By Lynn C., 8th Grade
When I lived in China, my grandpa owned a suitcase manufacturing company. The suitcases were so big, I could fit inside one. I used to go to the large building where the suitcases were manufactured and watch how all the different people did their part. This was fun. Sometimes I hid inside a suitcase. Then a security guard would find me. “You can’t be in here,” he’d say, and then he’d call my dad. But one day, everything changed. We put our belongings into six of my grandpa’s suitcases and moved to America.
As I looked out the big airport window in China, I saw many gigantic planes. During the flight, I slept, ate, and got up to walk around. After what seemed like forever, my ears popped. We had landed in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. The seatbelt sign dimmed, and I was in Denver, Colorado. My two little sisters yawned and got up tiredly. I was surprised to see that my parents were calm, not a bit frustrated. As we got off the plane, I saw many people talking in a language that I did not completely understand.
Fast forward to the first day of 4th grade. When I woke up, I felt the cool air from the open window. I got dressed in comfortable pants and a long sleeved shirt. My mom put my hair into a regular ponytail and drove me to school. As we were driving, I saw a giant red playground. It was way more colorful than I remembered the playgrounds at home. As I entered the school, I saw bright and long halls with a classroom about every three feet. I tried to find the 4th grade hall but couldn’t. My backpack felt strangely light and made me feel somewhat uncomfortable. Since I left all my friends back in China, I felt out of place and like a stranger.
As I finally walked into my classroom, everybody immediately stared at me. My teacher, a tall, plump, brunette, came up and greeted me.
“Hi, Lynn! I’m Ms. Tetzloff, welcome to my class.”
“Hi,” I said shyly. This was one of the three words that I knew, and it was one of the many awkward conversations I would have in the coming months. It marked the day I had to start over and rebuild myself. There were many challenges along the way. One of them was making new friends. I had to find new people to socialize with, and it was extremely difficult because I didn’t know how to say anything. Another challenge was keeping up with the school work. Back in China we used to go to school at 7:00 a.m. and come home at 8:00 p.m. But I got all my homework done in school; therefore, I did not have to worry about what to turn in the next day. But here, I had homework that I couldn’t finish at school. When I got home, my parents could only help me with math but anything other than that we all struggled with. One of the most important factors that contributed to my life was feeling different than others. I had grown up in an environment where I was the same as everybody else and fit in. But in America, I felt like I had to be two completely different people at home and in school.
Years passed. It was the second day of 7th grade, and I was feeling good. I went to second period, Social Studies. The class had started, and the teacher had asked for volunteers to read. For a second I thought that I would not raise my hand, but surprisingly, I did. I was called on, and I began to read. I thought I would mess up or get tongue tied, but I didn’t. I read like it was nothing. Later in the day, I thought about that moment, and that was when I realized that I had broken out of my shell.
In conclusion, had I remained in China, I would not be writing this story today. And I, myself, would also be different. I would not have as many friends as I do now, and I would not be the person I am today. But I did change. I have many friends, and I am very outgoing. In school, I have a good relationship with kids and teachers. Now, I am not afraid to speak up and raise my hand.