Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Walk in Her Shoes
One thing that we discussed is when Min comes home. What it will be like for her. How it could feel. How it might be a culture shock in so many ways.
When I was in junior high, my family lived in El Paso, Texas. We moved to this nice little gated community just outside of the city limits. And then we went to school. I was literally the ONLY white student in the junior high. The classes were conducted in Spanish, which I did not speak. Lunch was a nightmare. I sat down at a table smiled and said 'Hola" in my best attempt at Spanish and people got up and moved or just turned their backs on me and ignored me. No one talked to me all day long. Even the teachers of the overcrowded classrooms barely interacted with me on the first day to tell me to bring a reading book in case I got bored before leaving me to my own devices. I was there for two days before my parents switched me to a different school. It was a brief experience that I have not really thought about for years. But reflecting on it, I could still feel isolated, alone and completely adrift in a sea of unfamiliar faces and an unfamiliar language.
Then I thought about Min. She will be in an unfamiliar place filled with unfamiliar faces, and unfamiliar language, unfamiliar smells and foods, and unfamiliar lifestyle. And yet there is one glaring difference that I can see between our two experiences. She will be wanted. She will be loved. There will be someone, multiple someones, to help her transition. And we will work harder before she comes home to find ways that will make our home a little less foreign. We will try to learn and incorporate more of her upbringing into our family life so that she doesn't feel totally lost in a sea of unfamiliarity, and while she may definitely feel that way for a while, at least she won't be left in a boat by herself to drift along, she will be there with a family who wants to be part of her life's journey.