my native tongue is broken english. my parents immigrated from china and didn’t know the language. back then they didn’t know that children’s brains are wired to learn multiple languages, and they didn’t want their children to be ridiculed for not knowing english so they deliberately did their best not to speak their native tongue around us.
i remember being teased for saying ‘lice’ instead of ‘rice’. i was regularly pulled from my classes to have speech therapy because in broken english there isn’t the sound of ‘r’…it’s more like the sound of ‘l’. and as much as i tried, i just couldn’t get it right (but i could get it light). so not only did i look different from everyone else, i sounded different.
my parents tried their best, but i could never understand the simple phrases they would try and toss about, ‘you can’t eat your cake and eat it too’ (why not?)….’the boy who called it a wolf'(called what a wolf?)…being surrounded with broken english definitely contributed to my warped way of understanding the world.
what did i learn in being so different? i learned early on how to manage on my own, and i came to love my books. i was never alone if i had a book. i was also very quiet, or people called me ‘shy’, because my father was always telling me that it’s better to listen than to talk. a huge part of going to school is to learn to socialize – to practice talking with others. but i would go to school to learn, to watch and to listen. i did a lot of observing and very little talking. i also did a lot of thinking…thinking in fear that i might do something wrong, or that i wouldn’t be the best.
as i prepare for my trip to italy where i’ll be learning how to become a better writer, i am in awe of my fellow writers, and of course i’m experiencing some trepidation as i my mind reverts to my days of broken english. i understand how the other five writers have manuscripts to be evaluated, but why is mine one of them?
it’s very easy for me to feel less than when it comes to english and its many complexities…and perhaps this is why i keep writing…simply because there is so much to learn. and so i practice, and learn some more.
my 3 L’s:
as i listen and learn in this workshop, i’ll remember to laugh, and to not be intimidated. we all have something to learn, and isn’t that cool? i’m not going to compare because that’s going into my head. i’m going to relate, connect and come from my heart.
each of us is different, so completely different. i didn’t know that growing up – i thought i was the only one who was different. and now i understand why god made each of us so completely different…so we could learn to see things through others’ eyes, to learn compassion and gratitude.
i have a ton to learn from you, and i thank you for helping me to grow. it’s not about perfection, it’s about the process, progress and potential. ha! my 3 P’s…more on that later…