Twenty Years Ago – School!

It was a Monday afternoon.  We had been in the country for a little over three weeks when we realized that I needed to go to school.  We didn’t know what to do.  One night, my parents took me to night school to learn the language.  Because of my age, they said I needed to go to regular school.

So, on Monday, my dad drove me to the local high school to enroll after I had to take some tests at the school district offices.  They needed to see where I would needed to placed.  Much to my happiness, I tested at a 12th grade.  Sadly, the lack of English skills sent me back to repeat the 9th grade.  Yes, I was in 10th grade when I moved up here.

After submitting all the paperwork the school needed, the counselor told me it was time to say goodbye to my dad.  School would begin right away.  WAIT A MINUTE!!  Why?  Didn’t I need school supplies?  Nope!  It was time to go.  My dad gave me some money for lunch.  I didn’t have anything before leaving the house.  With a $20.00 bill in my pocket and not much else, I was given a schedule.  One girl took me to a cart outside the cafeteria to buy food.

The following memory will forever be in my mind.  As I handed the $20.00 to the lady she said in a very rude voice (she spoke my language), “we don’t take $20.00 bills.  Read the sign.  You don’t get lunch today.”

From there on, I knew I had to learn the language to show this lady.

I was so hungry.

The bell rang and off to my class I went.

The culture clash was very interesting.  It sounds so bad, but the type of ESL students that were in the class were the type of people I would never hang out with.  They came from different backgrounds.  But it didn’t matter.  Here I was – poor and very lost.  It was a humbling experience for which I will be grateful for my entire life.

The first few days were very hard.  I had to learn to move from class to class.  I had to get a locker and a *gasp* a lock – which, by the way, got stuck.  If it hadn’t been for a nice girl, I would still be stuck in that locker room trying to get my PE uniform out.

A funny thing happened.  I thrived as the days, weeks, months, and years went by.  I learned the language.  Within two years, I moved out of the ESL classes.  I actually graduated with honors.  I was one of the top 100 students in the school district.

Back then it was so hard to see the good.  I felt poor, out of place (I still do), homesick, and physically ill.  The first three months of school were a constant battle with colds.  I had a cold every two weeks or so!

After school, my dad picked me up and we had Chinese food.

That place is now a doughnut shop.

So much has changed in twenty years.  I am married (for the second time) with two wonderful children.  I still have the weight struggles that I had then.

At the same time, two things remain the same.  First, I am STILL in school.  Second, I still love to do homework with only minimal lighting.  The first few months in the country were spent in a garage sleeping on a cold floor.  I did homework by the only lamp that gave us light.  I hunched over to get my assignments completed.  I still prefer to do that!

I should have had Chinese food with dad to celebrate the anniversary, but having the kids made the day so much sweeter.

>Funny things you see


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