Archive for the ‘ESL essays’ Category

ESL student: life is limiting for Iraqi women

By Rita Marzeena         

GROSSMONT COLLEGE– Each community has customs and traditions. the customs and traditions of Iraq are derived from the Islamic religion. Everyone has to follow these traditions. If someone doesn’t follow them, it means that he/she doesn’t respect the older people who have followed these traditions for a long time.  Some people like these traditions that old-fashioned people follow, but some people do not. I like  the marriage traditions, but dislike the tradition that  women cannot work in some jobs, and cannot drive cars as men do.

Marriage in Iraq is often arranged. When a man sees a woman that he finds beautiful and attractive, he tells his mother about her. His mother will do research about the girl’s family to see if she is suitable and if she would be a good wife for her son. If his mother agrees, she will be the one who goes to the girl’s home and ask her parents for their daughter’s hand for her son. Then the girl’s family will do research about the man and his family. When both families agree, they all come together to meet.

The bride and groom spend some alone time together to get to know each other. If they like each other; the two families will celebrate with other relatives and friends by going to the court and signing their marriage certificate, and then in the church for Christian people and at the bride’s home with a man called “Mason” for Muslim people. I like all of these customs. What I don’t like about our marriage traditions is when the girl has cousins, she is sometimes required to marry them even if she doesn’t like them.

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ESL student talks of two marriage types in Iraq

By Rasha Jasim

GROSSMONT COLLEGE — Getting married in Iraq is a long process. It takes a lot of time and many steps to get done. Some of these steps are interesting and some of them are complicated and boring. There are two main different types of marriage in Iraqi society, the traditional marriage and being-in-love-before marriage.

The traditional marriage is more common in Iraqi society. That’s how my father and mother got married. I’ve heard the same story from both of them many times, though with some differences. My mum was working as a teacher in one of Baghdad’s schools. She was a beautiful, intelligent, funny and very nice young lady, from an educated family. A girl like her was the perfect bride for a man like my father. He was a handsome, successful businessman and wanted to settle down with his soul mate.

Since they were complete strangers, their friends helped them. Saadia was a common friend for both of their families and she arranged a “non intent” meeting for them, so they could see each other before having a formal step. The mission was successfully completed and there was a spark between them. After that, my father and his family went to my mother’s house for a visit in order to get acquainted with each other. Then there was another visit to make everything clear, such as when they were going to get married, where they were going to live and the most important thing was the “nishan”. That was the jewelry that the groom had to buy including the wedding ring, necklace , bracelet and earrings. And the second thing was the “mahar” which was the amount of money that he was going to spend on the wedding and the “jehaz” which was buying clothes and makeup products for the bride. All of that and more, the two families had to agree on.

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Grossmont ESL classes create community, seek volunteers

By William Dudley

GROSSMONT COLLEGE—With seven hundred students, Grossmont College has one of the largest populations of English learners among local community colleges.

The population is divided almost equally into two categories: foreign students who came to the United States to pursue education and who will return to their home countries, and immigrants or refugees who are trying to build a new life and new home in the United States.

Challenges in learning English can differ greatly based on the person’s country of origin. For example, students from Russia have trouble with “a” and “the” — such articles do not exist in their native language. different backgrounds and cultures have different challenges in learning English. Native Arabic speakers, on the other hand, have trouble with capitalization.

These are some of the  tidbits of information out of many to be found in Donald H. Harrision’s reportage on Grossmont College’s English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) department, which was recently published in the online journal San Diego Jewish World. Continue reading

ESL student tells of Iraqi marriage customs

Editor’s Note: Following is another article in our series of stories by students in Grossmont College’s English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) program discussing customs in their native lands.

By Hiba Wadeaa

GROSSMONT COLLEGE–Each country has his own cultural traditions , and we may agree or disagree with these traditions . There are differences in the cultural behavior of the countries, such as in one country this behavior is acceptable, and in another country it is not . My country like any country has some cultural traditions that I like or dislike . Two of these traditions that I dislike are about marriage, and the relationships among Iraqi  families .

