending so much time, alone and not out with friends. She, reluctantly, told him why. Jenny knew her grandparents worked very hard and were proud of what they have. She did not want to hurt his feelings but she told her story.

Her grandfather stood quiet for, what seemed to be forever, then looked down at her, smiled and said, “My dear Jenny, when people are unhappy ,with their own lives, they lash out at others. You showed a reaction, by visibly getting upset. This is what they look for. Somehow, they feel better about themselves when they make another miserable. Next time, try not to show them how upset or embarrassed you are. They will soon become bored and find the next person to intimidate.”

Jenny hugged her grandfather for understanding. He, always, knew the right words to say.

That evening, Jenny thought about her grandfather’s words. Wondering if it would make a difference. She knew how mean her classmates could be.

Summer vacation is coming soon. Another month to go and school would be out for three months. Jenny knew this last month would be long. She had to study for her finals and face her classmates.

Jenny realized this was the process of growing up. Finding yourself. Realizing what matters in life. She was not going to let others damper her dreams.

Since she had grown up around animals, she wanted to be a veterinarian. She needed to achieve the best grades she could.

With her grandparents not having a lot of money, she needed to get a scholarship to a university. This was her dream and she wanted to make it come true. No one would take away from her.

One thing she knew, be happy for what you have and not what you don’t have. Why should the opinions of others matter? Why do we need acceptance, from people, to be happy?

Jenny had loving grandparents, a warm, cozy home, and food to eat. It doesn’t matter what others think as long as you are happy and loved.

Written by: Angel

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Vocabulary:

wonder: curious

dream: images, thoughts

modest: one’s abilities, achievements, limited or small

conservative:  traditional values

disapproval: unfavorable opinion

struggle: restraint

effort: attempt

bully: a person who harms or intimidates those who are vulnerable

second-hand: already been owned or used

target: aim of an attack

chores: a routine task or job

reluctant: hesitant

miserable: unhappy or uncomfortable

embarrassed: shame

intimidate: to make someone feel timid or fearful using words or actions

damper: influencing in a negative way

disappointment: sadness over an action

Question ( s ):

Have you ever been bullied or bullied another?

Do you think bullying is a real concern?

What advise would you give someone if they told you they were being bullied?

Grandma Lucy

( Intermediate level )

After 47 years of marriage, Lucy found herself, looking out at the pier, alone. Her husband, Bill, had just passed away the month before.

He had struggled with his health for many years. Finally, his body was too tired to fight any longer.

She remembered his last words to her, as he lay in the hospital bed with his life leaving his body, “Be happy, my love, for I will be, forever, with you.” He always had a poetic way with his words.

After his passing, Lucy found herself not wanting to eat nor get dressed. Her life companion was gone. Her home felt empty. She felt empty.

They had two wonderful sons together. One was a physician in New York and the other was a software engineer in Texas. Each begged her to come live with them, after Bill had passed, but she refused.

She did not want to leave the house that Bill had built for them. She knew she would not be happy in a city. Cities were too busy and too noisy.

She loved hearing the birds sing in the morning. The breeze rustle through the trees and the frogs croaking. The quiet and simple life was what she wanted.

She had wonderful neighbors who would check on her often. Sometimes, having a casserole, saying they had extras. She knew they were making sure she was eating.

Most of the children in the community called her Grandma Lucy. They, too, would knock on her door and have wild flowers in hand, as a gift, for her.

She would head into town, once a month, to grocery shop while her husband fished. She would spend a short time at the park, before she shopped, watching the children play. Sometimes having a few sweets in her pocket to give to the children.

Lucy knew she had to be strong if she was to keep the house and stay alone. She needed to get back to normalcy. Somehow, she needed to find the courage. Each night Lucy would say to herself , “Tomorrow will be the day.”

The day had finally come. The day where she felt she had the strength to face life alone. Lucy woke up with the sun shining through the window. She looked out at the trees and noticed the leaves were beginning to change their colors.

Summer was coming to an end. Winter would be coming soon and things had to be done before the cold weather set in.

