When my dad retired in 1993, my parents decided to leave South Korea and start a new life in Canada.
I was six years old at the time and had never taken an English class. My family used to tell me that when we arrived in Vancouver, my vocabulary consisted of three words: boy, washroom and ice cream.
I started my Canadian education in grade one in North Vancouver. After a year, we moved to a new neighbourhood and I was enrolled at a school named Montroyal Elementary—yet another unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people in an already unfamiliar country. My parents were told I would have trouble adjusting, as Montroyal didn’t have an English as a Second Language program.
I still cringe at my memories of having trouble communicating: going to the wrong classroom on my first day because I didn’t understand where I was supposed to ...