"If you only knew how beautiful my country is!"
My name is Lavinia Voicu-Sprincenatu and I am 18 years old. I was born in
Romania in April 7, 1986 in a city located in the south of the country called
Craiova. Romania is a middle-sized country in Eastern Europe. Romania's
neighbors are Bulgaria in the south, Yugoslavia in the south-west, Hungary in
the west, Ukraine in the north-west, Moldova in the north-east and the Black Sea
in the east. Romania is one of the richest countries in natural resources in
Europe and has one of the oldest civilizations in the world.
I have no brothers or sisters and I am pretty okay with that. Sometimes, I
wished I had an older sister so I could share everything with her. My family
lived very decently in Romania and I had everything I wanted.
I did gymnastics to build my body and muscles. A few years after that, I went to
tennis. My tennis career is probably the best memory I have. My tennis coach was
very interested in me when he saw my qualities as an athlete and he really
wanted me to have a tennis career. He was training me in the summer every day
from 8:00 AM until 12:00 PM continuously. At 12 I went home, ate and slept. I
would wake up at 3 or 4 PM and I would be in the court playing until 9 PM. This
was the routine for the summer. During school time I played less. My tennis
skills became very good and I was on my way to become a real tennis player.
In Romania, school was really hard. In 7th grade before I left the country to
come here I had in school about 16-17 subjects. Some of the subjects were
Romanian language, mathematics, history, geography, physics, chemistry, biology,
botany, two foreign languages (French and English) art, music, etc. In order to
be a good student you had to stay late, until about 12 AM, to study your
homework. In order to be a perfect student, which did not actually exist, you
were supposed to stay until later I believe. In Romania teachers never told you
that you were perfect even if you were because they wanted to encourage you to
be even better. Teachers were excellent. There was never a time when students
asked for explanation because they were very explicit and very concrete. The
discipline in Romanian schools was very strict. There was absolutely no
disruption of the class. I was an average grade student and I always tried to
keep that up. In Romania I started 7th grade before I came to the U.S.
I came to the United States on November 9, 1998. At the beginning I wasn't happy
about leaving my country at all but I thought things will be pretty much the way
they were in Romania. I was wrong but my life here is not bad. I came to this
country with my mother because my father was already here. He came here on April
24, 1992. It was a long time since we lived together and this is why my mother
applied for a green card. A few months before we came here, my mother won the
green card. I was very happy that I will get to see my father again.
When the plane was above New York and I looked down, the appearance did not make
a good impression on me. One week after I came here, I went to the USTA (United
States Tennis Association) to continue with my tennis career. When I went there
a very good coach played with me to see my abilities. Then he became my coach
both during the program and private. After a couple of weeks of training with
him he told me that if I would have a little more control over the ball I could
easily beat Martina Hingis, which was the number one female player in the world
at that time.
Two weeks after I came to the U.S., I went to school. I went to a school that
was a few blocks away from my house. There they wanted to place me in 8th grade
because the level of education in Romania is much higher but they did not
because I didn't speak English. In my class, there was a Romanian girl and she
helped me at the beginning because I couldn't speak. After finishing 7th and 8th
grades with success, I had to go to a high school. I had to apply to eight high
schools. One of the high schools that I applied to was the International High
School at LaGuardia Community College. I was accepted here and at some other
good high schools. Most of the people in my class went to Grover Cleveland High
School. Since I knew that the reputation of that school was not good I decided
to come to our school only because the Q39 bus would stop in front of my house,
bring me in front of the school and vice versa.
On the first day of orientation, I met Mr. Bret. When I told him that I play
tennis he immediately wanted me to meet Mr.Burt. On the last day of orientation
when we had to choose our clusters, I met Ms. Allison. She convinced me of going
to the cluster called Origins. Origins was one of my best years in this school.
The teachers were good and I learned a lot. I had art and I liked it. It was
interesting and I think a little important. I learned about colors and what to
do with them.
Science class was very pleasant and interesting. Ms. Jennifer was very sweet and
I liked working with her. In her class I learned about human biology.
My other class was math. I never liked math so I didn't really like Ms.Arlene's
Last but not least I had my best class. It was history and linguistics taught by
Mr. DeFazio. He was my best friend, he made me love history a thousand times
more than I did and he helped me become the person that I am today. I have to
say that I learned a lot from him, he taught me how to speak English better and
he taught me one of the most interesting things someone could learn. It was
linguistics. Even today I use in my speech some of the expressions and language
that he uses.
Also this was the year when I became friends with Ms. Allison, my guidance
counselor. She became my other friend. She helped me with everything that I
needed, and when I needed it.
My second year here I was in Connections. Connections was not a difficult
cluster. My best class there was Mr. Bret's history class. It was a repetition
of Mr. DeFazio's class, but more detailed. His teaching style was just like in
I also liked Ms. Rachel's and Mr. Simon's English class. I had the opportunity
to write essays, make poems and play music. It was a very relaxing class.
Math and science did not please me very much, but I found them important. Ms.
Margareta and Ms. Betty were very good teachers and I have to say that I learned
a lot of things from them.
My last two years of school were in the cluster named American Dream. Here I
liked all of my classes equally the same. I learned American history in history
class. We also did some native language projects. That was the best time for me
to learn the history of America, because I had a good teacher, Mr. John. He
explained everything in depth and I understood and learned a lot. His teaching
style is very similar to Mr. Bret's.
In science we did a project about garbage for the first semester of the school
year. Starting with the second semester, we studied a little human biology. It
was very interesting and important, and Ms. Alison knew how to make it a fun
class, even though from outside it seemed like a boring class.
Last bun not least, there was Ms.Green, the English teacher. She was an
excellent teacher and she helped me a lot with everything including my English
skills. Even when I was speaking to her, she would stop me and correct me. I
thought that was very useful. In my junior year, my first year in American
Dream, I had one of the best experience in my life. This was internship. I had
internship for about 3 months at Frank Sinatra High School, since I want to
become a teacher. I had the opportunity to watch great teachers teach, and I had
the opportunity to teach a class myself. It was a beautiful experience, thanks
to Ms. Noreen who put a lot of effort in changing my life.
The second year in American Dream, was slightly different for me. First of all,
I had a college math class (math 096), not a high school one.
In history and English, we studied Native Americans. In history we talked about
the history of the Native Americans, and in English, we studied about their
customs, we read myths from their cultures, we watched movies about them, and so
In science we studied human evolution and natural selection. This was one of the
best things I studied through out my four years in this school, along with
linguistics. We watched two incredible movies on these two topics, we examined
skulls for the human evolution project, and we examined populations for the
natural selection project.
Also in my senior year I was accepted in the program called Young Citizens
Center. The two advisors Theresa and Jenny were wonderful people especially
Jenny. She helped me a lot with my college essays and applications; she helped
me with my projects and so on. In YCC I will start a project hopefully based on
health issues since this is what I want. To be more specific the issue that I am
interested in is alcohol, alcohol abuse and alcoholism. School for me in the
United States was very easy. I grew a lot by working and helping teachers and
I've changed a lot too. By working with teachers not only I improved my English
skills, I also learned to be a better worker. I did not have a lot of friends,
people of my age. Teachers were my friends.
The International High School has given me the opportunity to improve my
language skills, to take college classes and to earn the respect of others. Who
I am today, is an example of what a spectacular education and an incredible set
of teachers have turned me into. Once I couldn't wait to get out of this school
and now I become anxious only thinking that I will leave.
Soon, I'll be in college and this makes me a little nervous. I am thinking of
two careers, teaching and psychology, but I am still not decided. I am trying to
stay positive for the future and I am hopeful for the best.