Language is a tool used by humans all around the globe. There are hundreds of thousands of them yet in the end, it accomplishes one job, communication. Yet for me, it did quite the opposite.
I was five years old when my parents and I immigrated to the United States. We first went to Georgia because that’s where my uncle was living. As I set foot into my new house, I was greeted by my aunt, uncle, and cousins. My awkward exchange of greetings with my cousins let me know that neither of us could understand each other.
Living at my uncle’s house was an absolute nightmare. I was constantly bullied by my cousins for not knowing english and they would play pranks on me such as locking me inside the garage when it was below zero degrees outside. My parents were always at work so I was at the house alone, with noone to talk to. Surrounded by my own sadness, I sulked around the house daily, wishing for the first day of school to roll around.
It was September 7th, the first day of school. Hand in hand, my mom dropped me off into my classroom. However, all around me were unfamiliar faces with blue eyes and blonde hair. That when it dawned on me that this place would be even worse than the place I call home. I immediately turned back and ran back to my mom, bawling. I begged her not to go and clinged on to her as tightly as I could. My teacher had to bring me back into the classroom and I saw my mom leave. I still remember how betrayed I felt.
The days went by and my uncle’s divorce caused us to move to California. One day at school, I got into an argument with a girl in my class, which still puzzles me to this day because my english was nowhere near as good as to be getting into an argument. In midst of the argument, the girl spat on my face. I wanted to tell the teacher but back then, the word “spit” was not in my vocabulary and was therefore unable to. The humiliation and shame I felt I can still feel today.
That experience changed it all for me. I stopped talking to my new friends and basically cut myself off. I hated the thought of school and resented my parents for bringing me to America. The English language created a barrier between me and society. Being unable to understand or communicate is the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to experience. I had put myself behind a wall and did not bother trying to climb over it. My lack of socializing with my classmates had caused me to be even more distant from the language.
As my years as a student progressed, however, I was able to pick up on the language more and more. I gradually got closer to my friends and even had people that I was able to call my “best friends.” Language was once again a way of communication, a way of understanding, the best possible way to form relationships with someone else.
Language is special to me in the way that it both took away and gave a new life to me. In the days where I could not speak English, talking and communicating with people was a chore I had to go through. However, now that I am comfortable with this language, socialising and being part of a community is something that I look forward to on a daily basis. Language is something that gave me an opportunity to meet the people that influenced me greatly and my life is shaped forever by this language.