The Most Important Things in Our Lives

The most important things in our lives is a very interesting question. I decided to ask my family.

My husband answered that the most important things in his life are family, to have good health, work, and love and peace.

My older daughter answered that most important things for her in her life are family, school, and friends (her best friend is Jasmine).  My younger daughter answered that the cure for cancer was the most important for her.

After asking my family this question, I see that everyone has different perspectives in their lives depending on their age and experience.

Written by Patricia Calderon with help from her daughter.


An Important Part of My Life

I have been a volunteer literacy tutor now for over three years and the joy of helping people is still with me. During this time I have seen the tremendous positive effect that our volunteer work generates. In addition to inculcating the learners a new language we are also contributing to their development as citizens of a new country, foreign to them and sometimes intimidating.

I have observed that most learners lack the confidence of searching for better jobs because their language deficiencies. We, as literacy tutors, have the power to help them overcome those shortcomings.

I often ask my students to formulate three wishes for the purpose of discussion. Not surprisingly, they all want the same things: To learn English; to get a better job; to buy a big house. Some expressed the desire to have their own business. Imagine, that to some extent, as literacy tutors, we have the power to help them achieve their goals.

I feel privileged that I have been given the opportunity to participate in the culmination of these people’s dreams. I have made my volunteer work an important part of my life.

Robert L Ozibko

A letter to John Goy, author of Their Great Gift

Dear Mr. Goy

Hi Mr. Goy, I am Elizabeth. I am married, I have three kids and I am an immigrant in this country this is the reason why this book reminds of when I came here. When I was reading and looking at the pictures in the book Their Great Gift, I was feeling sad, and I continued to read and look at the pictures.  I stopped on every page and I was thinking about my past life. I was remembering when I came here for the first time. I was thinking that I would have a better life than I would have in my town in Mexico. It is true but you have to confront a lot of challenges, you need to know how to be involved in this big country.

I will never forget how afraid I was one day when my son was two years old.  He had a doctor’s appointment and I needed to take a bus because I didn’t have a car and I didn’t know how to drive. When I was in the doctor’s office the person in charge on the front desk told me,   “Your son is not registered with this office.  You need to go to CHOC children’s hospital.”  I got the bus again in two different  streets.  When I was there the medical assistant asked me if I have time to wait because my baby didn’t have an appointment and there were a lot of people. After I was waiting, one patient talked to me and she advised me to take the bus before nine o’clock pm because it’s the last one. I was very sad and scared because my baby was sick, but for that moment I was thinking about how to return back home. After that I decided to leave the hospital and I was lost because I was walking a lot in the hospital to try to find the office and I didn’t know how to get out. I was confused on the direction. I asked some people but they didn’t understand me because I spoke in Spanish. Finally I found a bus stop. I got the bus and I was thinking about my long trip for nothing.

This life lesson made my husband and me think about saving money to buy a car because we worried for my baby’s future appointments . This was one of a lot of challenges that I had to confront in this big country.

I do not understand why you decided to named this book Their Great Gift when you wrote sad words and showed sad pictures. I was looking back at my life in this country but also I can see the story in a good way because I had sad experiences but also I have good gifts from this country.  I’m very grateful because its given me a lot of good things especially my three kids.  They were born here and I try to advise them how to have good behavior and how to develop in this country.  My oldest son is a dental assistant, my daughter is in college and my baby son is in high school. They are my reason to still work.

I have been continuing to fight for their dreams and my dream too. I have been studying English to get a better job.  Before, I lived in a not very good community and I lived with a strange family and I needed to share a kitchen and bathroom.  Now I live only with my family in a safe neighborhood.  When my husband was younger, he was a dishwasher but later he got a good opportunity to work on electrical assistant and now he is an electrician and he has a good job.  Finally!! I can drive and I have a car. So all the time someone has to sacrifice for your family, in this case my husband and I, because we are the first generation in this country. But I don’t care how much work I have to do because I hope one day my kids will have a better Great Gift in their lives.


Elizabeth Perez

In My Family

Dear Carmen,

I read your story Easter Eggs in your book In My Family.  Your story and your beautiful pictures brought back a pretty memory when I was a child.   I remembered when we were kids, my mother, my grandmother, my sisters and I decorated Easter eggs.  My mother and my grandmother put blue, red, purple and green in the eggshells.  It was a lot of fun filling them with confetti.  Sometimes my younger sisters put oil and perfume inside the eggshells, that was funny.  When we broke the eggshells over their head they shouted with excitement.

Thank you so much, Carmen, for a pretty story about eggshells.  It brought to my mind a beautiful memory when I was a girl.




a part of my life

Volunteering at the literacy program has been a very important and enjoyable part of my life for the last 10 years!

It has me actively involved with other people, both students and other tutors.  I have been able to learn from my students about other foods, family traditions, holidays and challenges of entering and adapting to a different culture.

Most importantly, I have seen the courage, determination and effort students make to create a better future for themselves and their children as well as those of us who welcome them!



I participate in the literacy program because I want to learn more.  I want to communicate better with my daughters and in my daily life.

The class helps me to be confident, to see how much I can do!



It’s important to learn more

I participate in the literacy program because it’s important to learn more.  The program helps me in writing, reading and have conversations with other people.  Hopefully in the future, I will get a job.  Now I am able to make an effort in everything I do.

Thanks to all the teachers and the people who help.

Acela C.