Dream Has come True

“I will go to China and speak English,”

I told my elementary classmates. I remember that only the Chinese spoke English because they had been present in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since that time, in 1997 if I remember correctly. As for me, I liked the language, as my first new foreign language, taught by Mr. Lwaka, as a new and first English teacher, since the 3rd year of primary school (3rd grade in US), at the Massamba school in Kinshasa. This is how I thought that only Chinese spoke English in the world.

I will go to China, and I’ll speak English

Massamba School..

There’s no photo of Massamba “KasaVubu” school, but I went to this one too in “Limete”

The Massamba school was one of the best in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. From that moment, the owner whose school bears his name, M Massamba, built the Massamba school, in three different locations: Kasa Vubu, Limete and Yolo. These are the municipalities of Kinshasa Capital. This school had a great reputation in education, programs, activities.

The middle students were well educated and others came from decent families and places. However, the location had an impact on the development of children outside of school. Kasa Vubu was known as a dangerous place to live due to less educated people, low standard of living, presence of thieves, bandits and located far from the city center and some places of interest. The reason why it was called « the city: a little more like a suburb ».

I lived in Kasa Vubu for 15 years. I couldn’t speak French perfectly, because the suburban were kin to “Lingala”, known as a vernacular language. We were separated most of the time from other children who came from decent families that have set “French” as the unique spoken language at their home. My mother had an average knowledge experience in school education and French, instead my father had been graduate from “UQAM”, strange, this didn’t gave him the duty to speak to us in French. Every morning we spoke Lingala until we go to bed.

Bachelor degree in BA at the University of Quebec at Montréal “UQAM” in 1983. He has worked in a fishing field in Doula 1992, he came and worked at the Ministry of Environment from 1995 to 2006. Gilbert Kitenge Sh’Okitundu Lungayu
UQAM in 1983 when my father graduated there
UQAM today

The school in Massamba was amazing to an extent that the ‘English program’ was introduced at the start of our 3rd year (an 8 year old child), in 1998 we had a fantastic teacher, Mr. Lwaka. Even though we did not know this beautiful language « English », we were mesmerized by the turn of its language, the tone, the accent, the gesture. Haha! All of this amused us every day and we missed him all the time.

Finally graduation for primary school, I scored 70%, not bad right? We had a book present from the principal, the firsts tens who graduated with 70 percents and up. The book is “Précis de Grammaire” the newest version, that we received in 2001.

The best present I received in my 11 years old and this book still one of the great ones for primary school and anyone wants to recap with the French grammar can trust Maurice Grevisse for this chef-d’œuvre

On July 2, we got our certificates, known as DRC graduation day for all elementary and high school students (US is college). After that day, the other amazing gift was « me », flying to Massachusetts. Haha, well I couldn’t say the less, I didn’t know where I was going until I arrived in Lynn, MA, Central Square # 103, ZIP. code 01901; my mind was confused like having a lost memory. I looked at everything and everyone as if they lived on another planet.

7, central square Lynn, MA 01901, remembering this entrance like it was yesterday. Sometimes, standing there with my nieces when they started selling candies 🍭 after school for fun and for their own pocket money. I was amazed to see them doing it, because, I did it too in Kinshasa, welling fruits at 9 and 10 years old.
Now, downstairs, we would play there, for an hour or two, sometimes, running up and down the stairs. Then this room recalls the madness I had at the time, I subscribe to a magazine without knowing exactly what to expect. This paper at the end of the magazine, I had filled it out as I had learned it in school, then I sent it (I put it back in our mailbox), a few days later, I had received a brand new women’s magazine with my name on it). Mind blowing it was starting to happen every week … I had a problem with my uncle who explained to me that sending this paper meant I had become their member and even though no fees were charged I should expect to receive an invoice in a month. And he immediately canceled it.
The kind of issue I put myself in , I don’t remember the name of the magazine anymore but this is how it looks like.
The view of the building, 7 central square
This right corner (left in real) leads me to my bus station. Every 7.00 I had to grab the bus before it was too late. I had missed it 2 times for all the time I lived there.
The train wasn’t a nightmare in general. For some people living near the train station, indeed, it is not like we couldn’t be annoyed of the noise. The noise was really annoying for me sometimes.
I have been enrolled in this school, Pickering Middle School Jr in September 2001. Coming from Massamba school in Kinshasa, for a puberty girl living in Kasa Vubu and directly arriving here… indeed, its was a dream. I didn’t even know what all this was and how i could define it. I was thinking that i have been taken to another planet. The principal died M Wilson, that what i have been told in 2016 when i called the school

I have been looking for my teachers: Mrs Shandbag (ESL teacher), M Mastracola a Spanish man (Reading teacher), M Castleman (Geography teacher), M Healy who one day drop me home after the ophthalmology exam at school (Computer science teacher), Mrs Camilla a. Cambodian teacher of social science, Mrs Sawyer (Math teacher)… the Arts and Gym teacher that i don’t remember their names.

Seeing am organized classes and students going and coming around ups and downs, changing classes, i didn’t know what’s all that was. I used to stay from 7.30 to 1.30 pm in the same class with the same teacher, same students, same faces everyday and, here i had to move every hour to another class and seeing another teacher and many différents faces. What’s that???

Its tooks me several days and weeks to get used to it. I didn’t know how to speak english very well at all. “Hello, Good Morning, Good evening, I dont speak English, My name is …, I live in…, Thank you, i am sorry, person…” these are the word and brief sentences that i could remember from my Congolese english Teacher M Lwaka. Can you imagine? Going everyday to school without getting the complete idea of what teachers are saying, i was lost in my mind and time was passing so fast that i felt like i was coming to contemplate and observe.

It reminds me of my master bedroom. D to be precise. Homeroom D with Mrs … I have to remember her name because she was one of the nicest and most attentive teachers. I remember being there for 20 minutes every morning doing the national anthem, oh Lord, that I could never memorize. It was amazing to hear the others sing it, but I couldn’t. Only my right hand on my chest and turning my head around to see how others were saying out loud and fluently. I often felt like crying but realized years later that I was strong, so strong that I didn’t feel reduced, humiliated or disadvantaged, but indeed I felt disappointed and deceiving every day that I didn’t. not sing. Of course, I got the first chorus, but not the anthem of the competition. Let’s try it now « O say, can you see at dawn (I didn’t know that word) so I slip away and sometimes I just shut up. Well, I just didn’t get the hymn right. Too bad but that’s it.

OMG. Are these lockers? Okay, these things held me back for over 10 minutes before going to my class after the Homeroom. I did not learn to use the lock and the locker with the code. Oh Lord, I was there everyday wrestling with it and then I wondered how I had it locked. One day a student helped, another day it was the head teacher. It took me so many days to be able to lock and unlock my locker. What a stressful morning for me at 11. after the stress of the hymn and then this. I stopped locking it for a while until a Congolese friend came over to help me get used to the locker myself. And thanks to her, Hortense and Christina Paris (an incredible Haitian and Congolese students who has become my best friends).

This is how my dream came true. Leave my Congolese English teacher and meet thousands of English speakers in an English speaking country. United States of America. Arriving, if I remember correctly through Washington International Airport, then by car, we went to Arizona to say hello to family members and then to New York where I had to eat an American burger for the first time.

I ate a Burger King. It was huge that i couldn’t finis it. I atteste something totally new that i have never had the chance to taste before. Everything seems “never seen before”. I liked it.

Finally we arrived in 7 central square 01902, Lynn Massachusetts #103 on the first floor

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