After reading Ms. Nguyen’s “17th Anniversary,” I freak out because her bullies’ drama and kung fu’s fantasy reflect my own past, those early days in American school.
A couple years ago, I went back to my junior high school to meet with a teacher who was my freelance client at the time to talk about a website project she hired me to do. I walked through the hallway recollecting my thought on the place that was once part of my life. The big bulletin board that displayed photos of exemplary (straight-A’s) students was still there. Yes, my snapshot made it up there once. As I continued my way down to the corner where my ESL class used to be, the bell rang. Kids stormed out of their classrooms everywhere. A Puerto Rican boy stared at me like I was from another planet. As he imitated Bruce Lee’s martial arts, the other kids began to giggle. I just gave them a smile and walked away. Of course, it was not a big deal to me at that time, but thinking back to when I was their age, it was quite a pressure.
Every time I think about the experiences I went through, I hope that Samantha, Eric, and my kids (later on) won’t have to face these racial challenges when they go to school. Maybe it won’t be so bad for them since they were born here and their natural English won’t create such tensions.
Once again, kudos to Ms. Nguyen for bringing back the painful but invaluable lessons. That’s right, if we can’t beat them in anything else, we have to beat them in academic. It’s definitely the best revenge.