The Vancouver Experience 2: Grade 3
When my family moved to Vancouver, Canada, I was 8 years old and my sister was 6. We barely spoke Japanese properly when we made the move. At first, I don’t think any of us knew what we had gotten ourselves into. We had a vague idea of what kind of hardships would be waiting for us, but reality gave us 10 times more than what we had prepared for.
We started going to school right away after having moved there. My sister was in grade 1 and I was in the third grade. Naturally, both my sister and I spoke hardly any English at all. Also, at the time, there were very few foreign students at my school, and we were the only Japanese kids there. Now, as kids, you may think that we were carefree and made friends right away, but that unfortunately was not the case. Every morning, my heart was beating so fast that I thought it would burst out of my chest. It was not that the teachers or the kids were cruel. In fact, it was the complete opposite. They were extremely friendly and had been trying to help us every step of the way. They welcomed us with open arms. But even then, not being able to communicate with the people you spend every day with can be nerve-racking beyond imagination.
At this point, my parents were supportive and wanted to help, but they didn’t speak very much English, either and, of course, cannot stay by our side every minute of the day. When I ask about it now, they tell me that if I had said that I did not want to go to school, they wouldn’t have forced me to. But my sister and I never refused to go to school. Even at a young age, we knew that our parents were trying hard to adjust to the new life too, and did not want to be a burden. Such feelings of obligation fueled our motivation to face our fears, Monday to Friday.
To be continued….