Learning of the time in refugee camp. I

Learning a
new language
that I
have never
heard or
spoken before
was difficult.

At the
age of
twelve, I
had to
jump over
the fear
and learn
the English
language. What
followed was
not only
the obstacle
of not
being to
understand the
language, but
also confronting social
rejection from
other children.

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Some say,
the best
way to
learn a
language is
to completely immerse
oneself in
that language’s country,
hence, physically move
to that locality. The
physical move
creates a
certain anticipation of
what is
to be
found there.

I grew up in a small village in Nepal. No
one I knew spoke English. I wasn’t exposed to English through books, magazines
and TV. Our family spent most of the time in refugee camp. I was born and
raised in a refugee camp, where there was no school. I had never seen school in
refugee camp.

I can
still remember
the day
our family
moved to
the United
States, from
my native
country Nepal.

It was
the summer
of 2009,
a time
that marked
the rest
of my life
until now.

My first impression of Spokane was that it was clean, with big, and tall
buildings, and I was surprised to see my cousin Om at airport when he come to
pick us up.

He was so big and tall; I couldn’t even
tell if it was him or not. The last time I saw him was him was in Nepal
three years ago. He was so short and skinny. Now he is big and tall. I
thought he was an American, as he asked me, “How do you like it so far?”

I was like, “Are you Nepali?”

He said, “I am Om!” Then I told him that
he was so big, I couldn’t even recognize him.  

  After
that we got inside a car. When we were on the freeway I saw so many cars and
those big buildings. Our family decided to move to Spokane because our
relatives, cousins and uncles were here. Looking
back, I
believed that
the journey
has been a
profitable one.

Once established here,
I could
continue my
studies in
a public
school here
in Spokane.

The change
was large,
but I
was receptive
to it.

 My
first day of school in United States was full of the isolation and devastation
of feeling like you are the only one who doesn’t belong or fit in. It
overshadowed all else in my life. I went to my first period class and sat in
the corner of classroom. The classroom was big and there were a lot of posters
hanging around on the wall, with numbers and equations on one of the posters. I
sat around waiting for something to happen.

Something finally did happen as one
student near me turned around and asked me, “What are you doing here?”

As I replied, saying I was new, his eyes
widened and gleamed manically. He laughed and turned to his friends and
repeated what I said. I didn’t know what I did wrong at first but I realized as
they began to impersonate my accent. I was made fun of for my clothes, my hair,
and my handwriting. I didn’t understand why this was happening to me and I
didn’t know what to do as I was crying and siting silently.

There is no doubt that my literacy
knowledge progressed significantly thanks to school. However, midway through
middle school, the most radical change happened. I moved from Nepal, a Nepali speaking
country, to the U.S, an English speaking country. I did not know even the most
basic statements in English. When I was enrolled in school, I was put in a
special program called ESL, a program that helps non-English speakers to learn
how to read and write in English.

My ESL teacher Mrs. Jenkins stuck with me,
helping me so much in fact that by the end of the year I was teaching classmates
how to read and write in English. She would come and sit beside me and help me
read and pronounce words. She could explain them to me, show me images, draw
pictures if I didn’t understand. Without her help, I would not be the person who
I am today. In two years, I was taken off that program. I went to high school,
and I was taking Honors and Advance Placement English classes.

I always had thought that our lives in
Nepal were perfect and nothing needed to be changed. I was upset at my parents
for taking us to this new place that we knew nothing about. I let them know
that I didn’t like what they were doing by how I acted, but our life in Nepal
was not perfect because of education. I didn’t talk to my parents and tell them
that I am not moving. I told them that I would stay in Nepal and they could
move. It was extremely hard to leave everything behind in Nepal and move to a
new place. I had never moved in my life, so I didn’t know anything about it.

The hardest part about moving was leaving
my best friend and neighbors. Every day after school I would call my friends
and gather together to play soccer. We would even play when it was rainy. We
also played other sports like basketball and football. I didn’t know how to
tell them that I was moving, but when my friends found out, they were
disappointed as I was. When it was day to leave my country, we loaded our stuff
and I quickly said my last good-bye to my friends. After that we left our old home
and started a new.

Now, I am glad we moved here 6 years ago.

But I couldn’t let my parents know after all the complaining I had done. Now, I
realize it was one of the best things that has happened to me. I still miss my
old friends, but I know that moving here was the right thing to do because I
never would have made the friends I have, even when the first couple of months
was very hard. I Have never been back to my country but, when I go back I
will meet with my old friends.  I
will never forget this in my life.

Now I am happy with my new life in a new
country because I would have missed out on all the friends that I have and the grateful
teachers who never hesitated to help me when I was doing something wrong or
teach me something new that would help me adjust to American culture. The USA gave me a lot opportunities that I couldn’t reject it. Also,
I have learned a lot of this country is about how important it is to know two
languages, because at least you have a better chance of getting a job than
another person who knows only one. Finally, I have noticed that
while I am making progress in this language, I don’t know it one hundred
percent yet, but I am learning a lot from every class that I take. I have
learned to fit in to this strange culture.