The Importance of New Encounters

Kwangsik - Inverness, Illinois
Entered on May 19, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: change, immigrant

By immigrating to the United States at the age of ten, I was exposed to a culture entirely different from my former one. Instead of coming directly to my city of residence, my family and I first went to New York where my father obtained his master’s degree at SUNY Stony Brook. The early experience at the college campus opened my eyes to the diversity of America.

During my first year in America, I struggled to comprehend what was occurring in my bilingual/ESL classes in my elementary school. Even math proved arduous for me though I was sure it would be my one golden subject. Despite that one year of constant combat with English, I was determined to get into regular classes the following year and detach myself from fellow Korean students whom I deemed would only hinder my immersion into the American culture.

As expected, the subsequent year at my main school was characterized by my obliviousness to class instructions and simple inquiries from fellow classmates. Initially, I was content to receive a C average in sixth grade and made a scapegoat of my immigrant status. However, junior high came swiftly and my perception of what is academic excellence became completely overhauled as I began to acknowledge the importance of my grades then in determining my placement in high school courses, and eventually the ones in college.

Despite the early confrontations in the remedial class I initially took as a 5th grader, I currently am enrolled in AP Literature & Composition, content with my progress up to this point and eagerly awaiting the examination in May. Nearing the end of my four-year high school career, I am in search of exponential educational possibilities that were the catalyst for my immigration.

I believe that without such hardship adapting to the new learning environment, I could not have progressed as a person, remaining the same lazy teenager I have fought so hard not to be.