By Esther Landhuis
September 16, 2017
When he came to the United States 12 years ago, Edgar Velazquez hardly spoke
a word of English. Most days of his first year, the 14-year-old Mexican
immigrant went to the library after school to read the dictionary,
determined to learn 250 words - the minimum for basic conversation.
At home, Velazquez often did his homework in the bathroom. It was the
quietest spot in his family's 500 square-foot studio in the Tenderloin, a
San Francisco neighborhood with "needles on the ground and a lot of homeless
on the streets," he recalls.