BRIAN FISH'S CLASSROOM
Brian teaches English at Rancho Verde High School. He participated with the oral history project for the first time in 2019-2020 and continued the project as a co-lead of the grant AND participant in 2020-2021. Brian shared that this project helped him to learn more "about the diversity of our community" and "the many challenges [his] students face."
All oral histories and student projects are shared with permission. Written portions have been edited for length and clarity.
I went to school at Muhoho High School, Kiamby County, Kenya. Business Studies was my favorite subject in high school because my dad was a successful business and that made me want to learn more about it.
My primary language is Kikuyu, which is a tribe that migrated into Kenya from Congo and settled in Central Kenya. I identify with my Agikuyu tribe in Africa, and I am a firm believer in the Christian religion.
My father was the most positive influence in my life. His background of hard work and eventual success inspired me greatly because he had to go through way worse things than I did and that always gave me hope as I struggled in America to make a better life for myself.
The community we live in is a quiet, peaceful, gated community where people barely interact and every home keeps to themselves. If I could change anything about this community, I would wish people interacted more with each other instead of not knowing who their neighbor is. A more knit community can draw strength from one another.
About Ian's illustration (pictured below):
I believe that the importance of his story as a part of living history is quite significant. My uncle might not be the only African who had completely accomplished his American Dream, but his brother-in-law was an easy example of a failure of this dream who is back in Kenya. Within him, there are two stories of the American Dream. These two stories live inside my uncle, and they are stories I want my family to remember and look back upon as motivation or if need be at least an element of fear of what could happen to them. Having a Christian home was important to all of us equally. I do not want my family to be completely assimilated by Western culture but to have my whole family know their roots at some point, the good and the bad.
In his experienced eyes he believes that the regular American community is ironically always as it is now, basically quarantined houses. All the different types of people in America have obvious stereotypes of people who were “different” from themselves either culturally, racially or religiously. These stereotypes have become jokes for most Americans. Though humorous, these jokes eventually end up etched in our heads. Many people believe they are not racist or think they are open to cultural diversity but in their own minds there is some stigma towards different people. With this knowledge, I decided to draw a family walled off from its neighbors. It might not seem like a big deal to the normal American but not knowing enough about the people you live next to could end up being the downfall of a whole community.
I went to elementary, middle school in Corona, and I went to high school at La Sierra High School and then I did some college, but not all college, so I went to the Al-Madinah University, and I did some satellite courses. I went to University of Phoenix and I also did Riverside Community College.
Favorite subject? I'm going to stay is between Math and English. Math because I like solving problems. I like solving Mysteries so I try to figure out or solving a problem was always a mystery to me and I couldn’t stop until I finished it. English because I like writing and I like storytelling.
The most positive influence, I would say my mother, because she was a very strong woman and no matter what life brought to her, she was always able to overcome any obstacle and she was very very strong and achieved everything she wanted to and she fought to do and to help people all the time and to do for others.
The community I live in now is very fast-paced. Good people, but very fast-paced, very busy. Life is just very hectic and I feel like everybody is so busy trying to make ends meet that nobody actually lives. Everybody is just trying to survive. but nobody is actually really enjoying and living life. They’re just surviving and getting through life.
About Mark's drawing (pictured above): She has described the community and everything as a depressing, tiring, more dangerous, and tougher time and place. She depicted a place of much struggle and danger, but a wish for betterment and where more can be happy. This was shown through her description of the homeless, crime-rates and danger, and people not living but just surviving and getting by, by barely making ends meet and not being happy. My drawing represents her fears of what she sees and has seen in our community throughout time and as it continues on.