She got up and headed to the kitchen. Put the coffee on to brew and headed to the shower. By the time she was done with her shower the coffee was done.

She poured a cup of coffee and walked slowly outside. She found herself walking towards the pier. She had so many memories there.

She remembered watching her husband fish. He was always proud of every fish he caught. No matter how big or how small, he would tell a story of his struggle to land the fish.

She paused, for a moment, and looked out at the sunrise. What a magnificent view. She inhaled and sighed.

She remembered how Bill loved to wake her up and drag her outside to watch the sunrise. He would say, “Today will be a wonderful day!”

As she watched the sun rise higher, kissing the sky, she felt the warmth of the sun touch her cheek. She put her hand to her cheek and she whispered, “Oh Bill. I knew you will always be here with me. Thank you for loving me. I will be ok. I love you.”

She turned and headed back down the pier to her home. Feeling a calmness now, she was ready to start the next chapter in her life. She knew, now, she had found the courage.

She dressed, put on a sweater and put a few sweets in her pocket and headed to town to buy a few groceries.

Written by: Angel

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Vocabulary:

pier: a platform leading out from the shore into a body of water

passed away: polite expression for die

physician: doctor

casserole: oven baked, all in one meal, usually containing meat, vegetables and potatoes.

community: group of people living in the same place

normalcy: being normal

courage: the ability to do something that scares or upsets you

brew: make coffee with hot water.

whisper: speak very softly

calmness: feeling calm, no worries or problems

Question( s ):

How do you feel about Lucy’s choice to stay and not move in with her son(s)?

Would you be able to find courage?

Sarah’s Story

( Intermediate level )

As Sarah lay in her bed, in the dark of night, listening to the clock on the wall she wondered why she was such a failure. Her heart was in the right place, just her choices were not always the best.

She had one failed marriage and, now, is unhappy with her current husband. You see, he was a wonderful man, in the beginning. Always there for her. Sharing the same interests and doing things together.

As the years went by, his drinking became incessive. Starting early in the morning until he passed out at the end of the day. This was, usually, around four or five in the evening . Sarah usually tried to avoid him during the day so the arguments wouldn’t begin.

She thought many times that she was the cause of his drinking. He used to tell her so. He never laid his hands on her but the emotional abuse was real.

Her friends would ask her why she was with such a man. They would tell her she deserved better. She knew if she left him he would surely die. He would drink himself to death. This is why she felt she had to stay.

Many times she would try to talk with him, regarding his drinking. He would just nod his head and tune out. Agreeing with her just to shut her up.

Now, as she lay listening to the clock she felt she could not continue on. Can she make it on her own? Can she move on without guilt? Her days were consumed with misery . Her work was suffering. Something had to change with her situation and it was only her who could make this change.

She saved as much money as she could in the course of the following months. It took about nine months and she, finally, felt she had enough to get away and have a new start.

Sarah kept swaying with her decision, until the very last minute. Should she go or should she stay? She knew if she stayed nothing would change.

While her husband lay passed out on the sofa, Sarah quietly packed one simple suitcase with the barest of necessities to get her by. She quietly took off her wedding ring and laid it on the table.

She chose not to say good-bye but to leave. No arguments or drama. She took one last look at him on the sofa and walked out the door, closing it as softly as she could.

Sarah has not looked back since that day and has made a secluded life for herself. She is content and now has to heal from years of emotional abuse.

She now can lay in bed at night, listening to the clock and her thoughts can wander to what new and exciting things tomorrow will bring.

Written by: Angel

It is never too late to turn the page and start the next chapter in your life.

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Vocabulary :

Incessive: intense , a lot

arguments: opposite views, usually in heated discussion

emotional abuse: a way to control another person by using emotions to criticize, embarrass, shame, blame, or otherwise manipulate another person.

guilt: feeling of doing something wrong

consumed: used up

misery: feeling discomfort of mind or body

decision: making a choice, deciding something

secluded: private, quiet

Question(s):

If you were Sarah, what would you have done differently?