Page 24 - NRT Share Your Moving Story 2017
P. 24

Capitola California
Attending University of California
at Berkeley in in Fall 2017
Embrace the Unexpected!
One-story buildings painted in in in in di di erent shades of pink huge murals that clearly re re re ected Hispanic culture students dressed in white gray or black clothes following the the dress code a a a a bean burrito served as lunch which I had never heard of before and the sharp stares from students the the the moment I walked in the the the classroom are some of the the the images that are engraved on my memory from the rst day of school in the United States At the the age of eleven my family immigrated to the the United States from South Korea leaving everything behind When we landed at the San Francisco International Airport I I was overwhelmed by a a a a a a a sea of people from di di erent erent countries speaking di di erent erent languages and dressed distinctively di di erent Having spent my entire lifetime in a a a homogeneous society this sight caused great intimidation rather than excitement I was the only Asian at my middle school surrounded by hundreds of Hispanic students who spoke English Spanish or both Due to the language barrier I barely kept up with classes using pictures and hand gestures Class participation and and public speaking became my worst nightmares after several embarrassing miscommunications with teachers in front of the entire class I endured numerous lunches hiding at the the the corner of the the the school away from the the the laughters and away from the silent but sensible prejudices The sense of unbelonging grew stronger as as as the time passed My name was too hard to pronounce I spoke completely broken English with a a thick accent that nobody could understand and and I I dressed di erently I I was nothing like them and I hated that The thought of giving up nearly consumed me me but I refused or rather I I could could not not let myself I I could could not not just waste the opportunities my my parents have provided me by devoting their entire lives I could not become another burden on their shoulders while they struggled to maintain our family living in in in in in a a a a a a a a small bedroom in in in in in my aunt’s garage From then on I committed myself to read books books Lots of books books At rst sentences looked like a a set of odd puzzle pieces that did not complete each other but as I continued to read some of those pieces came together and created partial images that allowed me me to to roughly grasp the the the meaning The more more I read the the the more more complete the the the pictures became and noticing di erences in in in my linguistic ability motivated me to further challenge myself by reading higher level books A few months before I I graduated a a a a counselor recommended I I apply for the Humanities Academy rigorous English and Social Studies classes classes to to prepare for AP classes classes Despite my my skepticism towards my my English ability I surprisingly got accepted Indeed the English class was incredibly challenging But learning how to carefully craft sentences and composite persuasive essays signi cantly improved my language skills Moreover I forced
myself to escape my my comfort zone and socialize with other people to overcome my fear of speaking In that class I I was fortunate enough to meet some genuine friends who did not judge me me me for my background or or uency in in English During sophomore year I further challenged myself to try a a a a a a variety of things that I never had courage to I I joined the school tennis team although I I had no no prior knowledge of how to play tennis at all I joined new clubs and also student council As I I became more active and involved I I found myself having

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