As I began studying and as I grow up, I had access to a good school, and good teachers. While Yousafzai didn’t have access to good schools, she learned by herself. One similarity that I had is family support, as well as Yousafzai. If I look deeply in the past and try to remember how I became literate, of course, I will recall that there are many influences that have affected my literacy. These influences are divided into two sections because | am a bilingual person. I have some influences that make me literate in Arabic, and I have other influences that make me literate in English.
In Arabic language, which is my native language, and the language I learned first, there are two influences that affected me. First one was my father. Who was the first person who took me to the bookstore to buy books, magazines. I remember that when I was five years old, I couldn’t read fluently. He encouraged me to read by saying “Now is the time to read by yourself, after few months you will read stories before sleeping all by yourself”. At that time, it was kind of a shock and huge obstacle for me.
I told him, “I am not in the elementary school yet, how can I read? . He said, “All of your siblings learned how to read before they went to school, now it is your turn”. I was upset at that time, but I did what he asked me to do. I began learning how to read, and the first book I read was Treasure Island. After I read the Treasure Island, I loved reading, and started looking for more books. Treasure Island was one of my favorite cartoon series, so when I read the book | was so excited, and I did not want to wait to know what will happen next. I have improved my reading skills very fast.
So, when I became six years old, which was the time to go to school, I was able to read well. I remember on the first day of grade one, when I was asked to read and I was able to read fluently, how surprised my teacher’s face was. By the time I became nine years old, I got deeper in reading, and I started to read many different types of books. At that time, my father let me chose the book I liked, but he made sure that I finished reading a book every week. With all these efforts that my father has used to help me to be a good reader, he became a great influence to my reading.
The second influence in Arabic language was Mr. AlAli, who taught me in Arabic language classes durin time at the middle school. I remember how I was unable to express what I was thinking or feeling by using formal academic Arabic writing. These were his words to me in first year of the middle school “Do not be frustrated. Just have a belief in yourself that you can do it”. He started working hard with me from the first year, by giving me a different way to write formally. He continued working hard with me until I became able to express what I think or feel through writing.
At that time, I was one of the few students who wrote in the mural newspaper of the school. The mural was a newspaper exhibited on a big wall in the middle of the school yard, which teachers chose the best students’ articles to be posted on it. That was so great, especially when I wrote something that was admired by many students and my teachers. Mr. AlAli never give up supporting me, and giving me tips until my last day in the middle school, and I was still in touch with him. I am so lucky that I got such an amazing teacher like him.
On the other hand, is someone asks me about how I became literate in English, I will answer him by saying because of the teachers I had at the University of Dayton. I had a very great teachers during my English learning. Before I came to the United States of America, was able to speak and read in English, but I was not good in writing. When I arrived to Dayton OH, to study at the University of Dayton, my ability in writing was limited. I was able to write about a one page paragraph only, and I could not completely understand the instructions of the writing prompt.
Since the first ay of classes at the University of Dayton, my teachers strongly encouraged me to improve my writing ability. Since then, my English teachers never disappointed me, after any writing assignment I have done. My English teachers started with me by asking me to write a long paragraphs about different topics, until they realized I have improved. Then I had to write my first essay which was about the best place I went. By the end of the essay, I was surprised by myself, and how I was able to write the whole essay which was three pages long. My teacher liked the essay, and he gave me reflections and tips to improve my next essay.
He kept giving me useful reflections and tips after each essay. Not only did my teacher read my essays and gave me reflections through the time that he was teaching me. I have spent nine months at the English Language Program and with this time I have improved my writing skills with my teachers. As for Yousafzai, her literacy was different than mine. She became literate by learning by herself. Yousafzai fights to learn; she had more difficulties with learning because of what she went through, her school, and the Taliban. Yousafzai went through many challenges; it began when she was shot by the Taliban.
Yousafzai fights for children rights. As Yousafzai mentioned in her Nobel Lecture “I had two options, first is to remain silent and wait to be killed, second is to speak up, and then be killed. I chose the second one, and I chose to speak up”. Yousafzai fights for girls right; she fights to get girls quality education and raise their voices. In her village, there was no secondary school; she challenged herself to build one. Yousafzai had a family support, her mother inspired her, and her father didn’t clip her wings, and he let her fly with her dreams.
Yousafzai didn’t have access to good school, although she loved to gather and learn, study with her friends. As Brandt Deborah mentioned in her article Sponsors of Literacy “Differences in performances are often attributed to family background (namely education and income of parents) or to particular norms and values operating within different ethnic groups or social classes” (Brandt 6). Families background can play a big role in person’s literacy. And some people can work hard and face many challenges to be a literate.
That’s what Yousafzai did; she fights for her education, and fights to be a literate with all the challenges she went through. While I didn’t have the same challenges that Yousafzai had with becoming a literate person. Through my literacy experience I have learned important things, that learners should pay attention to, in order to improve their literacy. First, literacy requires long time and patience because it is not the process that is done in specific period of time. Second, the beginning of the process is so important because it is the foundation, and it has to be strong to continue your literacy.