In 1992, Loreen Sumner was hired as the first English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in Duplin County, North Carolina, and, through the years, she has had the privilege of teaching many students immigrating to this country from diverse parts of the world. Oscar Mojica, a twelve-year-old from Mexico, was one of her first ESL students. As a young migrant boy, he had quickly become disillusioned by his surroundings in America, realizing his expectations of ever reaching “the American Dream” would require overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles. In 1992, due to the first influx of migrant students to the small, rural, agricultural community in which he now resided, naturally there was an adjustment process for all. In actuality, he did not receive a hearty welcome or “bienvenido” from some of the American folks who had adjustments to make themselves. He immediately felt a sense of not belonging in America.
Arriving in America as an immigrant child was a difficult adjustment, and Oscar felt the hurt in not being welcomed with open arms. Some Americans saw him as an intruder, and it took him some time to adapt to his new surroundings. Along with the hurt and sense of feeling like an outsider, he also suffered anguish from having to leave his homeland and his beloved abuela, his mother’s mother. He had departed from Mexico only at his mother’s insistence. His beloved mother desired to alleviate the extreme poverty and harsh trials he and his younger sister had suffered back in Mexico, so she brought her children to America, in hopes of a better life.
On the very first day Oscar walked into his first ESL classroom, his first ESL teacher was more than intrigued when he stubbornly crossed his little boy arms and said in a defiant little boy voice, “Le reto que me enseñe ingles!” Yes, he dared her to teach him English! Immediately, she recognized from the look in this young boy’s big brown eyes that he was hurting from a sense of rejection from his new community. He was really informing her to not even try to make him fit in or assimilate in a community that resented him just for being here, even though they did not know him as the fine young man he was.
As a new teacher who felt she could overcome any obstacle, Ms. Sumner enthusiastically accepted his challenge. She immediately recognized that his stubborn, determined personality would be a significant, contributing factor in helping him overcome the enormous struggles he would encounter. Sensing that his destiny was divinely ordained, Ms. Sumner was inspired to not only teach him English but also to help him discover or follow his divine purpose in life. She was just as stubborn as he was, and he soon would learn that she would lovingly interfere in every aspect of his life until he reached his goals. Oscar became not only her student but also her son. She became like a second mother to him.
Today, Oscar Mojica is thirty-nine years old, and his story covers an amazing journey that ultimately has brought him to the fulfillment of a divine purpose for his life in America. He is living “the American dream” as a Mexican-American, and he is helping others achieve their dreams as well, in America. Today, with tender emotion, his first ESL teacher recalls the very first time she met her beloved student from over twenty-five years ago:
“As a new teacher, when the twelve-year-old little boy named Oscar Mojica dared me to teach him English, I eagerly accepted his challenge, and he became my prodigy. I embraced his Mexican culture and taught him to embrace my American culture. Today, he is thirty-nine years old, and he is contributing or giving back to the same small-town community that not only accepted him but also embraced Oscar Mojica. He became more than just my student. He became my son. I became like his second mother. Proudly, I can say that he is making America great again due to his amazing contributions to America. He is a blessing to those who have had the privilege to get to know him. Oscar Mojica is not only an amazing person of Mexican heritage, but he is just as American as I am.”
This is his incredible story written by his first ESL teacher who accepted his challenge when, as a twelve-year-old boy, he dared her to teach him English.