Chapter 3: On Starting School



I’m the Asian being held/comforted by the teacher on the right.

I can only imagine how silly I looked my first day of school.  I get a little embarrassed thinking back on it now.  I must have been all trussed up in brightly-colored, matching sweats from Taiwan, butchered Engrish slogans strategically placed all over the whole getup.  What can I say to defend my childhood fashion faux pas?  Ignorance is bliss.  Apart from looking like I had come straight from Taiwan, I sounded it also.  I entered pre-school not knowing a lick of conversational English.  It was a little like being tossed into the fire.

This presented a problem to the Westport Board of Education that I’m not sure they’ve ever had to address before.  As far as I can remember, I was not placed in an English as a Second Language program, probably because (I’m going out on a limb here) I was one of the first completely non-English speaking students they were ever presented with.

Instead of creating a separate class for my “special” needs, I was just given extra attention by the teacher that served only to further isolated me from the rest of the class.  I didn’t mind though.  Being thrust into the classroom setting and forced to interact with English speakers and daily television therapy soon had me jabbering in English wherever I went, loosening my reliance on speaking Mandarin Chinese, a skill that was proving to be useless in this environment that I was quickly adapting to.

It was here in these early classrooms that my love for reading was first cultivated.  I learned English letters quickly and found myself reading more and more at a very young age.  As I mastered the ability to read at a certain grade level, I quickly moved on, finding more interesting reading material just around the corner on a different library bookshelf.  I was a voracious reader at an early age, spending hours at the library perusing the hallowed book stacks.  I always ended up checking out a stack of books too heavy for me to easily carry to bring home and pore over.  The library was my safe haven and the only colorblind space I could engage myself with at ease.

9 Responses to Chapter 3: On Starting School

  1. jackie says:

    lucky.. i hated english cus everyone picked on me for bad speaking skills .. and now look at me.. my english even more sucks

  2. erichao says:

    So this is why you always correct me…Cause you had it hard in the past.

    Oh Soon-Du-Liu

  3. Sarah J says:

    no matter how white washed i am, believe it or not, cantonese chinese was my first language. then i went to school and my parents wanted me to do well in english so they started speaking chinglish to me, which soon turned to english. i always did poorly on reading comprehension though

  4. Jason says:

    nerds are cool.

  5. jane says:

    doing poorly on english comprehension may be correlated to being bilingual! includable in grad school apps, says my supervisor, a PhD in the psychiatry department studying bilingualism.

    i love reading, but have always sucked at reading comprehension… which makes sense because i rarely remember much about the book except that i enjoyed it. haha!

  6. jon says:

    yo jane, that is me all day….

  7. johnny says:

    i dont ever recall ever thinking u were fob…. im confused. haha. but nice going. I remember loving the library because I wanted to read fast to earn pizzas from Pizza Hut. I always did. and because I won a reading contest, my free gift was a free pick from any book on the table, and i found Mossflower in junior high. i will never be the same.

  8. William Ma says:

    I don’t think there was a struggle but I remember that I only went to the library to play lemmings or word muncher.

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