The tradition of marriage is different from one country to another. In Iraq, and especially in my culture which belongs to the north of Iraq in Mousel , most of our marriages are arranged by our families or some relatives or friends. When a guy wants to marry a girl , he has to do many things before he can marry her and this takes a long time and some times results in the end of the engagement due to problems that might happen.

First, he has to ask for her hand; then, he has to go again with his parents and some relatives to ask for her hand again  from her uncles and aunts ; then, the two families plan for the engagement party . After that, all the relatives have to invite both of them with their parents for lunch or dinner.

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Women’s rights in Vietnam lag behind U.S.

Editor’s Note: This is a continuation of a series in which ESL students at Grossmont College compare and contrast customs in the United States and their native lands.

By Ha Nguyen

GROSSMONT COLLEGE — In recent years, Vietnam has changed into a great economy and society. The role of women in the family and in society has been enhanced. Many women have become leaders of big companies as well as holding important positions in the government.

However, an attitude still exists among many generations in Vietnamese society that women still have to handle all the housework. I appreciate the cultural values of my national traditions, but I do not like this attitude for three reasons. First, women have no opportunities for advancement at work. Second, women have no time to rest or relax. Finally, men gradually become irresponsible, apathetic, and indifferent to their loved ones.

In Vietnam, especially in cities, besides eight hours of working in the office or the companies, women have to take care of buying groceries, cooking, cleaning, washing clothes and child care. The housework takes up all their time, so they no longer have enough free time for reading, studying, or researching issues related to their job.

At the university in Vietnam, older women are really rare because they do not have time. I know a woman whose name is Thanh. She is the director of a company that provides high-level personnel in Vietnam. Thanh is a highly educated woman. She had at least four opportunities to go to foreign companies to cultivate business in the United States and Australia…but she could not go because no one could take care of her children as well as handle her housework. Thanh is one of many women who have to skip a lot of opportunities for advancement at work.

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ESL student says U.S, Kurdistan both have good and bad customs

Editor’s Note: This is a continuation of our series of stories written by students in Grossmont’s English-as-a-Second-Language program comparing and contrasting U.S. customs with those in their native lands.

By Amal Albarwary

GROSSMONT COLLEGE–Every society has its own culture, and the cultures are a tradition of complex learned behavior patterns that translate from one generation to another. When we try to compare two different cultural behaviors, there are a lot of things that are similar and different between human beings.

I came from Kurdistan in northern Iraq which has traditions that are different from the United States. Each family has its own ideas on how to raise their kids with respect to older people. There are many things I like and dislike about both countries.  In the United States, I like women’s rights and freedom, but I dislike when girls have sexual relationships with guys before marriage, and one of things that I dislike about my country is when you kiss elderly people on their hands.

First, women have freedom and rights in the United States more than in my country, Kurdistan. In the United States, they have protection against violence and they have many rights after marriage especially when they have kids. Also, they have equal rights with men and many times the women have more rights than a man. Women in the United States always have the law to protect them if they get physically abused.  

Women’s lifestyles in the United States are different from Kurdistan, because women can travel alone, work with men, have friendships with men and do what they want to do without anybody interfering with their freedom and that is not the same in my country.

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ESL students relate some Mexican customs

Editor’s Note:  In a previous article, two male ESL students wrote about customs in their native Iraq.  In this article,  ESL students Debora Cardena and Maria Rodriguez write about customs in Mexico.  The GC Summit welcomes contributions from students.  They may be submitted via professors or directly to the Summit’s instructor at

By Debora Cardena

GROSSMONT COLLEGE — In different countries around the world, the influence of the culture affects the behavior of people, as well as the country’s economy.

Teens are considered adults at age 18 in some countries, and in other countries they are considered adults at age 21. No matter what the country is, the bridge between the dependent life and the independent life differs by culture. This affects the way of life for people, as it affects the country productivity and economy.

For example, in Mexico, children are considered adults at age eighteen, but they are still supported by their parents, and live with them for a long time. This affects their development as well the development of the country. In the United States, at age twenty one, they are considered adults, but at age eighteen they are considered capable of being independent, having their own place to live, and supporting themselves.

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