Almost everyone who is living in North America is either an immigrant or has a family member who is an immigrant. North America is known to be a continent of immigrants. And those immigrants come from literally everywhere in the world.
When we travel to a country where we don’t know the language, we feel isolated. So imagine how non-English speaking immigrants feel when they move to North America. It’s quite possible that they feel so isolated and overwhelmed that they can’t fully understand what is being said to them.
Twitter user @AskAKorean wrote a story on his Twitter account about his immigrant story, moving from Korea to the US, and his first experience starting school in America. We have captured screenshots of his story to share with all of you.
T.K begins telling his story when he first arrived in America, in the Los Angeles area. He talks about not having to go to the ESL classes and joining the regular classes instead. This is due to his English training back in Korea.
On T.K’s second day of biology class, there was a quiz given out to all the students. His teacher, Ms. Gallagher told him not to worry too much about it because she knew he was new to the class. Yet she gave him the quiz anyway.
Even though this quiz was given out 20 years ago, T.K still remembers it like it was yesterday. The quiz was about photosynthesis and it showed a diagram of a leaf.
When T.K figured out that this quiz was something he already learned back in Korea, he got frustrated. He knew all the right answers, the only problem was that he didn’t know them in English.
At that moment, looking down at the quiz, he felt like all of his knowledge turned to dust. It was also a reminder that this life in America was a new reality to him. It was going to be a new environment and a new language that he had to learn to adapt to.
Even though his teacher told him the quiz wouldn’t count, T.K didn’t want to leave it blank. He decided to fill in the answers in Korean instead. He did this because he didn’t want to prove to himself that he was stupid and that he truly did know the answers.
Two days after the quiz was given out, they were handed back completely graded. It turned out that Ms. Gallagher was able to find grade T.K’s quiz even though it was in Korean. And she announced to the whole class that he got top marks. His teacher told him that she managed to find a math teacher on staff that knew a little bit of Korean. Even though their Korean wasn’t great they were able to team up and look in the dictionary to figure out what T.K was putting as his answers.
T.K states that every time he thinks about the steps that Ms. Gallagher took to mark his quiz, he gets emotional. The reason for this is because she didn’t have to do any of the stuff she did, considering the quiz wasn’t worth anything, to begin with.
Due to Ms. Gallagher caring as much as she did, T.K believes this changed the view he had of his immigrant life in America. She showed him that he wasn’t stupid, he just had a language barrier in this new place.
He ended up learning English and graduating second in his class. T.K ended up going to a good college, and then a good law school. Since that day back in 1997, he has become a lawyer and writer in America. His writing is even used by writing professors as a model to their students.
We finally reach the point of T.K’s immigrant story, which is to point out that it’s hard to be a new person in a new country. And he wants people to know that there are more people out there who are understanding of the immigrant experience than those who are not.
He also wants everyone to know that almost every American has come from somewhere else. He also makes the point that there are more coming as you are reading this article. He wants everyone to be patient with them and to be a Ms. Gallagher to someone else.
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