Some kids are lucky to have one or both parents take them to their first day of school. In my case, it was my preacher, Brother Dale. He was the one who took us to school. I was seven years old when I started school in America. I was put into Mrs. Bizzell’s second grade class. There were no other Asian much less khon Lao in my class so I did not have anybody to interact with or ask questions. While the rest of the students were doing their regular classwork, I struggled to learn my basics…ABC and 123. I couldn’t read, write or speak English so it was a challenge to complete the class assignments. It felt like I was deaf, dumb, and blind because I felt so lost. What made it worse was the fact that I had to discover a way to over the language barrier so I could communicate with my teacher and classmates. I came to rely heavily on my ability to remember and mimic the other kids in class. Inadvertenly,I became an expert observer and imitator.
Mrs. Bizzel and I eventually discover how we can communicate to each other by using hand motions and strong facial expression. Looking back now it was like paying charade. We were both trying to “guess” what the other person was saying with their hands, body language and dramatic gestures. If we were students in a clown school, I’m pretty sure we would have been the head of the class!
Learning the English language was my top concern because for me personally, I wanted to know what other people were saying to each other or to me. There were times when the kids would point and laugh when they would glance my way and I would feel so frustrated because I didn’t know what they were saying.
Everyday, my brothers and sister and I would be taken out of our class to a resource class where Mrs. Lennon and Mrs. Brown would help us learn English. They were instrumental in us grasping the language faster which was not easy because we had to learn to use different parts of our mouth to speak. The most important thing was, we had the determination to overcome our language barrier.